Dynamite comes in small packages, for sure this is a true assertion when one talks about the rising and shining of the Botswana’s youngest Woman FIDE Master Naledi Marape. She is only 12 years of age and is among Botswana’s best senior players and her trophy cabinet is decorated with lots of trophies at this tender age.
Her achievements speak volumes. I have put together some major tournaments which she won on her ascendancy to become Botswana’s best junior player. Born in a Christian family and the second child of Dr. Marape Marape, a former chess player who is also a member of the medical board for FIDE that deals with anti-cheating.
The girl is a very composed player of repute. She has shown her prowess by performing much better than some of the older players. In 2017 she took part in the African Schools Individuals chess championships which were hosted by Zimbabwe at Rainbow Towers Hotel. She bagged a gold medal in the under 13 girls’ category and this earned her a Woman FIDE Master Title.
In 2018 she took part in the Metropolitan National chess championships and she was a finalist at a tender age of 11 years while being the youngest player, which was infested with way more experienced older chess players of repute. She finished as a finalist in National Team top 8 among the whole country’s best ladies chess players. Another remarkable tournament was the Gaborone International Open ladies category which she won a silver medal in an interesting fashion ahead of some older lady players who have more time playing the game than her but her intuition and understanding of the game is of repute.
Another tournament which she bagged a silver medal was the Francistown Open chess tournament ladies category again which she proved why she is Botswana’s youngest WFM. She prevailed over the other players and her patience paid off on the board as she played some scintillating moves over the chequered board. Debswana Youth Finals 2018 silver medallist in the under 13 girls’ category among the young Batswana ladies.
Naledi was also nominated as the Junior Sports person of the year by Botswana National Sports Council which she won in 2018. This was a great achievement considering all her exploits which were full of interesting and rich reputable results of considerable ability from such a young lady. she has been the top ranked junior player in Botswana for the past four years. In December 2018 she took part in the Africa Youth playing in the open section and she won a bronze medal in the process. This was a good practice for her as she played with boys who some considered as better in terms of their thinking process though this one is a debatable issue. Her result should end that debate.
In a tournament which was hosted by Uganda which started on 29 December and ended on 5 January 2019, The Africa Junior Chess championships which is mainly for the under twenties had a flair of the young blood as she took the bull by its horns in this tournament. Starting off as the highest rated player on the FIDE ratings list on the initial list of players who took part with a rating of 1646. She was eventually tied second in the tourney which hopes were very alive for her. Woman International Master Anika Duplessis of South Africa was the eventual winner with 7.5 points out of the nine games of play. She was tied on second position with Woman Candidate Master Maria Nakanyike of Uganda who was the came second on buccholz and WFM Naledi came third and won a bronze medal in the process while the first and second placed aforementioned players won gold and silver respectively. WCM Nakanyike Maria of Uganda won in their duel game which they played together, both players finished half a point behind the tournament winner in their section. In the end the WFM earned herself a WIM norm and soon if she continues playing exceptionally well like what she is doing she will become Botswana’s youngest Woman International Master.
Academically Naledi is no slouch. In fact her academic excellence was rewarded when she skipped a grade ahead (grade 7) last year and is now doing form one this year. her career goal is to work on the brain and be a neurosurgeon. Her chess goal this year is to become a Woman International Master and in the year 2020 to be a Woman Grandmaster, who knows what else beyond that.
Her wish is to get a corporate sponsor to enable her to play in the Africa Youth, Africa Junior, Zone 4.3, Africa Individual, World Schools, World Youth and World Junior chess competitions this year to realise her WIM and WGM ambitions. She also needs to secure a Grandmaster coach. So far her family is bearing the brunt of all these costs but it can get very expensive.
The sky is the limit to the young player as she also has a lot of potential in her education and among the best learners who can become what she likes best under her strict adherence to the rule of thumb. One can say that WFM Naledi Marape has what it takes to be the best player in Southern Africa as well as the whole of Africa under the guidance of her coach as well as the father Dr. Marape who is also an ardent chess supporter and the one who supports development of chess at a tender age as evidenced by the age which the youngest Botswana WFM started playing chess.
On social media IM Chitumbo Mwali could not hide his admiration of the young player and commented on Facebook as well as other esteemed chess players and administrators all have very positive sentiments in their comments. The proud father Dr. Marape Marape could not hide his joy as he posted the positive development to the girl’s chess curriculum vitae.