PALAPYE: Local chess sensation, Refilwe Gabatshwarwe will leave the country today (Friday) to represent the country at the Africa Under-20 Junior Championship in Accra, Ghana.
The tournament starts on Saturday and runs until November 3, 2019. It would be the first time Gabatshwarwe participates in the showpiece.
Last year, Naledi Marape represented the country and brought home a bronze medal. Gabatshwarwe qualified by virtue of being the national champion. The 14-year-old Women Candidate Master (WCM) starts at rank number five in the Under-20 section, with a rating of 1615.
She will be tested against Africa’s young top players in the likes of Angola’s Pires Luzia. Rated 1924, Angola’s 16-year-old Women Federation Master (WFM) is the tournament’s top seed.
Above Botswana’s sensation in the tournament rankings are two Nigerians; 20-year-old Enomah Emmanuella Trust also rated 1924 and 17-year-old Suleiman Aisha with 1839 in second and third ranking respectively.
Fourth in the ranking is another Angola player, 20-year-old Women International Master (WIM) Caxita Esperanca with a rating of 1803.
BCF president Mooketsi Tlhabano, who will be travelling with the player, is optimistic. She finds Gabatshwarwe, who broke into the national team earlier in the year, an “extraordinary talent and a consistent player”.
He believes with her exploits at the Africa Schools championships where she won gold and the recent performance at the Africa Games where she made her national team debut, the youngster is capable of bringing a gold medal.
Gabatshwarwe’s last tournament was the recent Botswana Open. She finished second with seven points out of nine after six wins, two draws and lost once.
“She had a lot of exposure, and she displayed it in the past tournament. She is a senior national team player and I expect her to be comfortable against her age mates.
She is focused, and I trust she will bring out the best of herself,” Tlhabano said. Gabatsharwe’s coach, Moroka Motlogelwa also believes the player will bring home a medal. The youngster has been in a six-week intensive programme, preparing for the tournament.
“She did her best against top-top players at the Africa Games and she knows what to expect.
Preparations have been intense but she was coping. She has developed a lot of confidence since breaking into the national team and with her response, I think a gold medal is possible,” Motlogelwa said.