PALAPYE: The Botswana Chess Federation (BCF) has engaged two international chess grandmasters from Russia and Egypt to prepare the two teams that will represent the country at the 43rd Chess Olympiad scheduled for Batumi, Georgia in September.
Grandmaster Nikolai Chadaev from Russia will train the women’s team while Egyptian Esam El Gindy will be in charge of the men’s team as they prepare for the tournament, which runs from September 23 to October 6, 2018. The two are expected to start their respective month-long assignments on August 21.
The 30-year-old Russian was crowned grandmaster at the age of 22 in 2010. He is not new to the country, having previously trained the youth team that represented Botswana at the Africa Schools Chess Championships held in Zimbabwe last year. His team won nine gold medals and was crowned the champions of Africa.
He has a mammoth task ahead if he is to improve the local team’s performance. At the last Olympiad in Baku, the local women hit a rough patch and dropped in rankings. They entered the tournament ranked 87th and dropped to 104 after the showpiece.
They have made improvements since and are now ranked 97th. Women International Master (WIM) Onkemetse Francis is the sole player who has made the cut for the women’s team that represented the country at the previous Olympiad.
The tried and tested Francis will lead Chadaev’s team. She has competed in three Olympiads since the 40th Olympiad held in Istanbul, Turkey in 2012.
The team comprises WIM Kgalalelo Bothole, who also previously competed in an Olympiad. Young Women FIDE Master Besa Masaiti, who is ranked third in Africa, is expected to shine in her maiden Olympiad. Other team members are Ndachipiwa Kgomotso and Boitumelo Radikoro.
BCF president, Mothokomedi Tlhabano spoke highly of the two grandmasters. “Chadaev has left a lasting impression the last time he was here. His team responded well and we are expecting the same,” he said.
“El Gindy brings vast experience. We believe he will make a lot of difference in the full month he
The 52-year-old Egyptian chess grandmaster and FIDE trainer El Gindy has represented his country in three chess Olympiads, two FIDE World Chess Championships and Five Chess World Cups. He is a former Egyptian Champion (2002) and African Champion (2003).
El Gindy has an equally experienced team that is not new to international competitions. Phemelo Khetho has played in seven Olympiads since making his bow in the competition at the 35th Olympiad in Bled, Slovenia in 2002. Gaelapfswe Barileng has played in five.
The current top-ranked Motswana, at 2206, Providence Oatlhotswe has played in three Olympiads. Notha Moakofi will be making his third appearance and Thabo Gumpo his second.
El Gindy will be expected to propel a team that has been performing soundly. They have been improving since the Baku Olympiad where they were ranked 145th when they arrived and went out 10 places better at 135th with an overall rating of 2021. The team has been rising steadily and will enter the 2018 competition ranked 113th, with an overall rating of 2128.
Meanwhile, BCF will this weekend hold the finals of the Debswana Youth Championships and a coaching clinic at Mabogo Junior School in Palapye. Masaiti is expected to lock brains with the likes of Naledi Marape, Ruth Otisitswe, Thimboke Tumelo and Iphaja Masale amongst other local young chess sensations.
“It is by far good training for Besa (Masaiti), it will be no walk in the park. These finals will host the crème de la crème of the country and these young chess players are improving rapidly every day,” Tlhabano said, noting it will not come as a surprise when a name that is not dominant, clinches the championship.