Report on tour of GM Kenny Solomon to Botswana

GM Kenny Solomon arrived at Gaborone airport in the late afternoon of Monday 26th June after his connecting flight from Lusaka was slightly delayed. He was still in high spirits however after his victory at the Zone 4.3 Championships and his week-long training sessions held in Lusaka.

His formal activities started on Tuesday with a simultaneous exhibition held at Maruapula Highschool. He was assisted at this session by FM Abhiram Sasitharan, one of the Botswana CMAT trainees, who held a training session for the participants after the exhibition. Kenny then visited a Mobilechess Preschool session to see how coaches conducted training of kids between the ages of 4 and 6. He was moved by this display and said it was a great initiative to have 20 Kindergarden age learners learning chess in a single classroom at the same time.

On Wednesday, Kenny visited the Batlokwa Primary School on the outskirts of Gaborone to teach 30 students. He was accompanied by another CMAT trainee, Thatayaone Seleka. Kenny took a second session later the same day with the help of Oabona Ditshameko at Tshiamo Primary. This school has another 30 chess players who have started playing chess due to the CMAT program in Botswana.

On Thursday, Kenny taught an advanced class consisting of both Primary and Highschool students at The Learning Centre (TLC) school in Gaborone. He was impressed by the questions the children asked and how well they played through the games he taught them. He was accompanied on this visit by Londani Tamuhla who assisted him with the class of 30 chess players.

On Friday 30th June, Kenny undertook a simultaneous exhibition and played a total of 14 games with the top junior achievers who were selected in January. It was a long day with many of the games lasting many hours. Ultimately, Kenny won all these games with fatigue causing a few youngsters to throw away their drawing chances in the last minutes of play.
After the exhibition was over, Kenny gave a short review and demonstrated some lessons that could be learnt from the games on the Demo board. Kenny noted that the simul was fantastic as he was delighted with the level of interaction from the participants!

Saturday saw the time for strength training arrive. Kenny’s sessions were focused on areas the trainees had not worked on before and were designed to build on the work of GM Pontus Carlsson and IM Daniel Jere. During the previous legs the trainees were taught openings, variations and ideas connected to the Middlegame. Kenny was impressed with the knowledge of the trainees and commented that it was clear that they had been doing their homework. His main session focused exclusively on endgames and the transition from the middle-game to the Endgame. Kenny demonstrated the most basic endgames and then provided a series of practical examples on how to convert complex position to the basic that has been covered.

Sunday was the final day of the tour and Kenny visited the FIDE Rated tournament that was taking place in Gaborone where he had a chance to great many of the local chess players. He received a wonderful reception and conducted an interview for the Botswana National TV. He also attended the prize-giving where he was very well received by the local community. He ended the day with trainee evaluations.

GM Kenny Solomon finally returned to his home in Venice, Italy on Monday morning where he is planning to conduct his preparation for the Chess World Cup in September!

His visit to Botswana is the final leg of the CMAT tour which has seen 18 weeks of training conducted across 6 different countries. KCF Africa would like to thank Kenny as well as all the other masters who have participated in the tour. We also wish to extend our sincere thanks to the Paul Allen Foundation without whose support the series would not have been possible.

The success of the CMAT tour series has been clear for all to see and we sincerely hope that we can see similar programs established in the future.