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Khetho fired up ahead of Olympiad battle

FIDE Phemelo Khetho is upbeat ahead of the Chess World Olympiad slated for later this year in Georgia. Khetho flexed his muscle when he finished second during the recent Southern African Chess Championships in Maputo, Mozambique.

Khetho is on the rise after a four-year bad patch. He told Mmegi Sport yesterday that to be the second best in the region means a lot.

“I mean winning a local weekend tournament on its own is enough to drive one over the moon, now you can imagine what it means to play well at such level,” he said.

He said he feels that he is getting back to form, but that has been helped a lot by playing every local event since the beginning of the year.

“Botswana Chess Federation (BCF) has recently revived the chess league after almost 10 years. The league helps in keeping players active,” he said.

The Federation has also introduced a month-end blitz tournament. He said that means every month they have slow chess (league) and speed chess (blitz) events, which are enough to keep players busy and a chance to improve.

Khetho is part of the team that has been selected to represent Botswana at the upcoming chess Olympiad.

The 43rd Chess Olympiad will take place in Batumi from September 23 to October 6, 2018. Khetho said excelling at the regional competition is a serious message for the Olympiad. He said players should not be distracted by their past success.

“We should always be focused on the future, otherwise the ego (from the past) messes up everything,” he said.

Regarding past performances by local players at the Olympiad, Khetho said team spirit is important. He

said if the team is in good spirits, they can put a good fight. Khetho said the other factor is preparation. He explained that for each team, the Olympiad has to start before the actual event takes place.

“Chess is a very complex game, which is both art and science at the same time. The science part involves studying chunks and chunks of theory, opening and endgame theories,” he said.

He explained that on the science part, a player has to learn it by route and there is no way around it. Khetho said the artistic side of chess entails areas such as tactics, combinations, technique and above all intuition.

“Like all things in life, art needs constant practice in order for one to be more creative,” he adds.

Khetho said in order for the Olympiad team to play well, individuals should work hard.

Meanwhile, BCF will host the national team selection tournament this weekend. BCF spokesperson, Kutlwano Tatolo said the first slot has been filled by International Master (IM) Providence Oatlhotse and FM Khetho takes the second slot.

“There are three remaining slots to be filled. The 30 men who will be playing tomorrow are trying to qualify into the top seven who will play the final selection tournament on May 5,” she said.

Tatolo said Candidate Master (CM) Otsile Mapini who was a silver medallist at the Metropolitan National finals would join the top seven who qualify.




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