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Kenneth Boikhutswane, "Molale tops Jwaneng Chess Open,"  Mmegi/The Reporter, 24 August 2005 (Gaborone, Botswana)

The third Jwaneng Open Chess Championship at Jwaneng Technical College over the weekend produced a new winner in Ofentse Molale. The champion overcame his recent poor form to beat a classy field of 146 players. He garnered 6 points out of a possible seven.

Molale, who seemed to have been deserted by his tactical ability in recent months, rediscovered his usual tricks to crush his baffled opponents. He got a P500 prize while six players who tied on second spot with six points had to share prize money meant for four and got P100 each.

Molale, the former Botswana champion, was at the top of his game. At the close of the play on Saturday, he was one of a group of three players yet to lose a game. His duel with another pre- tournament favourite,
Barileng Gaealafshwe on Sunday morning proved to be the turning point of the tournament.

Oftense Molale

Oftense Molale

Because Gaealafshwe had the advantage of playing white, he was expected to pose difficulties for Molale. But Molale completely surprised him by choosing the King's Indian defence. A rattled Gaealafshwe was outplayed in the complications that arose in the game. By overcoming Gaealafshwe, Molale set a date against one of the country's most gifted players, Ignatious Njobvu. Again, Molale had the disadvantage of playing black, which means he was defending.

Once more, he unleashed the King's Indian Defence on Njobvu and came top in the opening battle. The players drifted into an equal endgame but with trouble looming, Njobvu lost a piece. Whether this was an oversight or a calculated sacrifice is debatable, but the resulting position forced Njobvu to try and bail himself out with a draw by repetition of position.

Those who have followed his games are convinced that the star had blundered by losing the piece, as a win would have clinched him top spot. Just five moves before the loss of the piece, Molale had offered a draw that was turned down. The end position of Njobvu's two pawns against Molale's bishop was a dead draw and the players had to accept the inevitable.

The newly crowned champion said he hoped that the bad form that had characterised his play is over. "I'm excited as I've shown that I'm still one of the best players in the country," a beaming Molale said after victory.

Njobvu, who came into the tourney as the defending champion, finished level with Gaealafshwe, FIDE Master (FM)
Phemelo Khetho, Bojosi Sabure, Providence Oatlhotse and Dion Moyo of Zimbabwe. Khetho had the rare experience of losing to a junior. His student from the coaching clinic and schools champion, Nelson Morwamang defeated him in the second round.

This ruled the FM out of contention for first place but he was admired for the way he took the loss as he went on to win all his other games. The next tournament is the Botswana Open, billed for September 30 in Gaborone.

Posted by The Chess Drum: 25 August 2005