Even without two of Botswana’s top rated chess players the team that will represent the country at the 2014 Chess Olympiad in Tromso, Norway is expected to do well. The team of five men and five women is said to be in a good shape for the world showpiece that kick starts off on 1st August 2014.
The team is without International Master Providence Oatlhotse and Women Grand Master Tuduetso Sabure who did not make it to the final squad that leaves for Norway on the 31st July 2014. The two players were part of the team that performed wonders at the 2012 Chess Olympiad in Istanbul, Turkey.
However, Botswana Chess Federation (BCF) spokesperson Keenese Katiseng said this will not affect the team’s performance. Katisenge is confident that the team will do well at next month’s Olympiad since they prepared well. She said preparations for the Olympiad are going on well and have started way back in January. In their preparations the Chess team has been involved in different local and regional tournaments. They recently represented Botswana at the Zone 4.3 championships in Namibia where the lady’s team brought back two medals.
Katisenge said most of the players who make up the team played at the previous Olympiad and proved competitive. She explained that when choosing the team they did not only look at the playing strength of players but a lot of other things. “A number of factors were taken into consideration including commitment, discipline and age,” she said. BCF’s mission is to develop talent and they have fielded young players in the likes of Moakofhi Notha and Thato Olebile who have been at the top of their game in recent years.
Katisenge said even though the Olympiad is the biggest chess tournament which brings together world’s best players she is confident the local lads will do well at the competition. She said the arrival of a highly ranked Russian coach Grand Master Igor Vladimirovich in Botswana is also a boost to the team. The Russian Grandmaster has been appointed by BCF to work with them to hone their tactics before the start of the tournament.
However Vladimirovich only came to Botswana this week, three weeks prior the commencement of the Olympiad. This is seen by some as a very short period for the coach to be able get the team into shape for the games. Nonetheless, Katisenge said the coach is not new to Botswana and he understands the play of the local players so he would not have a problem trying to figure out what they need. She revealed that it is very expensive to bring a very experienced coach to Botswana and BCF does not have enough money to keep the Russian in Botswana for a long time.
Vladimirovich Botswana national chess team coach in 2012 and went with the team again to the Olympiad in Turkey. Under his leadership the team managed to put an impressive performance against the world’s best. Even though there are no set targets for the team this year Katisenge said they are looking forward for some players bringing back sectional medals. She is confident that some players will also improve their ratings as well as attain higher titles. Botswana men’s team in made of Phemelo Khetho, Ignatius Njobvu, Barileng Gaealafshwe, Thato Olebile and Moakofhi Notha while the women’s teams comprises of Boikhutso Modongo, Tshepiso Lopang, Kgalalelo Botlhole, Onkemetse Francis and Thapelo Francis.