Lesotho: Khalema Wins Year Opener Tournament

14 September 2021

Lesotho's second-best chess player, Sechaba Khalema, was last weekend crowned the overall winner of the Chess Federation of Lesotho (CFL) Basotho Year Opener Chess tournament.

The event was held at Scenery Guest House on Saturday and Sunday.

Initially, it had been scheduled for 21 and 22 August but it was postponed to make way for the 2021 Online Olympiad which was held from 24 to 31 August. Lesotho players were therefore given time to concentrate on the Olympiad.

Khalema was crowned champion last weekend after collecting five points from six rounds while veteran, Joang Molapo, settled for second position with 4.5 points.

Bokang Motsamai finished third tied with Lesotho- based Zimbabwean, Tatenda Pondo and Tšephe Lebajoa with four points each.

Ntsielo Bonolo and Relebohile Tlaitlai were named the tournament's best ladies.

In an interview with Lesotho Times after the tournament, Khalema said while only a few players turned up, the young players gave him a run for his money.

"It wasn't an easy tournament considering that our juniors are performing really well against senior players," Khalema said.

"The juniors have been dominating different tournaments lately. Their only challenge is inconsistency."

This was Khalema's second win this year after begging the Winter Open Tournament in June.

However, he feels he is yet to reach his best form.

Chess Federation of Lesotho (CFL) deputy secretary general, Khiba Selatela, bemoaned the poor turnout of players.

"We only had 25 players which I think is because of the financial challenges that many are facing due to the negative economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. It therefore is not easy to attend every tournament," Selatela said.

The CFL is now turning its attention to the 2021 National Championship regional qualifying tournaments although Selatela said they are yet to confirm the dates.

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