The Botswana Senior national chess has arrived in Madagascar to compete in the Zone 4.3 Chess Championships that will run until May 5.
The three man team comprises IM Providence Oatlhotse, FM Phemelo Khetho and WIM Onkemetse Francis – the only woman in the team. The tournament features best chess players from the southern African region who will contest for supremacy in the open and ladies section.
IM Oatlhotse earned the spot in the team by virtue of being the highest rated player in the country with a record Elo rating of 2320 which he acquired early this year. On the other hand, FM Khetho booked a spot following his triumph at the 2019 Metropolitan National Championships where he emerged as the champion after acquiring eight (8) points in the tournament. Thus as the 2019 victor FM Khetho automatically qualified for the national team.
WIM Francis joins the team as the most highly rated player from the women’s section. However her inclusion in the team has raised some eyebrows as she has been missing in action since returning from the chess Olympiad last year.
She has missed the year opener tournament Air Efficiency and the qualification round of the Metropolitan Championship this year; only featuring for her club during the Debswana Chess League games. However her experience with the national team cannot be overlooked as she is one of the longest serving members of the team. She is a bronze medalist from the 2018 edition of the Zone 4.3 tournament which was held in Mozambique.
“I have been preparing with chess videos and puzzles and I hope that will be enough because I’m a hard worker. I have been missing in action for a while but I played the league to try to get used to time control and also dust off the rustiness. Looking at the fact that I’m number three on the starting rank and that I’m familiar with most of the opponents, I think I can do much better than last year,” said WIM Francis.
Last year the duo of Khetho and Francis won silver and bronze medals at the same tournament while Oatlhotse didn’t do well, finishing on position 17. Oatlhotse will be looking forward to redeem himself during the tourney and try to secure a podium finish which eluded him last year.
“I have a specific preparation for the tournament and some of those tactics I do not expose easily at every tournament. I consider myself a favorite to win this competition because I’m well experienced with playing many of players at this tournament from international events I have played in the past months. I’m hoping to use my extensive repertoire and intense end game skill to outplay many of the players. I didn’t do well last year because I lost a family member while at the competition but this time around there is no such unfortunate event so my hope and courage is stronger and higher,” said the confident IM Oatlhotse.