PALAPYE: BotAsh Open Championship defending champion, Ndachipiwa Kgomotso returns after three months of inactivity to defend her title this weekend.
The tournament, sponsored by Botswana Ash, will be played in Sowa Town. Kgomotso is aware of the ever-increasing competition in the women’s section.
Kgomotso said during her break, she has been preparing to wade-off competition from the young rising chess players. “I feel I am in the right frame and up to par with other players, despite the break. Well, it’s not yet where I want to be but I am confident I can defend the title,” she said.
Kgomotso admitted the playing ground has become tougher since the younger chess players came into the scene. “I have done my homework but I know I will not get this on a silver platter. Competition is tough in the women section.”
The 25-year-old said the younger sensations in the likes of Refilwe Gabatshwarwe, Naledi Marape, Besa Masaiti and Otisitswe Ruth amongst others have raised hands and are very hungry. “Honestly it is tough to face these girls. It is a bitter pill to be outsmarted by a younger player. But I am happy to have them because they help us improve individually and also improve the standard of our local game.” Apart from the younger sensations, Ndachipiwa will have to worry about the availability of Onkemetse Francis who is currently in camp with the national team for the
Francis was the first winner of the BotAsh Open when it was incepted. “I want to reclaim what is rightfully mine,” said Francis.
Botswana’s highly rated woman chess player is training under South Africa’s International Master, Daniel Cowdry. She said she would be using the tournament to gauge her new openings and game tactics. “I will be relying much on my experience and the new tactics. It helps to have an international trainer, and I am hoping it will give me an edge.”
Francis’ woman national team partner and on-form Refilwe Gabatshware will not be taking part in the competition, her coach, Moroka Motlogelwa said.
The break is to allow the 14-year-old to recover ahead of the African Games after a tough year of a series of competitions.
In the men’s section, International Master, Providence Oatlhotse would be looking to make amends after losing the BotAsh Championship to Zimbabwe’s Spencer Masango last year.
Phemelo Kheto is also expected to add competition to a tournament that promises sparks in both the Open and the Women’s section.
BotAsh has improved their support to P60, 000 up from P50,000. The Open section winner will walk away P5, 500. The women section winner will pocket P3,500 and the player who wins in the youth section pockets P400 and chess equipment.