Mpene pulls shocker during chess selection

Mpene PIC: KENNEDY RAMOKONE
Mpene PIC: KENNEDY RAMOKONE

Thuto Mpene has earned the distinction of being the youngest player to advance to the next stage of the Botswana chess national team selection. The 15-year-old sailed through during the Open section qualification, held over the weekend at the University of Botswana.

Mpene is amongst eight male players set to compete from February 29 to March 3 for coveted slots in the 2024 national team.

Despite coaching himself, he keeps abreast of the game through online matches featuring grandmasters. Mpene found himself without a coach after his trainer, Opelo Maswabi, was transferred to Shakawe in 2021.

Mpene’s mother, Kelebogile Mpene expressed her excitement about her son’s performance.


“It is a big surprise, something that I did not expect at all. He is a talented player who loves chess with all his heart. I expect him to go far in this game,” Kelebogile told Mmegi Online. Meanwhile, Botswana Chess Federation (BCF) spokesperson Goitsemodimo Makgatle revealed that the eight male finalists will compete for three slots. “The three will be joined by International Master (IM) Providence Oatlhotse and the player who will win the Metropolitan National Championships to make the national team that will represent Botswana at the 2024 FIDE Olympiad in Budapest, Hungary, in September,” she explained. Makgatle further outlined the women's selection process, where eight players from the initial round will be joined by elite scholars Besa Masaiti and Naledi Marape. The top three will secure spots in the national team, accompanied by the winner of the Metropolitan National Championships and Woman Candidate Master Natalie Banda.

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