Lesotho booted out of online Chess Olympiad


Leemisa Thuseho

THE Lesotho Chess national team has been eliminated from the ongoing 2020 International Chess Federation (FIDE) Online Olympiad.

The side was eliminated on Sunday from the tournament which started on 25 July and is ending on 30 August 2020.

While other countries with lower rankings started the tournament at the Base Division stage, Lesotho started at Stage 4 based on its previous performances in the Olympiads.

Lesotho’s was booted out after winning only three games out of nine. They drew two and lost four thereby failing to advance to Stage 3 of the tournament.

Each Division had five pools of 10 teams each. Only the top three countries from each pool qualified to the next stage.

In Pool C, Lesotho finished sixth with eight points, tied with Sudan who finished fifth. However, the tie breaker favoured Sudan over Lesotho based on game points. Lesotho amassed 26 points while Sudan had 27 points.

Mauritius topped the pool with 17 points while Lebanon finished second with 16 points. Nigeria also proceeded to Division 3 after finishing third with 15 points.

Regardless of failing to qualify for next division, Lesotho team captain Mphetole Mona said he was happy with his side’s performance particularly during the first two days.

“Our performance was impressive in the first two days where we won three games, drew in 2 and lost one,” Mona said.

“Unfortunately, in the last day we lost all our games.

“Some of the games that we lost, we actually had great chances. Therefore, it is a lesson to keep our calm psychologically next time and convert games in which we have an advantage.”

The tournament saw Lesotho’s chess starlets Lebajoa Tšephe, Lebake Mojakisane and Bonolo Ntsielo making their debut appearances in the prestigious competition.

Mona said the trio impressed him.

“I tried to settle them psychologically and the presence of experienced players helped them too. They were able to play their game.

“I am also happy with the experience they got and I am happy to see them winning against higher rated players in some games,” Mona added.

The first ever online Olympiad replaced the now postponed Olympiad which had been penned in for August this year in Russia and will now be held next year. This was necessitated by the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. The Russia event has now been postponed to next year.

Lesotho’s team was made up of Tokelo Klaas, Khanyapa Theko, Maboloko Leboela, ‘Malehloa Likhomo, Lebajoa Tšephe and Bonolo Ntsielo.

The reserve players were Joang Molapo, Sechaba Khalema, Naleli McPherson, Lieketseng Ngatane, Letlotlo Lebakae and ‘Malillo Phera.


Results for all nine games:

Round 1 (Malawi 2-4 Lesotho),

Round 2 (Lesotho 6-0 Cameroon),

Round 3 (Lesotho 1-5 Nigeria),

Round 4 (Lesotho 3.5-2.5 eSwatini),

Round 5 (Lesotho 3-3 Oman),

Round 6 (Lesotho 3-3 Sudan),

Round 7 (Lesotho 1.5-4.5 Lebanon),

Round 8 (Lesotho 2-4 Mauritius)

Round 9 (Lesotho 2-4 Ethiopia).

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