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Chess team off to India

Leemisa Thuseho

THE Lesotho chess team will leave the country this week for the 2022 Chess World Olympiad in India.

The Olympiad is scheduled for Chennai. It will run from 28 July to 10 August 2022.

Chess Federation of Lesotho (CFL) secretary general, Tlhoriso Morienyane, told this publication that the 10-member team is expected to jet off on Thursday.

Morienyane said the team was making its final preparations.

“The preparations are going well and the team is ready.”

A Chess International Federation (FIDE) International Master (IM), Sharad Tilak, of India is helping the team to fine tune its preparations, he said.

Morienyane said that most of the players who form the team participated in the recent King Letsie III Birthday Chess Tournament last weekend and they were in good form.

“I think our team is ready. They upped their preparations by participating in the King’s birthday tournament and most of them performed well. They dominated the tournament,” he said.

FIDE Candidate Master (CM), Tokelo Klaas and Woman Candidate Master (WCM), Maboloko Leboela will lead Lesotho team. They are the only players with FIDE titles.

Klaas is currently Lesotho’s best ranked player with 1812 points. He was awarded the CM title after an outstanding performance during the Chess Olympiad in Batumi Georgia in 2018. He is the second candidate master in Lesotho after veteran, Joang Molapo.

Leboela is ranked 39th with 1253 points. She got her title in 2016 during the Baku Azerbaijan Olympiad. Last year, she was also awarded a Chess Development Instructor title by FIDE.

Leboela has been representing Lesotho in all the Olympiads since the country’s first appearance in Norway in 2014. As WCM, she is Lesotho’s second woman with a chess title after Lieketseng Ngatane, who is a Woman FIDE Master (WFM).

Lesotho’s third-best player, Sechaba Khalema (1790) and ‘Malehloa Likhomo, ranked 28th with 1322 points, are also in the team.

The games will see chess starlet, Tšephe Lebajoa, making his Olympiad debut.

Lebajoa (17) is now ranked fourth in the country with 1712 points. He is also the 2019 Lesotho national champion.

Lebajoa was also the country’s best performer in the 2022 African Zone 4.5 Individual Chess Championship held in Lesotho in March. He finished eighth in the open section and was the only local player to excel in the competition.

Bahlakoana Ntšonyana, Bokang Motsamai, Nteboheleng Thetsane, Reitumetse Taioe, and Bonolo Ntsielo are also looking forward to making their maiden appearances in the Olympiad.

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