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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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Well-endowed Galaxy

Isaac Pheko

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FIRE POWER: Galaxy await Rollers

It is only the third week of the 2018/19 BTC Premiership and things are already heating up. Leading the charge is a marauding Jwaneng Galaxy who have already thrown a heavy-handed gauntlet at their rivals after recording a highly impressive 10 goals in just two games.

Galaxy’s intention has been made clear this season after leaving their first two opponents with bloody noses and tails tucked between their legs. The former Mascom Top 8 champions are in a relentless war path with the premier league title on their radar. This weekend, Galaxy host bitter rivals Township Rollers in Jwaneng in what is expected to be a football grudge match. Rollers have been a prickly thorn in Galaxy’s quest to claim the premiership silverware for the past two seasons.

This means the weekend fixture will be the most compelling of the new season. However, Galaxy seem to be packing more heat coming into the Saturday fixture having annihilated both Prisons XI (5-0) and Security Systems (5-0). Galaxy are currently occupying first position alongside second place Sharps Shooting Stars at six points apeice. The game against Popa this weekend will be a litmus test for Galaxy. If the Debswana backed side beats the reigning champions they will establish themselves as potential contenders for the 2018/19 title honours. On the flipside, a loss against Rollers will only mean the first two games were short of a bluff.

Pound for pound Mapalastina have the best squad in the domestic league but a new look Galaxy are well endowed in their own right. In an interview this week, Galaxy spokesperson Tankiso Morake said they played Rollers three times last season and all the games ended in a draw. “Remember we played Rollers in the Mascom Top 8 in Lobatse,” an up-beat Morake said. Morake further said they expected their new coach to receive his permits and start manning the bench when they play Rollers this weekend. “Our supporters have told us that they expected nothing less than league honours this season.” Morake attributes the positive result to a great pre-season.

“You will remember that there was a fake list in the media indicating that we have parted ways with most of our players. You can see that the likes of Ayanda Molefe and Isaac Paeye are still part of the team. There is a lot of competition in our team because we mostly have young players in the team including Lebogang Ditsile who played at Highlands Park in South Africa.” Furthermore, Morake conceded that Rollers are a strong team but argued that they will win the games from the technical bench. “You will remember that we started the last season back tracking but this time things are different.”

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Bridge team fails to impress

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The local team comprised of under 16, under 21 and under 26 categories. In an interview this week, BBF spokesperson Mbakiso Malilo did not mince his words when he described the team’s performance as terrible with all the three teams failing to qualify for the quarter finals.

“Making it to the quarter finals was our target following a good showing in the online championship by our junior team. I believe we can work on improving the playing standard for kids (under 16) as they still stand a chance to compete in the under 21 and under 26 categories for future championships,” he said.

However, Malilo explained that the local youth team gained a lot of experience as the played against more advanced rivals. Quizzed on challenges they faced with a predominantly youthful team, Malilo said: “the trip was too long and for most of the players this was their first experienced of travelling such a great distance. The jet lag ended up affecting the team’s performance as they showed signs of fatigue.” Malilo said their objective was to train young players and give them exposure to the game early on.

“We managed to network with bridge power houses like the Netherlands. Official from the European country expressed interest in training our kids through bridge clinics and enhancing the standard of play and bidding.” Malilo said they selected the junior team that travelled to China through local tournament that was held in Gaborone earlier this year. The tournament was attend by mostly tertiary school students and out of school youth in the junior and youngsters’ category. For the under 16 category we invited student from secondary schools.

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