When the Botswana Chess Federation roped in the Russian Chess Grand Master Igor Vladimirovich Glek to coach them ahead of the 2012 Turkey Chess Olympiad, the country went on to post their best ever results at the Olympiads.
Despite failing to bring home a medal, Botswana had two of its players awarded titles from the Olympiads. With the Tromso, Norway-bound 2014 Chess Olympiads looming large, the country has once again called on Grand Master Glek to lead Botswana’s charge for the ever elusive Olympiad chess medal.
The GM, who arrived in the country this past week, is expected to not only fine tune the team ahead of the Olympiads but also to coach it at the games.
According to the BCF Public Relations Director Keenese Katisenge, the Federation decided to call on the experienced Russian GM after the impact he had on the team at the last Olympiads.
“When we first roped in GM Glek for the 2012, he trained the team for only two weeks before leading it to the Olympiads. Despite the short time, he had a great impact as two of our athletes were awarded titles, a first for the country at the Olympiads. We had Ignatius Njobvu being titled a FIDE Master (FM) while Onkemetse Francis was awarded the Women Candidate Master (WCM) at the Olympiads,” Katisenge explained.
She said given this impact and the fact that BCF had no experienced coach to lead the team to the Tromso Olympiads, the Federation found it fitting to call on Glek to lead the team again.
Another factor which pointed the BCF towards GM Glek was the short period of time they could afford to bring in an experienced coach in the country.
Given how expensive it is to bring in a coach of the highest caliber in the country for a longer period, the BCF could only afford to bring a coach for only a month and thus needed a coach who understands local players.
“Having worked with local players previously, we felt that the GM understands Botswana players. We also took in the fact that save for one or two players, this team is the same one that GM Glek led to the last Olympiads and as such is better placed to work with the team as he knows most of the players’ strengths and weaknesses,” the BCF PRO said.
Katisenge said had the federation had adequate financial resources, they would have roped in the coach for a longer period to work with the players.
Going into this year’s Olympiads, Katisenge said the BCF would be elated if the team can bring home a category medal or if not, have some of the players getting international rankings.
Meanwhile, the Botswana team for the Olympiad started its camp yesterday (Saturday) ahead of them leaving the country this coming Wednesday. The camp, which will only last a few days before the team heads out of the country, will let the GM decide on his board line up for the games before the deadline for the lineup submissions on Wednesday.
The 2014 Botswana Olympiad team is made up of 10 players, five men and five women. The men’s team is composed of Njobvu, Phemelo Khetho, Barileng Gaealafshwe, Thato Olebile and Moakofhi Notha while the ladies’ team will be made of Boikhutso Modongo, Tshepiso Lopang, Kgalalelo Botlhole, Onkemetse Francis and Thapelo Francis. The 2014 Chess Olympiad will kick off on the August 1 and end on August 14.