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Chess team targets online glory

Tshepo Kehimile

The Botswana Chess Federation (BCF) are fine-tuning their preparations ahead of the country’s first ever appearance at the World Chess Online Olympiad.

The global tournament runs from 5-9 August and features 163 nations all desperate for chess glory.

Having announced the six-member team that will represent the country at the weekend, BCF Secretary General, Mokwaledi Tingwane told Voice Sport he was confident they had assembled a squad capable of ‘special things’.

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He explained that the disruption caused by Covid-19 had forced BCF to come up with innovative solutions to keep the game vibrant in Botswana, hence their decision to register for the Online Olympiad.

“The preparations for the tournament are going well, and I believe the players are conditioned enough to compete online and bring medals home. We held a very successful event over the weekend and there were lots of positives. With a little bit of effort to each player’s game, results will come,” he predicted confidently.

Shedding light on the criteria used to pick the squad, Tingwane revealed, “Fide live ratings were used to select the team and when a player is unavailable whoever follows on the line gets the nod.”

A notable absentee from the final line-up is 2019 FM Champion and the country’s second highest ranked player, Phemelo Khetho, who Tingwane explained ‘was unavailable’

Meanwhile, Voice Sport also caught up with WFM Besa Masaiti who was victorious at the Metropolitan National Chess Championships held this past weekend.

“I am happy to have finally won the Metropolitan Championships after numerous attempts to bag the trophy this year,” said the 20-year-old, who was named in the reserve squad for the Olympiads.

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“Furthermore, I am thrilled to be part of the squad that will be representing the country even though I have been brought in as a reserve. I respect the management and the criteria that was used to select the squad. However, I would have loved to be on the best six because I believe in myself,” maintained Masaiti, adding she is confident that those selected will do the nation proud

“I believe we are ready to conquer!” concluded the chess star brightly.

Botswana squad
International Master (IM) Providence Oatlhotse (35)
Women Internatonal Master (WIM) Onkemetse Francis (28)
WIM Boikhutso Mudongo (41)
Candidate Master (CM) Thabo Elias (20)
Women Candidate Master (WCM) Refilwe Gabatshware (14) Gomolemo Rongwane (31)

Fide Master (FM) Thato Olebile (29)
Keletshabile Monnatsheko (32)
Woman GrandMaster (WGM) Tuduetso Sabure (38)
Woman Fide Master (WFM) Besa Masaiti (20)
Othata Selogelo (19)
Woman Fide Master (WFM) Naledi Marape (13)

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