Young chess stars shine

Baitshepi Sekgweng

Duo qualify for World Schools Championships

Two bright young Chess stars have brought some much-needed cheer to the cash-strapped sport by qualifying for the World Schools Individual Championships.

Six-year-old Uba Mahilo and Maya Otimile, 12, secured their places at the showpiece event, set for Rhodes, Greece from 13 -24 April, after emerging top in their categories at last week’s African qualifiers.

The gold-winning duo were part of a Botswana team that had to be cut down from 36 players to 12 due to the federation’s financial constraints.

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Mahilo’s four points from a possible seven saw her clinch the U/7’s title while Otimile dropped just 1.5 of the nine points on offer to be crowned U/13 Champion.

In a brief chat with Voice Sport, BCF Secretary General, Mokwaledi Tingwane stressed this was an achievement well worth celebrating.

“We are proud of these results because it’s not always easy to qualify for world events. Other than the World Olympiad last year, our kids last competed in the World Schools in 2019; it’s rare to grace these events. We did not set a target of how many players we wanted to qualify but we were hoping we could sneak in one or two looking at the calibre of players who were available,” he said.

Other notable performances came from WFM Naledi Marape, WCM Laone Moshoboro, Philip Motswasele and Nalamalpu Saishanvi Reddy, who all scooped silvers, while the Moshoboro sisters, Adeola and Arona, as well as Thuto Mpene, managed bronze medals.

“African competitions are always tough, more so that at stake is the chance to represent the country at world tournaments,” continued Tingwane.

Although he was loathed to make excuses, the Chess official further revealed several players were hampered by connection issues.

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“Most of our players were affected by unreliable internet, since they were in different locations – they lost few points in games in which they were disrupted by poor connectivity,” said Tingwane.

Calling on the private sector to dig deep into their pockets, Tingwane told Voice Sport around P40, 000 will need to be raised to cover the two girls’ flights to Greece.

“They have personal trainers who deal with them on a daily basis, but we shall try by all means by augmenting that with a trainer from BCF,” he said.

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