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Unknown local chess star for Greece

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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.

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Heelang, hands off journalists!

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In our last edition, we touched on athletes who need to be media savvy, however it appears the vaccine needs to be administered on sports leaders too.

There is a highly contagious disease spreading rapidly in the sports space with those in power having a wrong perception of owning the media or somehow entitled to publicity. Such people want to literally dictate what should be broadcast or published, fa ba bata go go nyantshetsa o utwa gotwe, write and send back so I crosscheck.

That equals disrespecting and undermining a journalist to the lowest level; it is more like wanting to teach a scribe how to do their work. If you are in a wrong profession at your respected workplace, please kindly send in your Curriculum Vitae (CV) to newsrooms, you might land that Editor- In Chief position. Then there are those who will make scribes feel like they signed a death warrant, why did you not cover my event? You are not reliable; you are only good at chasing certain individuals. Heelang! Stop crucifying journalists, they do not owe anyone anything and realistically speaking cannot cover everything to please all.

Oops and there are those who never want anything bad or controversial associated with their name. They start off as bosom buddies, discussing ‘non offensive’ issues and once in a while a compliment thrown their way. Once the dark days come knocking and gears are changed, suddenly the same journalist ke moloi wa meno a 4 mo ganong. Really now? So, all along the witch was not visible and now that the tables have turned and it hurts like never before, things have become clearer? Perhaps, you forget what the real job of a scribe is? You cannot befriend a journalist my friends, if you do, then something is seriously wrong! Expect the good together with the bitter taste of unwanted publicity.

There is also a time when the scribes are labelled bomma dijo le bo Rradijo. To an extent that you even emphasize that there will be food at your events, so the more the merrier! I agree, generally only a few can say NO to free food but it becomes a bit untidy when you put a food price tag to your events. Ga re gane, there are some colleagues with a huge appetite and they are not even shy about it but isn’t it that there are people like that all over.

Le re tshabisa go ja, please! Another trend, initially good but now disturbing is that of organisations spoiling some rotten journalists by travelling with them to certain places, all expenses fully paid for. This includes food, accommodation and transportation. Things then become cozy when a drink or two is thrown in, nice but at what expense? Is it out of good will or tantamount to bribery?

Some associations tend to confuse it all with rubbing off bad publicity. Kgantele e nna, ao laitaka, o lebala o robetse ko Cresta Hotel ke go reketse biri? A guilty conscience then kicks in and stories are shelved. It is only a few that manage to look beyond the fancy trips and royal treatment and uphold journalism principles. Better you spoil journalists but without undue expectations, accept both the bad and the good coming your way.

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Abidal punches ticket to TS Galaxy

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[PHOTO:www.facebook.com/TownshipRollersFC]

Township Rollers’s defensive Midfielder Gape ‘Abidal’ Mohutsiwa has confirmed that he will be plying his trade at South African based TS Galaxy next season.

This follows rife speculation that Mohutsiwa’s deal with Galaxy might have somehow fallen off. The strong suspicions came about last week when the national first division side communicated the team’s new signings. Local based players of Mosha Gaolaolwe, Thero Setsile and Ezekiel Morake were mentioned in the list and Mohutsiwa’s name was suspiciously omitted. As if that was not enough, the team went on to show off pictures of the trio signing contracts with the team management but still no mention of Mohutsiwa.

Speaking to Sun Sport this week, Mohutsiwa explained that he had seen the communication but made nothing from it. “I am still going because even my work permit is ready, all is well and there is no need to panic,” he said.

The 22-year-old pointed out that TS Galaxy had informed that they will communicate dates to join them in South Africa. He is expecting their call anytime after completing the season this coming weekend.

“I also saw those pictures with the management and its is not like they signed the contracts last week. I suspect that they were just appreciating the performance made by my fellow colleagues Morake and Setsile during the COSAFA championships staged in Durban South Africa,” said Mohutsiwa.

The young Abidal as he is well known is convinced that the TS Galaxy management was just ‘boasting’ about the kind of talent they are bringing to their team. “I did not perform to the best of my ability during COSAFA championships but I cannot say they were neglecting me, I am actually fine with it,” he said.

Mohutsiwa added that as young as he is, he believes that he has a lot to offer and the intention is not to return home in a year or so. He has been signed for three years and the expectation is that he completes his term and perhaps find other lucrative deals out there.

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