Meet Botswana’s Chess Future All Of Them Have That Brilliant Black Girl Magic!

Natalie Katlo Banda – (11 years old)

Who is Natalie Katlo Banda?

Natalie is an eleven year old Botswana chess player who has risen to international prominence within three years of learning to play chess. She and her brother started playing chess three years ago, that is in 2015.

In her first international appearance, she won the African Schools Individuals Chess Championships, held at the Rainbow Towers Hotel in Harare in 2017. At the beginning of this year she participated at the South African Junior Chess Championships and won a silver medal. She also represented Botswana at the African Youth Chess Championships, which were held in Kisimu, Kenya.

She has won numerous local chess tournaments. Her latest conquest being the Botswana International Junior Chess Championships, which she won with an impeccable 6.5/7, only drawing one game and producing a 1500+ performance in this tournament. FIDE bestowed her with a Woman Candidate Master Title after winning the African Individuals under 11 crown.

She also won the Debswana under 13 section gold medal and she currently has a FIDE rating of 1349.

Natalie with her brother, Darius (L) , who is also an excellent player himself.

At the beginning of this year, she embarked on a local community initiative to raise chess sets for her school and managed to raise twenty two (22) chess sets for her school and started a chess club for her school, Boswa Primary school.

In the recent junior chess tournament, which was hosted by Limited Minds Chess Academy, she won a gold medal in the tourney that held from the 30th of November until the 2nd of December at Botho University.

She intends to be a dentist as well as a Woman Grand Master (WGM). She and her brother, Darius, play for Motifs chess club. They won a bronze medal in the just ended Botswana chess league. At school, she is in an A class of the different student classes. Natalie made history by becoming the youngest chess player to be adopted as a Brand Ambassador by a Botswana local company called Boswa Energy, who are a 100% privately owned company.

They adopted her as brand ambassador because of her excellent academic achievements at school and her exploits in chess. They pledged to be supporting her with the attire that brand the company.

Woman FIDE Master Naledi Marape – (11 years old)

Naledi Marape is the youngest Woman FIDE Master in Botswana.

WFM Naledi Marape. During the recently held tournament at Botho University. Botswana International Junior Open tournament | Pic taken by Victor Chimbamu

Her background is very rich and very interesting and will be portrayed in detail in a later article.

She won the under 13 girls category in the African Schools Chess Individuals Championships, which held in Zimbabwe some time in August 2017. She has surpassed the senior ladies achievements at the same age, this is shown by her when she became the youngest chess lady to be part of the 2018 National Team Top 8 championship finalist. This is not an easy feat to achieve in Zimbabwe and this was achieved by the youngest player in this category.

As if that is not enough, she became the youngest Metropolitan National Championship finalist at just eleven years of age.

In the Gaborone chess Open of 2018, which featured some senior lady players, she came a credible second and scooped a silver medal in this prestigious international tournament.

In another international Open chess tournament, which was held in Francistown, WFM Naledi finished a remarkable second to WCM Kudzai Charinda of Zimbabwe, in a tournament which had a lot of fireworks. Another tournament worth mentioning is the Debswana Youth Finals of 2018, where she bagged a silver medal in the under 13 category. She was also nominated for the Botswana National Sports Council Awards as a Junior Sportsperson of the year nominee.

In a recent tournament which was hosted by limitless Minds Chess Academy under the auspices of Botswana Chess Federation she won a bronze medal in a tough tournament, which had three countries being represented in Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe. She lost to the winner of the section Woman Candidate Master Refilwe Gabatshwe who had 6 points out of 7 games of play, while second place went to Anashe Murinda of Zimbabwe who also had 5 points same as WFM Naledi Marape.

The sky is the limit for the young girl who is also academically gifted and is currently in form one. Her dream is to become the best lady chess player in Botswana and be counted among the chess players of repute in Africa. The parents are very supportive to the chess player and hope that her dream will be realized.
Woman FIDE Master Besa Masaiti (16 years old)

Youngest player to play for the senior ladies national team at the Olympiad 2016 under 15 African schools chess individuals’ championships gold medallist. She also participated in the 2017 World Schools Chess championships participant. She took part in the under 17 girls category of the Debswana 2018, the sponsored tournament where she won a gold medal.

This Woman FIDE Master took part in the 2018 National Team Top 8 championships and she finished in second place at the end of the championship to be part of the final team list for the Botswana ladies team that took part at the 2018 Batumi chess Olympiads.

This is the biggest chess showcase just like the soccer world cup or the Olympics. In this tournament, players meet all the highest rated players in the world and will have a lot to learn from highly rated countries like Russia, China, Egypt, United States of America to name just a few very competitive chess nations in the world.

She was also part of the 2018 Metropolitan National team finalists through her attacking prowess and ability to down some of the former chess greats in the ladies section.

Last but not least, she took part in the recently held Botswana Junior Open chess tournament, which was hosted by Limitless Minds Chess Academy, under the auspices of the Botswana Chess Federation.

In this tournament she scooped the gold medal in the under 21 girls category narrowly missing defeat from the hands of Linda Shaba of Zimbabwe in a pulsating game which she sacrificed her castle for a deadly knight which Linda had to threaten an unavoidable mate and in which Linda had to counter sacrifice her castle capturing a pawn. Alas that was not enough for a win and the game went in WFM Besa Msaiti’s favor. A resourceful player indeed.
Woman Candidate Master- Refilwe Gabatshwe (11 years old)

She is an upcoming player with a lot of potential. They usually have some fierce battles against her age mate Woman FIDE Master Naledi Marape. In their recent encounter at the Botswana Junior Chess International Open, which held at Botho University from the 30th of November to the 2nd of December, Refilwe won the pulsating game against the latter.This was a rook ending, which had many spectators watching and they were left surprised as some thought that it was going to be a draw, but alas that was not to be.

By winning against her closest rival, this meant that it was now going to be a walk in the park. She also managed a draw against Anashe Murinda of Zimbabwe ensuring that she finished with 6 points out of the seven games they played finishing the tournament undefeated.
This was a rook ending, which had many spectators watching and they were left surprised as some thought that it was going to be a draw, but alas that was not to be.

By winning against her closest rival, this meant that it was now going to be a walk in the park. She also managed a draw against Anashe Murinda of Zimbabwe ensuring that she finished with 6 points out of the seven games they played finishing the tournament undefeated.

She scooped a gold medal for her efforts ahead of Anashe Murinda and WFM Naledi Marape who were second and third respectively, separated by the buccholz tie breaker system.

One has to commend the effort of these young players and the Botswana Chess that has brought them thus far, and we look forward to seeing them again!

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