For the first time in history, big names in the local chess fraternity will not be part of the national team that will represent the country at the coming Chess Olympiad in Azerbaijan, Baku in September 2016. This follows a new selection criteria introduced this year by the Botswana Chess Federation (BCF) where players battle it out on the board for the spot in the team. The 10 member team that has recently been announced by BCF compose mainly of young players with no big name especially the men’s side. This according to BCF public relations director Keenese Katisenge is a sign that there is too much talent in the country. Katisenge said the newly introduced selection criterion has helped revive even players who had given up since it is through their performance that they can make the national team.
She said the new system has heightened competition locally and the youngsters have been working very hard to earn a place in the team. “This has increased competitiveness of players as those who do well will earn their spot in the national team. Previously BCF chose players based on their past accomplishments and sometimes not current form. Even though this criteria has had an overwhelming support some especially senior players have expressed reservations about the selection process. However, Katisenge said they never received any formal complaint from any player or individual. “We want to improve the game of chess that is why we have an open door policy for everyone to come to us and help us improve. However, some people only go to the media to and not us, so there is no how we can address their problems if they do not bring them to us,” explained Katisenge.
For a long time BCF has been investing a lot in the development of young players from grass roots level. The composition of the national team proves that strides are being made. A number of young player have been emerging over the few years and Katisenge is confident that the country will produce a number of international masters in the near future. Since the selected chess national team is made mainly of inexperienced places as far as international arena is concerned BCF spokesperson said they will hold monthly tournaments for them to prepare for the Olympiad. She explained that the team will also be sent to international competitions where they will be exposed to experienced players.
The federation is currently looking for a top quality coach to prepare the team for the chess Olympiad. “We want to make these youngsters ready for the world stage. While looking for a coach we will use local coaches to hone their skills for the coming Olympiad,” said Katisenge. She also said the experienced players will also be enlisted to help put the team up to speed. Katisenge believe that given the chance the youngsters will develop into great players. She said they only need guidance as they have already shown that they are capable by defeating experienced players. In the male section only one titled player made it to the team while the four other are yet to be titled.
CM Moakofi Notha
WIM Boikhutso Mudongo
WIM Onkemetse Francis
WFM Thapelo Francis