Nine year old Women Candidate Master (WCM) Naledi Marape was a refreshing sight, in an otherwise disappointing display by local chess players at the just ended Botswana Open International Chess tournament. While all talk prior to the tournament was on whether the local players could manage to keep the Prestige Section trophy back home for the first time in as many years, something which they eventually failed to do, it was WCM Marape who set the tongues wagging with her heroics on the chessboard. Playing in the ladies’ open section, the youngster blitzed the board with what some seniors described as a thrilling display of attacking chess.
According to Women International Master (WIM) Boikhutso Mudongo, who played Marape in the third round of the Botswana International Open, the young WCM is a worthy opponent to come across and she can never be underestimated. “When we met, she gave me a hard time as she attacked me relentlessly. I had to pull myself together because I realised that if I do not raise my game, I am going to lose. She is a brilliant young player who plays with the maturity of a seasoned chess player,” Mudongo, who emerged the winner of the ladies open, said of the young WCM Marape. Starting the first day of the tournament on board ten (10), WCM Marape started her tournament on the right footing, beating Naga Sai Hasitha to register her first points of the tournament.
She then beat Atang Tsalaile on the second day for her second win before tasting her second loss at the hands of WIM Mudongo in the third round. The youngster however bounced back in the fourth round, which she drew with eventual runner up Malebogo Keleapere. Despite losing a couple of matches along the way, the nine year old had impressed enough to win the ladies junior section of the tournament. Meanwhile, in the Prestige section, Zambian International Master (IM) Chitumbo Mwali was a cut above the rest as he successfully defended the trophy he won last year. The Zambian, who left the tournament without registering a loss, amassed a total of 7.5 points to take the trophy back to Zambia. For his troubles, the Zambian IM took home a trophy, a gold medal as well as a P8 500 pay cheque.
The ladies open went to WIM Mudongo, while Keleapere and WIM Tshepiso Lopang finished second and third respectively. The trio all finished tied on 7 points each, but Mudongo shaded the contest in tie break. The Botswana Open International Chess tournament, which is regarded as the biggest event in Botswana Chess Federation (BCF) calendar, is sponsored by Debwana.