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McPherson speaks on cheating allegations

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Leemisa Thuseho

AFTER being disqualified from the just ended 2021 African Online Chess Championship for alleged cheating, Naleli McPherson says she is keeping her head high and working even harder than before.

McPherson was disqualified from the tournament after being flagged by the organisers for seemingly using some form of assistance during one or more of her games despite being continuously on video during the games.

By the time she was disqualified, she was second after six rounds and was on track to finishing in a top position although she was yet to play three more rounds.

Tournament coordinator Benard Wanjala said the decision was made after careful considerations that include the Tornelo platform analysis, Kenneth Regan screening, behavioural observation and human assessment in specific games.

McPherson told the Sunday Express on Friday that the experience was demoralising because there are several chess players who are looking up to her.

“This is demoralising because they are people out there who look up to me,” McPherson said.

“I know I didn’t do anything wrong and the people around me trust and believe in me. So, I have learnt that every challenge that I face means that I am inching towards a bigger level.

“I played really well and I am more than proud of myself. This incident won’t bring me down. Instead, it will motivate me to push myself even more and show the world what we can do.”

She also said she was unsure she if she would be ready to play another tournament soon.

“I am not sure if I will be ready to play any online tournament soon. I want to take a break for some time and focus on my online chess academy but many are against the idea.

“The incident has affected me emotionally, so I wanted to give myself some time to heal and get more practice,” she added.

She said she was happy with the support that she has received the chess fraternity.

McPherson said her experience should be a lesson to other players and other athletes in other disciplines that sometimes people face challenges hence they must always be ready.

“This shows that we must be ready for anything. There is no road without hiccups and from all those challenges, there is a lesson one can learn and instead of bringing you down, the challenges must build you,” McPherson said.

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