THE country’s sport star of the year, Tokelo Klaas, says he is now working to improve his international rankings on the World Chess Federations (FIDE).
Klaas, who walked away with the most prestigious sports award in the country at the Lesotho Annual Sports Awards (LASA) early this month, said he plans to attend as many tournaments as he can this year in order to improve his rankings. He said this will also help him prepare for the 4.3 Chess Individuals Championship, which is set to be staged in Maseru.
He is currently the highest ranked local chess player in FIDE, ranking 1361 in Africa while he ranks 50912 worldwide.
The National University of Lesotho (NUL) student said he is eyeing four tournaments this year in Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa.
“Next February, Lesotho will be hosting the 4.3 Chess Individuals Championship in Maseru and the tournament will attract top chess athletes from 10 African countries,” Klaas said.
“In preparation for the championship, I am planning to attend two tournaments in Botswana and one each in South Africa and Zimbabwe. The tournaments will help me increase my chess rating and also improve my Candidate Master (CM) title.”
He said the tournament will be used to qualify for the world cup which will be held in Russia next year.
“It is a very important tournament, where the winner will represent Africa in the world cup scheduled for Russia. I think it would be an embarrassment if Lesotho athletes fail to rise to the occasion especially while enjoying a home advantage, so it’s better to start preparing now,” he said.
However, Klaas said the biggest challenge remains the lack of funding as he will have to cater for all the trips to the forthcoming foreign tournaments.
“The tournaments will start in July and run up to September but unfortunately, I might not be able to attend them all due to the lack of sponsorship. I am yet to approach the Chess Federation of Lesotho (CFL) to hear if they will be able to help but from my experience, I know they mostly concentrate on national teams,” Klass said.