Botswana crowns new national champions!!
Before Botswana Chess Federation (BCF) held their national championships April 20-23, both sections would leave questions that needed to be answered. On the men's side, reigning champion Ignatious Njobvu failed to qualify in the preliminary round, so that would leave an number of ambitious players in the hunt for the title. As it turned out, John Hutcheson, a teacher at Legae Academy, bested the field of ten qualifiers by an impressive 1½ points by scoring an undefeated 8-1. Former two-time champion and pre-tournament favorite, Ofentse Molale scored an undefeated 6½ but would be stifled by a number of draws, including a draw to the youngest participant, 17-year old Phemelo Khetho. FM Boipuso Samuel, who was swindled by Molale for a draw, finished with 6 points. The Botswana FIDE Master suffered only one loss, but would also be haunted by playing to four draws.
The results of the women's championship would be filled with drama and would result with an improbable winner. Keitumetse Mokgacha, a 17-year old form 5 student at Shashe River Senior Secondary School (equivalent to a Senior in high school), shocked the entire field by beating pre-tournament favorite Tuduetso Sabure and former Olympiad player, Betty Phuthego. The young star also held WFM Boikhutso Mudongo and Olympiad player Gloria Nakedi to draws. This performance would win her crucial tie breaks over Phuthego, both scoring identical 6-3. The reigning champion, Tshepiso Lopang finished with 5½. To demonstrate how close this section was, only one point separated the top six competitors (out of ten who qualified).
Special thanks goes to the IBM Corporation who sponsored the event and the prize fund of 20,000 pulas. Mr. Graham Steenkamp was present to present the gold medals and the prizes to the new champions. Botswana's Senior officer for the National Sports Council pledged more support for chess and was on hand to thank IBM for their continued support. Congratulations champs!!
Botswana's National Champions (Mokgacha & Hutcheson)
Contact BCF's General Secretary, Mr. Patrick Wanda
Posted by The Chess Drum: 23 April 2001