Clubs want league halted over absent players

The chess league returns on Saturday PIC: Moreri Sejakgomo
The chess league returns on Saturday PIC: Moreri Sejakgomo

Some chess clubs have asked the Botswana Chess Federation (BCF) to halt the league due to the absence of national team players who are in Morocco for the African Games.

The Debswana Chess League starts this weekend, but some clubs like Black Bishops and Poisonous Snakes are without key players who are with the national side.

International Master (IM) Providence Oatlhotse plays for Chess Motifs, Woman International Master Onkemetse Francis while Woman Candidate Master (WCM) Refilwe Gabatshwane plays for Bishops.

According to one of the affected players, FIDE Master Phemelo Kheto of Snakes, the Botswana Chess Federation (BCF) executive committee wants the league to proceed despite the absence of some players.  He argued that in the past, competitions have been postponed when one or more players were away on national duty.

“But this time around, things are different because some of members of the executive belong to clubs that stand to benefit from this arrangement,” he said. Kheto said last year’s national team playoffs were called off as one player was away.

“The Botswana Open was called off because the national team was away and the 2019 women’s National Championships were postponed because of the youth team and many other occasions, but this time around different standards are being applied,” he said.

He said Bishops is due to play against En-Passant and both teams are in contention to win the championship. Kheto added that Bishops has two players, Francis and Gabatshwane in Morocco.

The league director, Lesego Selemogwe said the league will go ahead because players who are absent have reserves.

The decision to continue with the league was reached on Wednesday.

BCF president, Mothokomedi Thabano told Mmegi Sport that they decided to proceed with the league as players who have been on national duty are arriving in the country today.  

He said there is no need to waste time but the players should hit the ground running.

The chess league final starts tomorrow until Sunday at the University of Botswana. There would be three rounds played on Saturday and one round is reserved for Sunday.  The league has been running for the past four months. En-passant are the defending champion.

The club stands a good chance of retaining the title as they lead the 16-club assembly, with 70.5 points from 11 games.

Bishops is second with 63.5 points followed by Chess Motifs who have garnered 57 points.

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