Fireworks expected at chess championship

Fireworks expected at chess championship

MASERU – Lesotho’s top chess players will descend on the BMI Hotel in Teyateyaneng this weekend to battle for the country’s chess crown at the National Chess Championship. The two-day tournament is being hosted by the Lesotho Chess Association (LCA) and will get underway on Saturday.
A prize giving ceremony has been scheduled for Sunday.

This year’s competition also has added significance because the LCA will use the occasion to hand-pick Lesotho’s team for next September’s global Chess Olympiad in Batumi, Georgia.
In total, five players will be chosen for the national side with the country set to return to the biennial world games after promising appearances in 2014 and 2016.

In 2016, Lesotho returned with three World Chess Federation rated players – Joang Molapo, Lieketseng Ngatane and Maboloka Leboela.
So, with the stakes higher than usual, LCA secretary general ‘Mahlaoli Manyeli said she is expecting fireworks when the action begins in Teyateyaneng.

This year the National Chess Championship is fully sponsored by BMI, a sign of its growth.
For example, the year 52 players have qualified from the country’s ten districts, the highest number to ever compete at the tournament.
“This is the annual championship where we select Lesotho’s champion,” Manyeli said.

“The players have already qualified from all the regions (in the country) and it was a fair qualification. This year it is very special as we will also be selecting players to join the national team at the Chess Olympiad next year. Players will be gaining from this tournament by making it into the national team.”

The growth of the championship is equally exciting, Manyeli added.
“Compared to previous years the tournament has improved a lot,” she explained.
“Every year the number of people participating grows, this year 52 players qualified, so it has grown a lot.”

This year there are also no categories; juniors, seniors, men and women will all compete against each other to decide an overall champion.
That champion will walk away with a trophy, gold medal, chess clock, chess book and a full chess set.
“We are expecting a high-quality tournament and we are looking forward to it,” Manyeli said.

Luciah Phahla

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