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.
Selibe Phikwe bowls club faces closure
Selibe-Phikwe Bowls Club faces a possible collapse, Sun Sports has learnt. This follows the closure of the BCL mine back in 2016, which has seen the club struggle without the supply of electricity and water.
Speaking to this publication this week, the chairperson of Phikwe club Oabona Motladiile said that things have been stagnant since the mine closed doors. “Nothing is happening here, there is no action at all because when the mine closed, it meant there was no one to pay for the water and electricity bills,” Motladiile said.
Motlaadile explained that their grounds are situated at Area 2, a place that the mine paid all bills for, however it has since proved very hard for them to maintain the green that needs constant watering. He said they do not have any alternative facilities to use and have since informed the Phikwe council about their difficulties but still solutions have not been found.
The Phikwe Chairman at the time of going to press said he was not sure of the exact figures they needed on a monthly basis but around 20 000 litres of water and electricity not exceeding P 1 000. He lamented that the Phikwe club is one of the oldest clubs locally and at one point had about 30 members. However, numbers have been dropping because there is no action.
“We are a very competitive club of men and women who make it into the national team,” he said. John Gaborutwe who is the BBA Vice President said that the possible closure of Phikwe Bowls Club was one of the topical issues to be discussed during the BBA Annual General Meeting (AGM) this coming weekend. The affiliates will be expected to vote for a new Vice President, Treasurer and Director of Bowls as the term for the current office bearers expires.
The AGM will be followed by the start of the Rose Bowl tournament. The tournament is the 1st of the 5-series major tournaments for the 2019 season. The remaining tournaments will be held in Francistown, Orapa, Jwaneng and Phikwe respectively. Jwaneng club is the defending champions.
BFA FIRES BRIGHT
Allegations coming out of the Botswana Football Association (BFA) are that national football team head coach Major David Bright has been fired as of Tuesday this week. The illustrious veteran tactician took over from Englishman Peter James Butler more than a year ago.
At the helm of the Zebras, Bright struggled to bring home positive results and find winning combinations. Having failed to lead Zebras past the qualifying stages of the 2019 Afcon competition was the first sign of trouble for the veteran coach at Lekidi. Furthermore the experienced tactician was expected to improve Botswana’s position in the FIFA world rankings. The Zebras are currently in the lowly 145th position.
According to sources close to the matter, Bright was handed a termination letter and challenged to show cause why he should not be relieved of his duties at Lekidi. As one of the most decorated coaches in both Botswana and CAF region, Bright has coached numerous teams including South Africa’s Bay United, Gaborone United and Morupule Wonders.
Reached for comment on the matter the BFA president Maclean Letshwiti insisted that the former army man is still in charge of the senior national team. For his part Bright said he could not comment on the matter and referred Sun Sport to the BFA.
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