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Chess youngsters salvage brilliant bronze in Kenya

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Despite a late change to the start time causing them to miss a crucial game, chess youngsters WCM Refilwe Gabatshwarwe, Arona Moshoboro and her sister Laone shrugged off the setback to clinch bronzes at the just ended Africa Schools Individual Chess Championships.

Held in Kenya, Nairobi from 13 – 19 December, the tournament, which included age groups from U/7 to U/17, saw 12 nations converge on East Africa to do battle on the board.

Going into the competition as the highest ranked U/17 girl in action, Gabatshwarwe and her teammates were dealt a cruel blow when the tournament schedule was re-adjusted.

A breakdown in communication meant Team BW players were unable to make their Round 6 encounters on time and they forfeited the point on offer.

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It was especially galling for team captain Gabatshwarwe, as her missed match was against Kenya’s, Ingado Mercy, who went on to claim gold with 7.5 points – Gabatshwarwe finished on 6.5!

The Moshoboro sisters also bounced back strongly, Arona grabbing third place with 6 points in the U/15 section while Laone accumulated 6.5 points in the girls U/13 to match her siblings third place finish.

The fourth and sole male member of the team, Darius Banda showed plenty of potential to secure 13th spot in the boys U/13 with 4.5 points.

Describing the mishap as bad luck, Botswana Chess Federation (BCF) Secretary General, Mokwaledi Tingwane explained the time change was announced at a technical meeting on the morning of the match but Botswana’s representative ‘failed to capture the adjustment’.

“It was just bad luck. But we took it on our chins and fought to the end,” he said.

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Dwelling on the positives, Tingwane declared, “For the young team to go on their own and bring medals is a very big achievement!”

Regardless of their superb performance, sadly the trio failed to qualify for the 2022 World Schools Individual Championships as only gold medalists make the cut.

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