Lebajoa wins chess championship double



BEREA – Sensational Tšepe Lebajoa scooped two gold medals at the inaugural Rapid Chess Tournament and Blitz Chess Championship, which were both held at Mabote LEC Primary last Saturday. According to the tournament’s chief organiser, Monaheng Motlomelo, Lebajoa scored 6/7 and 8/9 to win gold in the two competitions.

Kemohile Koetle was the runner-up in the Rapid Chess Tournament after scoring 5.5/6, the same score margin as third-placed Lihloela Motlomelo. Koetle won silver with a higher tiebreak against Motlomelo, who had to settle for bronze.

Motlomelo said Lieketseng Makhalemele and Bonolo Ntsielo dominated the ladies section in the Rapid Chess Tournament.  “Makhalemele scooped the best lady prize, thanks to a superior tie-break that placed her ahead of Ntsielo after both finished with 3/7,” said Motlomelo in an interview with Public Eye on Tuesday.

Motlomelo said Thabang Mphane conquered the Blitz Chess Championship, with Mojalefa Nyane finishing in second place and Ntsielo winning another best lady prize, this time around with 5.5.

He said the Rapid Chess Tournament junior section was won by Kamohelo Ralile with 7/8 points.

“The event saw the return of several players after a long-term absence; among them was Lebona Mohale, who was once tipped to become one of the country’s top players.

He caused a stir after winning the first five games in the rapid chess section before he was stopped by Thabang Mphane and long-term absentee Koetle, who eventually finished second,” said Motlomelo. He further said: “Koetle’s second-place finish gives hope to other long-term absentees that they can still come back and fight well against the tactical young chess enthusiasts.”

Motlomelo said a total of 58 players competed in the tournaments. “We would like to thank all the participants for making the event a success,” he said. Motlomelo further said: “Special thanks go to the Monafils Institute for Chess Excellence, Makhuzo’s snack, The Gift of Chess, the Chess Federation of Lesotho (CFL), Moshe Mokone, and Masilo Mafube for sponsoring the event.

“Your support is truly appreciated; let us keep contributing to the development of chess in Lesotho.” Motlomelo said both the inaugural Rapid Chess Tournament and Blitz Chess Championship were played under the auspices of the CFL and would be held annually.

Lesotho ranks 172 out of 184 countries in the International Chess Federation rankings. The Mountain Kingdom is in front of Cape Verde and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which rank 173 and 174, respectively. Russia ranks number one, with the USA and China ranking number two and three, respectively.

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