PALAPYE: Botswana Chess Federation (BCF) has selected 10 players to represent the nation in the first World Online Olympiad.
The global showpiece is billed for a period from July 22 to August 30 this year.
The tournament comes after a postponement of this year’s 44th Chess Olympiad that was initially scheduled for Khanty-Mansiysk, a Russian city that hosted the 2010 Olympiad.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak that prompted the postponement, the tournament has been moved to Moscow next year.
The Botswana select will converge at the nations capital city, Gaborone that will be its first base for the world online championship.
International Master, Providence Oatlhotse will lead the nation’s charges in the open section while Woman International Master (WIM) Onkemetse Francis will take charge of the women’s team.
Gomolemo Rongwane replaces Phemelo Khetho who has been excused with personal commitments, BCF president Motlhokomedi Tlhabano revealed. The national team will welcome back women grandmaster, Tuduetso Sabure following her lengthy absence.
Sabure and Rongwane play behind Francis and Oatlhotse respectively. Chess Master, Thabo Elias and Women Candidate Master Refilwe Gabatshwarwe will play in the Under-20 category.
FIDE Master Thato Olebile, Keletshabile Monnatsheko, WIM Boikhutso Mudongo, Women FIDE Masters Besa Masaiti and Naledi Marape, and Othata Selogelo will reserve the first team.
“It is a strong side that we have selected here, and we are optimistic we would perform well and leave a lasting mark. We are also happy to have
Preparations are ongoing to have the team play a four-nations cup that will include Zambia, Malawi and a yet to be identified nation as preparation for the showpiece. Thabano said the players have been active and were ready.
“Fortunately, they have been engaged in various online tournaments during this COVID-19 period, and all we have to do is to prepare their time checks as per the specifications of the competition,” Thabano added.
Thabano also commended the inclusion of the Under-20 category citing it would encourage and strengthen the younger players.
“It’s a brilliant development that is long overdue, and we hope FIDE would create a similar platform at the physical tournament next year.”
Botswana kicks off the competition on August 5 in the third phase thanks to an upper rating in the spectacle. Only 15 teams will progress from one stage to the next. If Botswana progresses, they would play the next stage on August 12.
Meanwhile, BCF was engaged with the local Internet service providers for a partnership for the tournament. Thabano said their negotiations were at advanced stages.
“It calls for a fast Internet connection, and I am confident that the partnership would be wrapped up soon.”