In the past years, Lesotho Chess Federation held national chess tournaments at Blue Mountain Inn hotel. These events have shown a success and the talent that the players have therefore it was time that they brought the international players to see how good they really are. It was then that Kasparov Chess Foundation Africa assisted the Lesotho Chess Federation with approval from the world chess federation and for the first time in history Lesotho hosted an international chess championship.
People who can play on an international tournament have to be FIDE rated or at least work towards being rated. In order to be rated, a player has to play with five FIDE rated players and at least draw with one of them. The obvious advantage of being rated is that you get to play with other international colleagues and the more you defeat rated players is the more points you acquire and therefore increasing your rates.
In order for this event to have taken place, there had to be people or organisations sponsoring it. Kasparov Chess Federation Africa (KCFA) sponsored and even gave away a cheque to a student who was unable to pay his fees. Mohale’sHoek born LitebohoMohatlane is a Bsc general student at NUL. There was also Metropolitan Lesotho that whole heartedly donated money to fund the mini chess program in Lesotho. LEFA took care of transporting the players from Maseru toT.Y and back on daily basis. Finally, Blue Mountain Inn was responsible for ensuring that the whole event went by smoothly.
The event was indeed a success because attendance was good. Only 40 players were expected in the open section and the number actually jumped to 64.KhotsoMotlomelo went away with a trophy, medal and M1500 cash as he is the open section champion. 2ndprize was taken by Lebona who got a medal and cash, while MoketeMaile took a 3rd position with two other players. Maboloko and Sefalane went away with 1st prizes in the ladies and under 18’s category, respectively.
TokeloKlaas went home with a medal and M1500 richer after receiving local 1st prize in the prestige section. MusatweSimutowe from Zambia got the 1st prize in this section, implying that he was the best chess player of the tournament. He collected a trophy, medal and M4000 cash. Prestige section was attended by 30 players of which one was from Zambia, two from Botswana, twelve from South Africa and fifteen from Lesotho. Only seven players from Lesotho were FIDE rated, implying that Lesotho still has to work hard in order to increase the number of rated players.
The good thing about playing internationally is that the players could weigh themselves; they got out of that room knowing their worth. They know the mistakes they had been doing all along and will learn from those mistakes. This will prepare them for another international tournament next year. When this happens our players would then start the games knowing what to expect as they would have learnt from their mistakes.