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Chess star defies hectic schedule to pass with flying colours

Brilliance on and off the board: Masaiti aced her exams PIC: KOKETSO KGOBOGE
PALAPYE: Despite a demanding sport schedule, Botswana FIDE Master, Besa Masaiti has passed her Botswana General Certificate of Secondary Education examinations with flying colours.

The chess starlet was a student at Mater Spei College in Francistown and sat for her examinations last year.

She attained a 48 points with four A*, three As and two Bs. She got A* in Chemistry, Physics, Commerce and French.

She attained the three As in Biology, Mathematics and History.

The two Bs are in Setswana and English. Masaiti re-wrote history books in 2018 when she became the youngest national team player at 16 years and compete at the chess’ ultimate competition, the Chess Olympiad in Bantumi, Georgia.

At the time, the player who had always showed potential in academics had the busiest chess year in her first year at senior secondary school and spent too much time on the road. She was temporarily transferred from her school to Ledumang Senior Secondary School in Gaborone to afford her time to prepare for the Olympiad. She went back to Mater Spei upon return from Georgia.

In the first term of her final examination year, she competed in the World Junior Championships in Turkey. 

She took a break from chess after the Turkey tournament to focus on her academic work and that proved a well calculated move for the intelligent player.

Masaiti said chess took most of her time to a point her teachers were worried she would fail her examinations.

Masaiti said she pushed herself even at times when she was worn out after

competing in tough tournaments, which drained her mentally.

The 17-year-old said she carried her academic material around the world where she competed and always found time to work on her studies. Masaiti said her teachers encouraged and advised her chess would not put food on the table.  She said top of her priorities was to uplift her family, and that encouraged her to strike a balance between her love for the game and academics.

She however, believes chess lifted her and contributed in her overwhelming academic achievement.

“I always wanted to uplift my family and I have seen myself as an idol to others. I had worked so hard to ensure I become a better idol.

My teachers warned that people who spend so much time in sport often end up with bad results and I wanted to prove to them sport and academics can go together,” she said.

Although Masaiti is considering pursuing a demanding Biomedical course, she said she still harboured ambitions of becoming a prominent chess player and she will continue to balance academics and the game in pursuit for grandmaster title.

“I know academic commitments are going to demand even more time but chess is a game that elevated me so much and got me into this path. I will continue competing in top tournaments and focus on achieving my targets in the game,” she said.




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