Chess team wins medals in Madagascar

SHARE   |   Wednesday, 15 May 2019   |   By Baitshepi Sekgweng
Onkemetse Francis and Naledi Marape Onkemetse Francis and Naledi Marape

Botswana senior national Chess team recovered from a poor start to win two medals at the 2019 Africa Zone 4.3 Chess Championships which was held in Madagascar despite the gender row which threatened the team prior to the tournament. The competition was held from the 27th of April until the 4th of May. Botswana had sent three athletes to the tournament; that is    two males and one lady to face the best players from   the rest of the South African region. However the team was joined by two youthful players who self sponsored themselves to the event.

All the two medals came from the ladies section with Woman International Master Onkemetse Francis wining silver while young chess star   Woman Fide Master Naledi Marape   scooped bronze. Having won bronze medal in the last edition in Mozambique last year, WIM Francis was determined to   perform better this year   going unbeaten in the tournament   with seven wins and   two draws to finish with 8 points. This  a performance which earned  Francis  the second position with just a half a point behind the champion WIM Carita Esparanca of Angola.


“The tourney was fairly competitive and I was the second highest rated player and I managed to finish second which is not quite bad. It was challenging  for me   because  I have been absent  from the chess scene  for a while, I struggled  in few games especially  the one against  the  champion. But I’m very  happy  to have  won  a medal  because it is a  confidence boost  for me if I play at continental level. I’m also hoping that we will take part in the All Africa games this year,” said WIM Francis in an interview.

For WFM Marape who sponsored herself to the tournament, it was a   tough contest at the beginning with the 13 year old registering two successive losses and   draws. However she bounced  back  to   secure  five consecutive   victories  to  finish the competition on  6 points and to secure  the  third  position  behind compatriot WIM Francis.  Another Botswana player Woman Candidate Master Natalie Banda who also was sponsored by her parents only managed position 8 finish after accumulating 2 points in her first zonal tournament. She was honoured for being the youngest particiapant at the competition.


The  open section   duo of International  Master Providence Oatlhotse and Fide Master Phemelo Khetho had a tournament to forget  after faring dismally  in the   competition .IM Oatlhotse who once   had the chance of breaking through  to the podium  positions   throughout the event  ended on position 6 after amassing  6 points while FM Khetho   who won silver medal  last year from the  same  tournament  finished overall 13th  with 3.5 points  out of 16 participants.

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