International Master (IM) Providence Oatlhotse and Woman Fide Master (WFM) Besa Masaiti emerged the champions of the recent Botswana Chess Federation (BCF) national team selection tournament that was held in Gaborone at the weekend. The duo dominated their respective categories to earn slots in the national team that is set to represent the country at the upcoming continental and international tournaments billed for this year such as World Chess Olympiad.
The open section was contested by a total of 9 men and IM Oatlhotse conquered the section with a total of 6.5 points after a tightly contested final against Gomolemo Rongwane who finished second with 5.5 points. Enroute to the finals Oatlhotse faced Oratile Kgotlane, Bojosi Sabure and Keletshabile Monnatsheko. Candidate Masters (CM) Ndawana Mosenya and Thuso Mosutha missed out in the national team after finishing on position 7th and 9th respectively.
The women contest was ruled by the Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) elite scholarship recipient Masaiti who is based in United States of America (SA) after amassing a total of 5.0 points. Her category was made from 6 players after the other 5 failed to show up for the tournament including veteran players Women Grand Master (WGM) Tuduetso Sabure and Women International Master (WIM) Onkemetse Francis. WFM Naledi Marape, Woman Candidate Master (WCM) Natalie Banda, WCM Arona Moshoboro and Ruth Otisitswe were also selected in the national team after finishing in top 5.
In a post-match interview with Gazette Sport, Masaiti said she is happy that she managed to come back home to compete fairly for her spot into the national team despite minor challenges she encountered in process. “ I am disappointed about the controversy of senior national team players who decided not to come and play with us, it affected us emotionally because their presence always motivate us. Nonetheless I am happy with the performance of the young girls who showed potential and made it to the team, I believe that we have what it takes to represent our country at the world Olympiad. I have been working hard in USA in my efforts to better my performance in academics and sports and I am also happy that my coaches notice the improvement and progress that I have made so far,” she said.
For his part BCF mouthpiece, Dave Thabo Motshabi said the tournament was a success despite starting on a low note after some senior players boycotted the tournament. “We had a few challenges that almost delayed the start of the tournament where some players boycotted the tournament due to some technical reasons that are before the executive committee. We are also thrilled with the performance that the youngsters displayed, and we can safely say the team that we have selected will represent us well”. He concluded.