PALAPYE: Following hot on the heels of the sensational Marape siblings, Naledi and Marape Junior, another promising chess pair has emerged, pointing to a bright future for the sport.
Born and bred in the small village of Marapong, Besa and Gideon Masaiti are tipped to become the next chess stars. At the age of just 12, Gideon has won 15 medals while her elder sister Besa, 14, is the defending champion of the Debswana Re ba bona ha Under-14 girls tournament.
She has already represented the country and won gold in Zimbabwe last September. Besa has won many other medals and was awarded a gold medal by her current school, Motswedi Junior Secondary School as the best chess player.
Gideon’s achievements include winnig a gold medal at the Debswana Re ba bona ha Under-12 boys tournament last year as well as another gold at the Botswana Primmary School Sports Association (BOPSSA) chess Under-12 finals in Serowe last year.
The duo was supposed to play at the Africa Youth Chess Championship in Zambia last August but due to financial challenges, the Botswana Chess Federation could not sponsor them.
Besa was sent to the tournament after her father’s financial intervention and she did not disappoint as she brought home gold. Their tale is similar to the Marapes who are coached by their father, Marape Marape.
“My chess career path can all be attributed to my father who took his precious time to arm us with chess skills. He showed us the benefits of chess and how we can
Besa added: “Moving pieces on the board looked very impossible and learning to record the moves was not easy. Learning and appreciating the history of the top achievers sounded like a myth. Accepting our father’s motivation that we can achieve the best and shake our state President’s hand one day was difficult to believe, but I came to believe and appreciate that there is nothing imposible when you have the right mentor.”
Gideon said his dream was to become a Candidate Master or Fide-Master this year as well as lead his school, Mabogo Junior Secondary School, and the region to glory. Gideon said this would not be a difficult task as he had proven to be a leader. When he was still schooling at Kediretswe Primary School, he introduced chess game to his school and the school became the best in the region.
Their father, Charles, said he wanted to start a chess club that would groom young children.“Chess is a growing sport in Botswana and there is great potential although it is still lagging behind due to financial constraints and I call upon all the stakeholders to be fully involved,” he pleaded.