Saturday, February 12, 2011

Chess in Zimbabwe: National Championships

Story from
National chess championships start with free-for-all

Staff Writer
22 February 2011

The fifth Metropolitan National Chess Championships get underway this weekend with a free-for-all preliminary round.

The stage offers minnows a rare chance to pit their wits against established players and possibly cause upsets.

Defending champions have been exempted from the round that will be staged on Saturday and Sunday at Legae Academy in Gaborone West Phase II.

The champions Barileng Gaealafswe (men) and Ontiretse Sabure (women) will enter the national championships at the semi-final stage. Resident Zimbabwean chess players like Dion Moyo and highly-rated Spencer Masango are tipped to give Batswana a run for their money. Moyo is the reigning Zimbabwean champion.

Kenneth Boikhutswane, of the Botswana Chess Federation (BCF), said the announcement of the sponsorship for this year's national championships will be made just before the semi-finals.

Over the last five years, the sponsorship has grown from P10, 000 to P60, 000 in 2010. The semi-finals will be held on the weekend of March 5-6.

The Botswana players to watch are Candidate Master (CM) Providence Oatlhotse, Fide Master (FM) Phemelo Kheto, Jona Chaka, Moakofi Notha, Spencer Masango, Dion Moyo, Candidate Master(CM) Oaitse Kokome, Ivon Makabe, Candidate Master (CM) and Thabo Gumpo. In the women's section, the top names are FM Kgalalelo Botlhole, WGM Tuduetso Sabure, Onkemetse Francis, WCM Tshepiso Lopang, Thapelo Francis, Fredah Kebakile, Boitshepo Rebatenne, Faith Mbakhwa, WFM Boikhutso Modongo and Gorata Sebetso.

These are the players who did well in the season opening Air Efficiency tournament recently at Yarona Country Lodge in Mogoditshane. Phemelo has won the national championships four times in succession.

While 23 chessmen will qualify for the next round, the women category will see 17 top performers sailing through.

The incentives for sterling performances in this year's tournament are tickets to represent the country at international competitions. Good performers will qualify for the Africa Individuals tournament in Zambia in May, the Commonwealth Chess Championships in South Africa in June and the Africa Junior Chess Championships to be held at the end of the year.

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