Keetmanshoop the new Chess haven

The winners: Jolly Nepando (Best Woman), Tapuwanashe Mtashau (Best Cadet), Uvanga Vatiraje (Best Junior), Frans Dennis (Runner-up), Otto Nakapunda (Winner) and Charles Eichab (Bronze medallist).

From a pony to a queen is the kind of promotion, the small southern town of Keetmanshoop enjoyed a fortnight ago when the town laid its claim as the latest chess haven.

Keetmanshoop the capital of the south is not known to be a chess town but following its maiden competition that saw 60 participants competing in the Primary School section and the Open section, each registering 30 players, its status was elevated to another level.
During the event the enthusiasm and energy displayed on the boards had the Namibia Chess Federation (NCF) leadership on the ninth cloud. Namibia Chess Federation’s Treasurer Nepando said, “We were expecting about 20 players but to get 3 times the number was just amazing. These guys just need a little bit of guidance to be where some of the leading regions are.”
The following day after the successful hosting of the tournament, the federation conducted a seminar which was attended by teachers from Keetmanshoop and surrounding areas. “All attendees walked away richer in knowledge and confidence that they could organise their own tournaments independently as well as train their students to become better players,” Nepando said. “What excites me most is that the teachers share the students’ enthusiasm; it can’t get better than that,” he added. Meanwhile not be outdone, Ongwediva’s Maroela Mall hosted the first-ever edition of the Oshana Open last weekend. Forty-nine chess minds took part with a notable size coming from Paresis Secondary School in Otjiwarongo. The 20-minute per player, 7-round Swiss tournament was full of surprises and the final standings could have looked much different had the various up-and-coming youngsters kept their cool when ahead against some of the country’s leading veterans.
Off the board, NCF Vice-President Eichab said the tournament had generated a buzz in the North. “Several stakeholders have contacted us as they are keen to be part of this great undertaking,” he said.
Eichab thanked the various sponsors including the owners of Maroela Mall as well as Spur Steak Ranches and last but not least the Namibia Sports Commission who made this operation possible.