Chess team ready for Olympiad
Botswana men and women’s chess teams yesterday jetted off to Baku, Azerbaijan for the 42nd Chess Olympiad, which starts on Thursday and ends on September 14.
ByCALISTUS KOLANTSHO Wed 31 Aug 2016, 15:10 pm (GMT +2)
Botswana has sent a 10-member team (five women and five men). For the first time in the history of the national team, the Botswana Chess Federation (BCF) introduced a new selection criterion at the beginning of the year where players were selected based on rating and activity.
The federation adopted an open, transparent and objective approach that gave all deserving players, based on their strength, an opportunity to contest for a position in the national team.
Speaking during the send-off ceremony held at Oasis Motel in Tlokweng, BCF president, Tshenolo Maruatona said the Olympiad is the biggest chess stage in the World.
“A total number of participants is expected to be around 2,245. Most of the European teams especially from countries like Russia are comprised of Grand Masters.
While in Africa we only have two Grand Masters. That goes to show you how serious the Olympiad is,” he said.
He said the competition comes against the backdrop of Rio 2016 Olympic Games. He said the nation celebrates when players win but when they lose they
are ridiculed. He complained against such behaviour saying the nation must learn to support players when they go out to represent the country.
Maruatona said the Botswana team comprises experienced players and upcoming talent. He said the federation had created an environment for young players to step up and find themselves places in the team.
“We did not have enough resources to prepare the team the way we had wanted,” he said.
Motivating the teams, the visiting Grandmaster (GM) Marian Petrov of Bulgaria said for players to develop, they must play many tournaments. Petrov observed that the reason why European countries have better players is because they play many tournaments compared to African countries.
One of the players, Mosenya Ndawana said their target is a medal in their category. He said it will be far-fetched to target the World Championship.
Women: Thapelo Francis, Onkemetse Francis, Mbo Mabedi, Boikhutso Mudongo and Palesa Mooketsi.
Men: Ndawana, Moakofhi Nota, Keletshabile Monnaatsheko, Thuso Mosutha and Otsile Mapini.
Head of delegation: Gofaone Baleseng and Motlhokomedi Thabano (team manager).
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