This year’s independence celebration is the only potent catalyst local chess players can use to ensure the annual Debswana International Chess Tournament title remains at home. Players have been urged to seize the opportunity and clinch the title of the P150 000 Debswana fuelled event when they take to the board.
The independence tournament estimated to attract around 200 players from Southern Africa has been an evasive title for the locals especially the men. The locals have been told to use the opportunity to tell Botswana story and showcase its unique story of a basket case with no hope at independence to a middle income economy now, by winning.
Among nations that will be represented at the event to be held at Botho University, which started this Thursday until Sunday are Zimbabwe, Zambia, South Africa and Malawi. The Zambian International Master, Chitumbo Mwali has proven to be a strong nemesis as he has defended the open section for the past two years making him the man to beat this year.
However the local chess fraternity has this year witnessed some players coming out of their shells who could spoil the party for the Zambian native. Otsile Mapini and Thuso Musotlha are the notable names that can cement the independence celebrations for chess federation. The duo was recently bestowed with prestigious tittles of candidate’s masters by the world chess body. Nonetheless old horses like Barileng Gaealafshwe, Thabo Gumpo, Thato Olebile and Providence Oatlhotse are also tipped to do well this year. “For me in doing my best, I have been to Greece for a tournament and I’m from the Olympiad of which I gained a lot, so this tournament I will have to do better,” Mosutha said.
“I have been reliably informed that this event has overtime been dominated by our invited guests from neighbouring countries. I am also aware that our players always put up a good fight to keep the title at home. As we celebrate our 50th independence anniversary, we would also like to celebrate victory as a country at this tournament,” Debswana Head of Corporate Affairs, Esther Kanaimba- Senai said at the sponsorship launch.
On the women category, the local lasses marshalled by the veteran Boikhutso Mudongo have been doing well. Women International Master, Onkemetse Francis, won the tournament in 2014 before her compatriot Women International Master, Mudongo scooped it last year. Kanaimba-Senai’s words should echo in their ears as the battle of kingdoms continues. “This year I want to go up on my graph and I want to improve my ratings as a player and I’m ready for battle; the national team has really helped me,” the ever-cheerful Francis who has been doing well this year said.
This tournament which is rated as one of the best in the BCF calendar will see the winners in the open section walking away with P12, 000 while P8000 will be won by the champion in the ladies section.
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