PREPARATIONS are on course for the country to host the 2019 Zone 4.5 under-16 Chess Championship from 22 to 30 November 2019 at Blue Mountain Inn in Teyateyaneng.
The championship falls under the African Chess Confederation under the auspices of the International Chess Federation.
Chess Federation of Lesotho (CFL) spokesperson Selatela Khiba recently told the Lesotho Times that the upcoming tournament has an Olympiad setup where all teams would field five players. At least two of the players must be female while one must be a reserve.
“The event has a set up that is similar to that of an Olympiad because there will be five players, of which at least two must be female and one must be a reserve,” Khiba said.
“It also has a team captain or manager and the players collect individual points for the team.”
Khiba said out of 10 countries in the region, six have so far confirmed their participation.
“There are 10 countries in this zone but only six have confirmed participation although we still expect more.
“Chess has grown steadily after getting a positive reception from the country and I think this tournament came at the right time when we had just introduced the sport in the primary schools’ curriculum.
“It is not always easy to transport players to tournaments outside the country but now that we are playing at home, it will be much easier. The sport has improved immensely,” he said.
Khiba said as much as they are ready to host the tournament, finances remain a challenge.
“We have received some money from the international federation to host the event while the LSRC and other sponsors have also promised to come on board. We are waiting for the sponsors to fulfill their pledges so that we can increase our prizes. If they do not fulfill their pledges, we will still run the competition but with smaller prizes,” he said.
Khiba however, said now they would concentrate on preparing their teams for the tournament to ensure that they perform well considering that they are playing at home.
“We are holding a closed tournament this coming weekend at Scenery Guest House where at least six boys and four girls will be selected for the teams.
“The contestants have played well in the High Schools’ Chess Championships and some have played well in the 2019 Juniors Chess Championship,” Khiba said.