Tshenolo Maruatona sent the following press release from Botswana. He described the process as follows: The first qualifiers consists of a open tournament for all eligible players in the country. From that field the top 23 (plus defending champ) advance to 2nd qualifier. The final ten play for the National Finals. Last weekend, Providence Oatlhotse won the 2nd qualifier with a sparkling performance, 6.5/7.
The race for Botswana’s most prestigious title reached epic heights this weekend as the second round saw the top 10 players qualify for the final.
After winning the first qualifiers, Providence Oatlhotse continued his dominance in the second qualifiers accumulating 6.5 out of 7. Oatlhotse and FM Phemelo Khetho are each looking to win the coveted title of National Champion for the fourth time in their chess career. The two players met on the fifth round and Oatlhotse emerged the winner after Khetho’s Sicilian Defence faultered in the middle game. This year alone,the two giants of Botswana Chess have met three times and they are on equal points.
Cinky Boikanyo of Mobile Chess Club turned the tables on Khetho in the first round. Boikanyo managed to salvage the game to find a mating combination in a game in which he was visibly outplayed. Boikanyo went on to qualify for the final after a consistent performance. The surprise package for the tournament was the underrated Dragon Keseilwe who went on to get position to booking himself a place in the finals.
The defending National Champion Dzilani Abel saw his title fizzle into thin air as he struggled at the lower boards. Abel suffered a devastating loss to the oldest player in the tournament, Mosenya Ndawana. Ndawana’s fearless attacks coupled with his experience saw him cement his place at the finals.
The youngest players to make it into the finals were the duo of Goabaone Tangane (Under 16) and Thato Olebile. Tangane who is coached and mentored by Oatlhotse had to defy the odds not to disappoint his coach. Olebile wrestled his space by beating Bright Sinkamba in tie break after the two went for blitz.
The final ranking for the tournament ended as below after 7 rounds.
On the ladies side, there were no surprises as all the players tipped to qualify made it to the finals. The final ranking on the women section was a below after seven rounds.
The championships are sponsored by Metropolitan Botswana and the finals will be held in the month of April in Gaborone.
~ Tshenolo Maruatona