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Kenneth Boiktuswane, "The New Wonder Girl of Botswana Chess," Mmegi, 17 June 2005 (Gabarone, Botswana).

"I don't see myself as a good chess player, I think I'm one of the best. Players like (Boikhutso) Mudongo are still much better, but it won't be long before I reach their standard!" exclaims the newly crowned chess champion Galaletsang Mooketsi.

The Form Three Community Junior Secondary School student at Bokamoso exudes great confidence and fun. Perhaps it is this confidence that has seen many of her opponents crumble before her attacks on the chess board.

Born on November 22, 1988, Mooketsi has achieved what many of her peers only dream about. She holds a rare double. She is the 2005 junior and senior schools chess champion. In the 23-year history of Botswana chess, only
Ignatius Njobvu has achieved this feat during his impressive run in the 1990s.

Galaletsang Mooketsi - Botswana’s Junior and Senior Schools Chess Champion

Galaletsang Mooketsi

At the junior schools championships, Mooketsi maintained a 100% record to finish a full point ahead of her runners-up. The senior schools championship, which she qualified for by virtue of being junior champion, proved a tough affair.

Her loss to
Hendrinah Joahs resulted in a three-way tie at the top, but due to her better Bucholz score, she clinched the title. Bucholz is a tiebreak system that adds the cumulative score of a player's opponents. The stronger the opponents a player played against, the more likely that his or her score will be higher. Mooketsi's two crowns give the impression that she has played chess for a long time.

"I started playing chess just last year after my coach introduced me to the game. These two titles are the only ones I have in my very short chess career, but of course over time I'll add on to them," she says.

"They are proud of me, but this doesn't mean I get special treatment."
~ Mooketsi on her parents ~

The budding chess prodigy hails from Malolwane in the Kgatleng District. She is the second child of Lesang and Helda Mooketsi. She says that despite her achievements, her parents treat her as any other child.

"They are proud of me, but this doesn't mean I get special treatment." She says her schoolmates respect her and think highly of her. "I guess they are happy for me and want me to continue carrying the school flag high."

The budding chess prodigy hails from Malolwane in the Kgatleng District. She is the second child of
Lesang and Helda Mooketsi. She says that despite her achievements, her parents treat her as any other child.

Mooketsi has no idol in life. She says that the good thing about chess is that it relaxes the mind, and this in turn leads to better academic results.

For every player, there is that engine behind the machine. Mooketsi draws great inspiration from her coach,
Kenny Keinyatse.

"My coach has a lot of chess books which are important for learning the various facets of the game. These include chess informants, encyclopedias and periodicals. My favourite is one called "Master Chess."

WFM Boikhutso Mudongo.

Boikhutso Mudongo flashing medal. Does Mooketsi have her eyes on this Olympian's crown?

Her coach, Keinyatse struggles to find the right words to describe his student. "Her most important attribute is that she reads most of the material I give her. She is excellent in tactical positions, a factor that proves useful in competitions," he explained.

A lot has been written about the benefits that chess has on academic performance. But is this the case with the new sensation of Botswana chess?

"Of course chess exercises the mind and helps develop skills like memorisation, visualisation, pattern recognition as well as calculating ability. All these are important for progress in class. She is quite intelligent," emphasizes the coach.

An important statistic is that all Botswana national chess teams have been composed of players who studied at the highest learning institution in the country.

What does the future hold for Mooketsi, and what are her goals? "I expect to represent the country in the next few years. No, actually next year," she says. She has declared that she does not fear any female player, and will continue to work hard at her game.

If she moves from strength to strength, the Botswana Chess Federation (BCF) may not have to worry much about representation in the women's competition at this year's African Junior Chess Championships to be hosted by Botswana in December.

Link: http://www.mmegi.bw/2005/June/Friday17/3297850111387.html

Posted by The Chess Drum: 22 June 2005