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Botswana, Zimbabwe chess stars collide


Botswana’s young chess princess Woman Candidate Master (WCM) Naledi Marape is expected to shine at youth challenge that will be hosted for youthful players from Botswana and Zimbabwe this coming weekend.

Botswana Chess Federation has organised the tourney that is scheduled to take place from Saturday to Sunday at Legae Academy. A lot is expected from the young lady as young minds from the two countries will look to outsmart each other on the board game table. At age 9, Marape is already the reigning Under 9 African Schools Individual Chess girl’s champion.

The player has impressed authorities at the chess body, with many already seeing her as Botswana’s future icon. The chess body’s PR Diirector Keenese Katisenge has this to say about her: “Unlike many of her age mates, Naledi plays with the precision and calmness of a senior player. Her tactical ability way surpasses that of her age mates and she has a quick eye for check mates even with three of four moves ahead.”

Marape is undoubtedly the greatest thing to happen to youth chess in Botswana. Even at her age, she has lost count of the medals she has amassed from local and Continental tournaments (2015 South African Open U9 Girls Section bronze medallist, 2015 Botswana Youth Open U9 Girls Section Gold Medalist, Palapye Youth Open U9 Girls Section Gold Medallist, Enpassent Youth Open Girls Section Gold Medalist) , she was also awarded a standard FIDE rating  by the World Chess Federation in March 2015, becoming the youngest rated player in Botswana.

Rated 1245 according to August 2015 FIDE (World Chess Federation) Standard play ratings, Naledi recorded an above performance rating of 1336 during the African Schools Chess Championships, a demonstration that she is indeed too strong for her age mates.

Her performance at the tournament (African Schools Chess Champs) has earned a Woman Candidate Master (WCM) title qualification awarded by the World Chess Federation at the 2015 Congress that was held on September 2 this year in Abhu Dabi, United Arab Emirates.  She became the 3rd WCM in Botswana after Ontiretse Sabure and Lame Kolaatamo.

All eyes will be on the player this weekend at Legae, where another local, Fide Master Abhiram Sasitharan is also expected to play. The players will compete in seven rounds in 45 minutes per game. Katisenge told Pula24 that they will also be using the tournament as a talent searching exercise, adding that the winning players will receive various prizes.

Young Naledi Marape at a recent chess event


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