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McPherson wins chess tournament


Seabata Mahao

Lesotho’s rising chess sensation, Naleli McPherson, clinched the coveted first prize in the intermediate category of the ladies section in the the Monafils Open Chess Championship.

Held at the Blue Mountain Inn on February 3, in collaboration with the Chess Federation of Lesotho, the event saw McPherson’s powerful display earning her a prestigious trophy, a gleaming gold medal, and a cash prize of M2 000.

With 127 chess enthusiasts contending across four divisions, the competition was fierce. In a display of skill and tenacity, players vied for top honors across various categories.

Teeke Karabo secured the first position in the Prestige section, and took home a cool M5,250 reward.

In the Open section, Caesar Motalingoane clinched the top spot to win a cash prize of M2,500.

The Women’s section was the one won by McPherson, who secured the coveted first position alongside a gold medal and M2,000 in prize money.

The tournament also welcomed distinguished guests, including Chess Master Thuso Mosutha from Botswana, and Ntando Zwakala from South Africa, adding to the event’s prestige.

In an exclusive interview with Newsday Sports following her win, McPherson expressed joy at her triumph following numerous instances of having to share the first position.

“It is a significant milestone for me, clinching the top prize independently after several shared victories. Competing in a tournament of this stature organized by one of Lesotho’s premier chess clubs is both an honour and a motivation,” she said.

McPherson said the tournament was a qualifying journey into the national team, which will represent Lesotho in the upcoming Chess Olympiads later this year.  

“There is progress in Lesotho as we now have people who actually love chess and are committed to improving it, even though they are not getting anything from the federations for their initiatives. The initiatives of chess clubs and sponsors showing up their support towards the sport is really motivating,” she added.

She also noted that the chess federation is trying their best to develop and improve the sport even though there is not enough sponsorship unlike other sports but they are always finding other ways to improve the sport.

“There is a growing interest of chess sport in Lesotho, so to the aspiring chess players, this does not end in school but chess is also part of their life.”

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