NINE-YEAR old chess starlet Reitumetsi Taioe got the better of female national chess champion Malehloa Likhomo to win the Maseru Open Chess Tournament championship hosted by the Chess Federation of Lesotho (CFL) at the weekend.
Taioe, who was also named the best junior in female section, collected 10 points after winning five games and bagged a gold medal and M450 while national champion Likhomo settled for second with nine points.
The male category was won by the reigning Lesotho Annual Sport Awards (LASA) sportsmen of the year, Sechaba Khalema, with 10 points while Tokelo Klass, who was crowned the Sports Star of the Year came second with nine points.
Khalema took home M650, a trophy and a gold medal while Klass got a silver medal.
Lekau Ramokotjo and Nteboheleng Thetsane tied in third place with eight points.
CFL public relations officer Selatela Khiba said the tournament, which had 58 participants was a success.
“We had 58 players in this tournament, 46 in the Open Section and 12 in the ladies’ section and it was a success,” Khiba said this week.
“The contest was in preparation for a tournament which we will host a build up to the zonal competitions early next year. We will be playing in three tournaments including the National Championships where players will accumulate points and we will take the top 10 from the three competitions. The 10 will play in the Lesotho Closed Tournament which will save as the qualifiers for the main event in February.
“The next competition, the Winter Open, is in July while the National Championship will follow in November. After that we will then have the Lesotho Closed early next.”
Khiba said the names of the players who will qualify in next year’s zonal competitions will only be released at a later stage.
“It is now important for the players to keep on working hard collecting points because we are still unsure of the number of players who will be allowed to go to the zonal competitions next year. Although we had six representatives in Madagascar last year, the numbers keep changing.’
He said they are already preparing for the August 2019 Chess Olympiad which will be staged in Russia.
“The work has already begun. It is important for everyone to keep working hard to collect points. We are also eyeing the Chess Olympiad, so more tournaments will also help the players,” said Khiba.
Khiba said there has been immense improvement in local chess.
“Things have changed. We have moved from the time when players went into the tournament already knowing that they are going to win. Now, the level of competition is high and that means our players need to put in more work,” Khiba said.