PALAPYE: The local Chess phenomenon, 14-year-old Refilwe Gabatshwarwe left a mark at the just-concluded Africa Chess Championships in Ghana where she clinched the bronze medal after finishing third.
When the competition took off last week, the Botswana national team player was ranked fifth in the competition. In the eight rounds played at the African Under-20 showpiece, Gabatshwarwe secured seven wins, drew once and lost once to finish with seven and a half points out of nine.
She succumbed to the 16-year-old Angolan Pires Luzia who entered the competition ranked first and ultimately won the showpiece. Luzia was rated 1934 to Gabatshwarwe’s 1615 when the competition started.
She cruised in the first two rounds of the tournament before meeting Luzia at Board 1. She met second-rated Enomah Emanuella Trust in Board two in the fourth round and secured a draw after Luzia beat her.
She became invincible after the fourth round and disposed of all her opponents including silver medalist Algerian Djerroud Chahrazed to the last round. She finished tied with silver medalist at six and half.
The Women Candidate Master was not only elated with a Bronze medal but was also happy with an improved rating. She was also handed a provisional title of Women Fide Master.
The youngster admitted the competition was tough in her maiden African Youth Championship. Gabatshwarwe believes she can do better in future with improved time management that she figured undid her in some of the games.
“But overall I am happy with my performance. I did well against very good players with decent ratings, and that has improved my rating,” she spoke in an interview after the tournament in Ghana.
Botswana Chess Federation President Mooketsi Thabano who had accompanied Gabtshwarwe to Accra, Ghana, reckoned the future was bright for the starlet. He applauded Gabatshwarwe for finishing a point below the ultimate winner and for her improved ratings and earning a provisional title of WFM.
Thabano said with continued support, the player, and other local young players can win the ‘toughest Africa Junior Championship’ in future.
“We played very well. She had enough game time. It is unfortunate that she lost, but she lost to a very strong opponent. Refilwe is only 14 (years) and she will surely win it one of the years.
We just need to continue supporting the pool of young players that we have and we will achieve the greatest,” the president said.