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Molapo excels in African virtual chess tourney

CM Joang Molapo in action during a previous chess tournament

Feb. 16, 2021 3 min read

3 min read

ONE of Lesotho’s top chess players, Candidate Master Joang Molapo appeared on position five scoring 4.5 points in the seniors’ section of the Nine-Round African Online Individual Chess Championship that was held from February 2-15.

The competition, which had attracted players from 30 African countries was funded by the African Chess Confederation (ACC) to the tune of US$16 000 (M240 000).  The top three finalists in each category collected gold, silver and bronze medals, respectively.

They also received Certificates of Merit whilst all participants were given digitally printable certificates of participation.

This was the biggest virtually played chess tournament with the greatest funding on the African soil.

The first prize was worth US$ 1000, the second US$750 and the third US$500 in the senior’s section.

In the juniors’ section in both the open and girls categories, the first prize comprised an economy class air ticket sponsorship to the 2021 World Junior Chess Championships.

In the open section, Lesotho’s Libe Sofonea, Sechaba Khalema and Motlomelo Monaheng appeared in positions 39, 43 and 45 with 3.5, 2.5 and 2 points, respectively.

In the women section, their fellow teammates ’Malehloa Likhomo and Woman Candidate Master (MCM) Maboloko Leboela appeared on positions 25 and 26 respectively with 3.5 points each.

One of Lesotho’s female players Naleli MacPherson was disqualified in the sixth round after beating several top players in Africa who have higher FIDE rating than hers.

On the first day of the competition, McPherson walloped Woman International Master Esperanca Caxita of Angola who is 500 points above her in FIDE ratings. 

The following day, she beat Kudzanayi Charinda of Zimbabwe and was playing on Board Two, meaning she was seriously in contention for the top prizes and serious money. 

After beating Charinda in an absolutely brilliant recovery having lost her Queen for minimal compensation, she was disqualified from the tournament. 

CM Molapo said McPherson was disqualified for suddenly picking up form in the middle of her game and playing exceptionally well. 

“We were told that a player of her standard cannot be able to consistently execute such quality moves and beat stronger opponents. She was accused of getting assistance from a computer, despite the fact that she was on video for the duration of all the six rounds of her games. All the six hours of her play are captured on video but they argue that she kept looking to the side at times. They complain that she was taking her time and being too careful with her moves even when the moves were obvious. 

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“Macpherson, together with the Lesotho Chess Federation and myself been appealed the disqualification, but we were only promised a review of the case later,” Molapo said.

CFL publicist Selatela Khiba also confirmed that McPherson’s disqualification is still being addressed, adding that a final decision will be reached by the ACC at a later stage.

“Although the team did not perform that well, the players however gained essential experience and exposure as they played against some of the best chess players in Africa,” he said.

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