The 6th Metropolitan chess championships will take place this weekend in Palapye where the top 20men and top 20 women will crack their heads in a fiercely anticipated chess tournament.
The tournament is sponsored by Metropolitan to the tune of P80,000. This is the 6th year that Metropolitan and Botswana Chess Federation have partnered to produce the country’s champions on both the men and women categories. The Metropolitan sponsorship has grown over the years and the popularity of the tournament has reached every part of the country. This is evidenced by the highest participation recorded at the first qualifiers for the tournament.
Structure of the Tournament
The tournament is played in three fold. The first qualifiers took place in Gaborone where the top 20men and 20 women qualified from over 500 participants. The second stage of the tournament will see the top 10 in both categories secure themselves a place at the finals.
The finals will be a round robin tournament where the winner will walk away with the coveted and the most prestigious National Championship title. The title attracts a gold medal and cash prizes on both categories. Both champions will represent the country at regional tournament
The Race for the title
On the men’s side International Master Providence Oatlhotse is the reigning National Champion and the only local player to win the title record 4times.Oatlhotse will seek to increase his tally and he is highly favoured to walk away with the title. His confidence on the board has blossomed following his latest attainment of the IM title.
Oatlhotse will surely not have a field day as he will be up and against the seasoned players in the likes of FM Ignatious Njobvu, FM Phemelo Khetho and CM Barileng Gaealafshwe. The trio are expected to cruise to the finals with minimum effort. The other players will have a busy day as the try to make it to the finals. Whilst the strength of the other players is relatively equal, the chess analysts have penciled Boikanyo Cinky, Olebile Thato, Moakofhi Notha and Thabo Gumpo for the finals. The remaining positions will be filled by the best players on the day.
On the ladies side, WIM Boikhutso Modongo is favoured to make it to the final to defend her title. Arguably the best achieved women player in the country, Modongo is the only woman to have won the national championship four times in her playing career.
WIM Boikhutso Mudongo will lead the field.
Photo by GM Sergey Tiviakov.
The impending return of WGM Tuduetso Sabure has sent shivers within the women players. Sabure has been absent from the game for sometime and she will have to keep up with the swiftness and tactical awareness of young players like Kgalalelo Botlhole and Gorata Leso.
The finals will be held in Gaborone.
~ Tshenolo Maruatona