The Metropolitan National Chess Championship defending champions Candidate Master Barileng Gaealafshwe has vowed to defend his title. Gaealafshwe, who is the 2017 champion, says it is very important for him to defend the title as he is looking to upgrade his title to at least Fide Master (FM) at the end of the year. He said winning the Championships will put him in a better position to upgrade to Fide Master Title. Gaealafshwe’s title defending pursuit starts this weekend as he will take part in the Metropolitan National Chess Championship 2nd qualifiers. He has been exempted from the 1st qualifiers by virtue of being the champion. Speaking to this publication in an interview this week Gaealafshwe said he has been preparing very hard for the competition since the beginning of the year. The 36-year-old has started the year very well by winning the Botswana Chess Federation’s Air-efficiency Year opener Chess Championship. Since winning this title he has been training in preparation to defend his national championship title. “It is very important for me to defend this title because the champions get an automatic spot in the national team for the chess Olympiad. I have been working very hard for this competition and I believe that my hard work shall pay off,” he said.
Gaealafshwe said going to the Olympiad will give him a better chance of upgrading his title from candidate master to Fide Master. It is his aim that by the end of 2018 he would have reached this target. His goal therefore is to defend his Metropolitan National Chess Championship. This can only happen if he qualifies for the next round of the championship where top 10 players will battle it out for the crown from 30th March - 2 April 2018. Although he says a lot is at stake for him to defend his title, Gaealafshwe has acknowledged that the competition is growing every time as a result he will be expecting fierce opposition from his opponents. He said a lot of young players are coming up very strong and pose a great challenge. “There are a lot of young players who are even hungrier than me and they prove to be a force to reckon with,” he said. Some of the players that are expected to give Gaealafshwe a run for his money include among others the promising FM Thato Olebile, FM Phemelo Khetho and CM Thabo Gumbo.