Tuesday, August 9, 2022

National chess contest hots up as champions join fray

A fierce battle of the brains is expected to ensue this weekend as Botswana’s top chess exponents face off in the second qualifiers of the 5th Metropolitan Life National Championships.

After bruising battles in the first qualifiers, competition is expected to hot up this weekend with national champions joining the fray. After being left out of the first qualifiers, both Candidate Master (CM) Barileng Gaealafshwe and Women Candidate Master (WCM) Ontiretse Sabure, who hold the men’s and ladies national championships, respectively, are expected to start the defence of their titles.

According to the Botswana Chess Federation (BCF) President Tshepo Sitale, tough battles will be expected as most of the country’s elite chess players have made it through the first round and will be fighting for the limited spaces in the finals.

The BCF president says only top ten (10) men and top eight (8) women will make it to the finals.
In the women’s category, all eyes will be on Botswana’s highest ranked player Women Grandmaster (WGM) Tuduetso Sabure, to see how she fares against the country’s emerging chess starlets in the likes of defending champion and younger sister, Ontiretse Sabure, as well as another WCM, Tshepiso Lopang.

After being out of the game for some time, the older Sabure will continue her comeback and will be seeking to assert her dominance on the local ladies chess and wrenching the championship from her younger sister. The fight will also hot up in the men’s category where defending champion, Gaealafshwe will be expected to battle it out with the likes of FIDE Master (FM) Phemelo Khetho as well as another local chess great, Providence Oatlhotse.

Meanwhile, BCF has sent a team of four players to East London, South Africa, to compete in the Africa Junior Individual Championships. The team started its games on Sunday, registering loses in the ladies’ category while Mooketsane and Gumpo won and drew their matches respectively.

According to Sitale, the women’s junior team is composed of Africa Youth Champion, Kgalalelo Botlhole, as well as Faith Mbakhwa while the men will be represented by Thabo Gumpo and David Mooketsane.

Sitale says despite the women’s loses in the first games, he expects them to bounce back and perform well in the championships. While expressing optimism that the team will post better results, Sitale says the local team should expect tough competition, more especially from Africa’s chess powerhouses, Algeria and Egypt, as well as hosts South Africa. The team is expected to be back home next week Monday.

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