On May 12th, the Botswana Chess Federation (BCF) held the first in a series of National Debswana Sponsored Chess Tourneys. The tournament attracted an impressive 339 participants who assembled at the Legae Academy for the showdown. Imagine a tournament hall of enthusiastic children ready to prove their mettle over a 64-square battlefield. Dr. Jeffy Ramsay, the principal of the Academy, opened the championships and gave an encouraging speech about the importance of chess as an educational tool. He extolled the virtues of chess as instilling discipline, good character and the adherence to a set of laws.
The nine-round tournament was held in two sections: boys (198 total) and girls (141 total). Each section had spirited battles. In the end, both the boy's and girl's section would be won by perfect 9-0 scores, a rarity in a tournament of such length (at any level). Bojosi Sabure (the defending boy's champ) and Lefatamang Rich had flawless records to win the gold medals and will compete in the senior event the 19th of May in Francistown. Taking the boy's silver and bronze medals were Omphemetse Arennen and Tshepo Lepere both with 8-1 scores. For the girls, Lesego Moeng (8-1) and Jaakamang Matinako (7½-1½) took the silver and bronze, respectively. In addition, the top 20 boys and top 10 girls would also receive invitations to compete in the senior event. Coming off of an impressive 4th place finish in the National Championship, young Phemelo Kheto will attempt to defend his senior title. On the girl's side, defending champion and Olympiad player, Gloria Nakedi will receive stiff competition from Keitumetse Mokgacha, who is confident after her triumph as the new women's national champion.
Prizes for these championships were in the form of chess sets, books and medals (gold, silver, bronze). BCF's General Secretary Patrick Wanda thanked Debswana for their contributions to chess excellence and hopefully, a lasting commitment.
(Editor's note: Botswana continues to have a very active scholastic program. I met, analyzed and played a few casual games with the Botswana youth team in the World Youth team tournament held in the U.S. (Chicago, Illinois) back in 1983. They were coached by Oscar Mayisela with whom I kept in contact for a number of years.)
Posted by The Chess Drum: 15 May 2001