Local chess protégé competes in Europe

02nd May 2017
CHESS PLAYERS Source:The Midweek Sun

Botswana’s Woman Fide Master (WFM) Besa Masaiti, 15, is in Lasi Romania to represent the country at the 2017 World Schools Chess Championships that began on 23rd April and will end 1st May 2017.

She is the only African participating in the Under 15 section and is currently ranked 15th in the tournament. She is facing stiff competition from 27 European players competing in the same category. Botswana Chess Federation (BCF) spokesperson Keenese Katisenge said Masaiti did not begin her tournament on a good note, as she lost her first match to the highly-ranked South America Champion, Aleyla Hilario of Peru Federation.

However, Katisenge says they are still expecting a lot from Masaiti and Botswana should remain confident that she will up her game as the tournament unfolds. Masaiti qualified for the event in 2016 after winning the Under 15 girls’ section of the African Schools Chess Championships in Lusaka, Zambia in 2016. Masaiti trains under the watchful eye of her doting father and coach Charles Masaiti.

A total of P21 000 was raised by well- wishers and family members for the chess prodigy to compete in the European tournament. In a brief interview yesterday, her coach expressed optimism that the athlete will bounce back. “This is a high-level competition, it is intimidating but experience, lessons and exposure to be gained will make a turnaround,’’ he said.

He said there are over 500 students from all over the world accompanied by close to 600 parents and officials in the competition. There are only five Africans at the tournament, three from Zimbabwe and one from South Africa; he added that countries from Europe take chess very seriously with parents emotionally attached to the tournament.

Masaiti is expected to play a total of nine games. She departs Romania on May 2. Competing in Romania has added her name to the list of elite local chess players that have been privileged enough to compete at World Schools Championships. 

She is also one of the first to earn the right to play and represent Botswana internationally under the Botswana Primary School Sport Association (BOPSSA). In 2016, she dominated at the ‘Re Ba Bona Ha’ Youth Chess Championships for Under 14 girls. 

She also did well in Mater Spei Chess Festival, the Airfficiency Chess Championships and the En-peasant Chess Club Youth Championships. Masaiti has been clinging to the ‘Re Ba Bona Ha’ championship title for nearly three years in a row. The past two years have seen her reaching the top ten in all women sections of open chess tournaments.

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