Lesotho: National Chess Champs This Weekend

Scenery Guest House in Maseru will be a hype of activity this weekend as the 2019 National Chess Championship finals are scheduled to take place on the 28 and 29 December.

The national finals area result of the championship qualifying tournaments of the Southern, Central and Northern regions held earlier this month.

Chess Federation of Lesotho (CFL) public relations officer Khiba Selatela told Lesotho Times this week that all is set for the championship to take place.

He said this year they expecting a total of 60 players from all over the country after they qualified from their respective regions.

Meanwhile, Lesotho is looking forward to host the 2020 Zone 4.3 Individual Chess Championship for the first time after being awarded the hosting rights by African Chess Confederation.

Selatela said CFL will use both occasions to choose chess players that will represent the country at the 2020 World Chess Olympiad set for Russia in August next year.

"Part of the national championship is to prepare for next year's major events, but the main reason is to determine the strongest players this year," he added.

Selatela also explained that the chess federation has managed to stage successful events aimed at growing the sport during the year.

"We worked very hard this year and out of our successful events we had our annual Blue Mountain Inn open chess championship out of which we finished on a joint 1st position in the Prestige Section. We also had a successful high school and junior events.

"On top of that for the first time we hosted an international event, being the 2019 Zone 4.5 Youth Under-16 chess championship," mentioned Selatela.

Meanwhile, the national defending champion Sechaba Khalema also told this paper that he was unable to attend the championship qualifiers at regional level due to college commitments at the National University of Lesotho (NUL). However, he said, will be given opportunity to defend the title.

"I couldn't play the qualifiers as the dates were clashing with my examinations but I will be able to play in the national championship. On Saturday I finished writing my examinations, therefore I think I have enough time to get myself prepared," he revealed.

Selatela confirmed that Khalema will be given exceptional entrance into the national championship.

"Khalema is a good player but he couldn't play at the qualifying tournament. He was writing examinations that he couldn't afford to miss but for the good of chess, it is only fair to let him play.

"In any case, he has to play since he is defending the title. It would be unjust if he loses the title by default or forfeiture," explained Selatela.

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