From nowhere Thuso Mosutha has debouched into the limelight of Botswana’s chess landscape.
Like the famous American stealth bomber, nobody saw him coming until he had struck and conquered the continent. Now the 21-year old daredevil has announced himself to the local chess world.
Mention the word ‘chess’ in Botswana and the names that immediately spring to mind include those of Providence Oatlhotse, Thato Olebile, Ignatious Njobvu, Tshepiso Lopang, and Kgalalelo Botlhole among others. Only a few know about Mosutha, the Botho University student whose peers have nicknamed ‘Cream of Tahtah.’
He says of the nickname: “The name evolved from ‘Shaving Cream’ where my friends likened my unexpected victories to the cream used for shaving . They would say after winning, ‘This boy will shave you.’ Later the name changed from ‘Shaving Cream’ to ‘Cream of Tahtah’ (not Tartar). I don’t know why it became Tahtah, but I like the name.”
Mosutha has emerged from nowhere to win an international tournament in Mozambique that qualified him for the 2016 World Amateur Chess Championships to be held in Greece later this April.
It was a self-made achievement that saw him sponsor his participation at the 2015 Africa Amateur Chess Championship held in Matola last year, outside the custodianship of the Botswana Chess Federation (BCF). This is where he emerged champion after overcoming 15 other regional competitors who were invited for the title meant for African players with a published FIDE rating below 2000 as well as those with no FIDE title above Candidate Master (CM) or Woman Candidate Master (WCM).
When the 2015 African chess calendar of events was published in January, Mosutha took interest in the Mozambique event and decided he was going to save money for it. At the time, his ratings stood at 1895, which qualified him to try his luck against his rating peers on the continent. “It was not the first international tournament to which I sponsored myself.
I first tried my luck at the Zimbabwe International Open Chess Championship in 2014 where I did not perform well. I could not play international tournaments because the BCF sponsors players in the national team set up with top ratings, hence my decision to sponsor my international trips to help improve my strength,” Mosutha told Sun Sports.
Because of the lack of adequate funds, the BCF had no plans to send any player to the Mozambique tournament last year, but Mosutha had already made up his mind that he was going. “All I asked for from the chess federation was endorsement that I was the official representative for Botswana. I then went by road to Maputo where I also had to pay 50 euros (P830 at the time) as registration. It was a nine-round tournament where I drew in three matches and won the others. I was eventually ranked the best and won the ticket to go to Greece, as well as USD500 as prize money,” he said.
Mosutha credits his accelerated surge in chess to Botswana’s highest-rated Oatlhotse who began to coach him last year in June. “Before he coached me, I had struggled unknown on my own, but what gave me hope for better playing days was my great performance at the Blitz tournament that was played last year in Gaborone where I impressed. I then started working with Providence who has since been guiding and teaching me until I developed the confidence I have now that I can take on anybody in the country.”
Mosutha says he has always been driven by passion and the love for the game he started playing as a Form 1 student at Goldmine CJSS in Francistown. He had in the earlier year as a Standard 7 pupil watched his cousins at home play the game until he developed the interest that saw him rush to the front when Goldmine CJSS teachers invited new students interested in playing chess to come forward.
“I have never been doing well since, even after my school days when playing national tournaments. It was only last year that I began to feel that I was on to something big, especially after my interaction with Providence. I believe it now that passion, patience and perseverance do pay in everything. I am a product of these three,” he told Sun Sport.
Now he feels ready to take on the world, literally, as he heads to the Greece event in three months. “I am targeting a top three finish in Greece, which will qualify me further for another more superior tournament set for Europe in 2017. Given the hard work I am putting into my preparations, I don’t worry much about the tough competition that lies ahead. I went to Mozambique an unknown entity, but I won,” he said.
The impassioned Cream Of Tahtah also believes he has made such a stride that he is unfazed by the thought of competing for a national team place against Botswana’s big guns this year. Among the top players Mosutha has already beaten in his turbulent chess career is Botswana’s second best and former national champion Barileng Gaealafshwe who has a rating of 2213 behind Oatlhotse’s 2309.
Mosutha’s rating currently stands at 1925 after his Mozambique performance and aims to attain a title this year. “I am not stopping anywhere. I want to play in title games and go all the way to International Master (IM) or Fide Master (FM) at the worst,” he added.
Hailed by the BCF as Botswana’s most improved youth player and one of the most lethal blitz players in the country, Mosutha has qualified for the 2016 Senior National Team Qualifiers which will start in February 2016 where Botswana’s rated and active players will fight for a spot in the 2016 national team.
BCF’s Public Relations Director Keenese Katisenge told Sun Sports that they are in the process of securing Mosutha a flight ticket to Greece, adding that all other expenses will be covered by the organizers.
Makwengwe promises fire and fury
Gaborone United (GU)headcoach Philimon Makwengwe has sent a chilling message to his future opponents following a 0-1 loss to reigning BTC Premiership champions Township Rollers this past weekend.
A buoyant Makwengwe who is searching for at least two hungry strikers at GU declared that there will be nothing but misery in store for his future opponents. Following the closely contested Gaborone derby Makwengwe said:
“I have to improve in attack, I am not scoring goals, and I need to change my position on the log. I know the buzz was around the Gaborone Derby but that was never my concern. My team is currently in the red and I needed the points. I have to get out of the red and attacking my opponents is necessary”.
The unrelenting coach made it clear that Moyagoleele should not perform below their showing against Rollers last weekend. Makwengwe said the Money Machine will need to be “attack minded” in their next fixtures.
“What people should know is that Township Rollers have beaten me three times. They beat me twice back in 2012 during the Mascom Top 8. That was not the last time as they defeated me again at Prisons Airwick means this is now the fourth time.
The local tactician said losses to the Mma-Masire outfit should be a wake-up call for him. Nevertheless, Makwengwe said Rollers are the champions and one of the best teams not only in the country but the rest of the region.
“This is a team that gives a good brand of Botswana football. I am a champion myself, I am not a loser but I cannot beat Rollers alone.” Regarding the rest of the first round, Makwengwe said they will hit the ground running, I have no time to lament on negatives, I will not bemoan so many things.
My next opponents should stand in line and prepare to become victims.” The experienced coach said GU are a big brand and they should move away from where they are in the log standings. Losing 0-1 to a team like Rollers shows that we have to work on consistency.
The coach conceded the fact that he needs to make changes in his squad. I need about eight players including a fast winger on the left, I need a striker or two and these should be real strikers not people who play upfront.
Makwengwe said the current strikers at the team include a local who is a work in progress and a foreigner who is not giving enough to the team.“People want me to hide and I cannot, when you come into this country and you brush aside a local and even the labour law says you have to be better than them(locals), I bet in any profession.
If you want to play a striker for me, work harder.” The coach said he does not have an outright striker, which leaves a gap in the team. “A striker is somebody who pushes and is busy. If he doesn’t score himself, he has to use other players. It doesn’t matter if he is alone against four.”
Makwengwe said he needs two strikers to avoid changing the team too much. “In January, I am going into the market and I am going to buy. My next game is against Miscelleneous and they are coming down. I will have no mercy. Whoever comes I will have no mercy.”
Old rivals faceoff
Notwane Football Club (Sechaba) and Mochudi Centre Chiefs (Magosi), are to battle it out in a potentially massive encounter as both clubs are coming from draws in their previous matches against Prisons IX and Black Forest respectively.
The clash is scheduled to take place at 4pm this Saturday at Molepolole Sports Complex.Sechaba, as Notwane is affectionately known were relegated back in 2015 while Magosi has been going through a financial crisis that hit the club recently.
Having played 9 games a piece, Notwane FC, currently on the 9th position in the BTC Premiership league log standings have won two, drew four and lost three games whereas Centre Chiefs who are occupying the 12th spot have won one, drew five and lost three games.
In a brief interview with Sun Sport this week, Notwane FC Public Relations Officer (PRO) Mogomotsi ‘Ace’ Orapeleng said, “We are going all out to win this fixture, taking nothing away from Centre Chiefs, we are not going to read much into what they have been going through lately hence our approach to the match will be of ‘great’ respect.
This past weekend we dropped a massive two points which could have made a difference against Prisons IX thus making us more desperate to collect three (3) points in this coming clash with Centre Chiefs,” he said.
Questioned about the anxiety brought by this particular contest he said: “Notwane FC and Mochudi Centre Chiefs are big brands of Botswana football, we are aware of the fact that the personnel have changed; new players, management and even sponsors but the ultimate truth is that these two have great following and most people are anxious to see how the events will turn out on the weekend,” said Orapeleng.
For his part, Mochudi Centre Chiefs Vice-Chairman, Clifford Mogomotsi confirmed their aim is to try and improve their position in the league log standings, “In every match we play, our approach is to always expand our position on the log, regardless of which team we play against. Notwane FC is a fantastic team but we are going to fight until the end to win the match,” said Mogomotsi.
Mogomotsi further pointed out that playing against Notwane FC has always been exulting, “Notwane FC has always given us entertaining football as we almost play a similar style of play,” said the Vice-Chairman.
On the possibility of losing points through the impending verdict after failure to honour their game against Miscellaneous a fortnight ago: “Our date with Botswana Premier League (BPL) Disciplinary Committee (DC) has been set, and we are awaiting that,” he explained.
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