The Botswana Chess Federation (BCF) yesterday afternoon sent off a strong ten-man team to Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia, for the World Chess Olympiad.
They are expected to arrive in Russia later today (Sunday).
The team is composed of five men and five women players, namely FIDE Master (FM) Phemelo Khetho, Candidate Master (CM) and reigning national champion, Barileng Gaealafshwe, Providence Oatlhotse, Ignatious Njobvu and Thabo Gumpo while the women’s team comprises of Women Grand Master (WGM) Tuduetso Sabure, Women FIDE Master (WFM) Boikhutso Modongo, Women Candidate Master (WCM) Tshepiso Lopang, Keitumetse Mokgacha and Faith Mbakhwa.
The team is accompanied by BCF president, Tshepo Sitale, as Head of Delegation, Kenneth Boikhutshwane as Team Manager and men’s captain, as well as Kelapile Kelatlhilwe, who will be the women’s captain.
Speaking in an interview with Standard Sport, the team manager, Kenneth Boikhutshwane, said while they have tried to prepare the team as much as possible, things have not always gone their way.
For starters, the team has not had a coach going into the Olympiads.
“We could not get a coach as they are very expensive and we cannot at the moment afford them,” he said.
As if that was not enough, the team failed to play their last friendly game against the South African Olympiad bound team.
Boikhutshwane says they turned down the game after the South Africans said they could only send a substitute team comprising of only one Olympiad bound player to play the friendly.
“We felt we needed quality competition, not quantity, hence we turned down the game,” he told Standard Sport.
The team manager is, however, hopeful that even though the team seems not likely to garner any individual accolades, they intend to at least bring home a category medal from the games.
Boikhutshwane is, however, optimistic that some of his team players will be able to increase their rankings. He says taking into cognisance the fact that they will be playing against professional players, they are under no pressure and all they will do is give the best they can.
The team was officially sent off in a ceremony held at Yarona Country Lodge on Friday evening.
The ceremony was also used as a prize giving day for the just ended Mahindra Chess League.
The league, with 14 teams, was won by Mobile Chess Club, followed closely by Delta Pawns Chess Club while En Passent came third.
For their efforts, Mobile Chess Club walked away with a trophy, gold medals and P8 000 in prize money.
Second positioned Delta Pawns got silver medals and P6 000, while En Passent had to be content with bronze medals and P4 500.
The league, sponsored to the tune of P50 000 by Mahindra Botswana, started in February early this year and finished in July.