Botswana Botswana Botswana

Kenneth Boiktuswane, "Khetho Defends National Chess Crown ," Mmegi, 15 March 2006 (Gaborone, Botswana).

FIDE Master (FM) Phemelo Khetho has been crowned the national chess champion for the second year running after scooping 10 out 11 points. Tshepiso Lopang lifted the women title while Kagiso Molosiwa was the top player in the Under-21 event when the national championships ended on Monday.

Khetho started the tournament on a high and made his intentions known as early as the first round by outclassing
Moakofi Notha in a Spanish opening game. The FM gained an advantage from the opening and finished the game with a beautiful combination of a double bishop sacrifice.

Phemelo Khetho at the 2004 Chess Olympiad. Copyright   2006, Daaim Shabazz.

In subsequent rounds, Khetho's hopes of defending the title were threatened by Providence Oatlhotse and Ignatius Njobvu. The three players drew the games between them and defeated the rest of the field, which led to a lively and interesting second half. Except for his draws against Oatlhotse and Njobvu, the FM showed no mercy for the rest of the field. Oatlhotse drew three more games while Njobvu was done in by a loss to Baone Kealeboga in round nine. After the loss, it became clear that the best that Njobvu could get from the tournament was third place.

In the end, Khetho was 1.5 points ahead of second placed Oatlhotse, with Njobvu half a point behind. Khetho's fine tournament win made him P1,000 richer, Oatlhotse got P600 while Njobvu had to be satisfied with P400. In addition Orange Botswana offered free airtimes of P700 for the top three players.

Khetho said the recent training he underwent in South Africa helped him a lot. As the national champion, Khetho has already sealed his place in the national team.

Kenya vs. Botswana - Tshepiso Lopang (near right) faces Linda Abur Amolo on board #3 while Tuduetso Sabure (center) and Boikhutso Mudongo (far end) ponder their next moves.

Row of Champions at 2004 Olympiad: Tshepiso Lopang (near right) faces Linda Abur Amolo on board #3 while Tuduetso Sabure (center) and Boikhutso Mudongo (far end) ponder their next moves.

In the women section, Lopang took full advantage of the absence of Woman Grand Master (WGM) Tuduetso Sabure to win her third title in six years. She had previously triumphed in 2000 and 2003. There was much more at stake in this section with the top three places earning national team places. The only player to draw with Lopang was young Ontiretse Sabure who was unfortunate to miss a national team place by finishing fourth. Keitumetse Mokgacha and Boikhutso Mudongo, who came to the event as favourites, could not match the furious pace set by Lopang. Mudongo won her last two games to gain a last minute entry into the national team. Lopang got P500 and Orange P700 air time, with Mokgacha finishing second ahead of Mudongo due to a better soberg score. Botswana Chess Federation (BCF) broke the prize rule for the umpteenth time as they failed to share the money equally between Mokgacha and Mudongo. Tournament rules state that players on equal points should share cash prizes, tie-break scores are only for medals. Gaborone Secondary School continued to dominate the junior ranks with Molosiwa's win.

Just a month ago,
Tebogo Mooketsane triumphed in the school's championships but failed to repeat this at the national level. Molosiwa took full advantage to win the tournament with a round to spare in a great show of strength. Bojosi Sabure on 6.5/8 to take second place. Defending champion Otlhomile Maruping could not repeat his form of last year and ended up third. Molosiwa received P150 and P700 Orange airtime, Bojosi got P100 and a chess book while Maruping settled for P75 and a chess book.

Posted by The Chess Drum: 22 March 2006