Botswana has announced that it will send a team of six players, including its Women Grand Master, to compete in the SA Women’s Open Chess Championship, taking place at Cresta Shopping Centre over the holiday weekend, April 26-29.

Botswana are currently ranked 2nd in Africa and have since received an invitation to take part in the First Woman World Chess Championships in Russia in May.

Lynne van Rensburg from Gauteng Junior Chess, who are hosting the South African Ladies Chess Open, said: “It is great to have another country to compare our players to. Many players from Botswana have been trained by top coaches as can be seen from the results that they have achieved.

“They have produced a Women Grand Master, which South Africa is still striving to do. It is a good opportunity to develop relationships with our neighbouring countries.

Being a relatively small group of local players, the top girls have in many cases challenged each other several times. They should gain the experience of a variety of different styles against opponents that they are not used to challenging.

“It will also give the women’s national coach the opportunity to assess our own strength and to see how much work needs to be done before the Women’s Olympiad later this year,” said Van Rensburg.

A Botswana team spokesperson told gsport: “The main objective of sending the team to this tournament is that we have since put it into our Training Programme for the All Africa Games scheduled for Algeria, in July. We also want to measure our ladies performance as opposed to their South African counterparts.

“On a more general level woman chess is growing rapidly in Botswana as witnessed by the recent performance of the ladies in the National Chess Championships which Tshepiso Lopang won.”

The championships are open to women (and girls) of all ages, and prizes to be won will include R2000 for the winner, R1000 for 2nd place, and R500 for third place, as well as a book prize for the best player in each age group.

The event will consist of seven rounds, the first of which will be played on Thursday starting at 17:30pm after the official opening. 

Rounds 2 and 3 will be played on Friday; Rounds 4 and 5 on Saturday; and Rounds 6 and 7 on Sunday.All participants must be registered with CHESSA – entrants who are not can do so at the tournament, an hour before the start of the first round on Thursday.

All participants will be also required to play all seven rounds, and as the event will be a rated tournament, notations (the writing down of moves) will be necessary.Entry forms are available online at the Gauteng Junior Chess Association.

Ladies wishing to participate must submit entry forms before 12:00 on Tuesday 24th April, when entries close.