Francistown School of Chess the emerging chess giants

Botswana’s Francistown is the home to one of Botswana’s chess hubs. It is a bonafide affiliate member of Botswana Chess Federation. The aim of the academy is to develop chess at a grassroots level, reaching out to the youth, giving them top quality training and exposing them to high profile tournaments.

To achieve this the academy organizes and runs youth tournaments, workshops for young children as well as training of chess coaches. This is a well-established school of chess which has produced some champions. The writer visited the place where the young players are produced at an infancy stage until they become champions. It was a very surprising visit which I made to this Botswana based school of chess. I met Jeremiah Dikgang the Co-Founder of this school of chess. The school is located near an affluent Mall which is near the city centre making it a very centrally located and accessible to the chess learners.

This is a house which they rent and chess business is conducted there. It has space for the beginners, intermediates and the fully-fledged players who have gained some ratings. Thapelo Molefe is also another Co-founder of this school of chess. This man is the founder of the Grivas Chess Academy who decided to merge together with Jeremiah Dikgang to form Francistown School of chess. This was a noble move as it has yielded some positive results in the chess playing juniors of Botswana. Jeremiah is a secondary school teacher who specializes in teaching Mathematics. This Mathematician merged with Thapelo who is a full-time chess coach.

The combination has yielded some very positive results. Jeremiah does the administrative duties mainly while Thapelo is one of the Coaches who make it happen while on the ground. When I got in Botswana, Thapelo was in Gaborone Botswana with the under 21 junior teams which won a gold medal there in Gaborone. The academy has a good reputation and because of its reputation in the chess world, in March 2018 they hosted Ms Beatrice Marinelo who is the International Chess Federation Vice President and former USA Chess Federation President. They also hosted Mr Robert Katende who premiered in the movie Queen of Katwe.

Over the years Francistown School of Chess has grown in leaps and bounds and has become a brand which is reputable both locally and internationally. They have also taken brands to higher levels. Since the inception of Francistown School of chess in 2017 milestone achievements have been achieved. Jeremiah once led the Gems Academy while Thapelo was in charge of the Grivas Academy. These then joined hands to come up with a formidable force in the name of Francistown School of Chess.

The players from the academy competed in different countries namely: Namibia, Eswathini Open in Eswathini, Zimbabwe, Bulawayo and Harare. The database for the academy currently stands at 40 learners and continues to grow after each and every tournament as the learners shine on their tours of duty.

Social responsibility

The academy has adopted some underprivileged and or disadvantaged children of the community. The academy also donated sixty chess sets to Primary schools in the North East to afford them the opportunity to play the game of chess. Some chess sets were also donated to Francistown Centre for the Deaf and Francistown SOS village.

The following is a list of the kids they adopted and their achievement

  1. Position one, Debswana National team selection under 11 boys

Bronze medallist 2018 Primary individual national finals

2018 Botswana International Youth tournament under 11 –Silver medal.


  1. Gold medallist 2018 junior individual national champion

2018 Debswana under 17 champion

Represented Botswana in the under 17 at the Africa Schools Chess Championships.

  1. 2018 Botswana International Youth Tournament under 15 Champion.

2017 junior boys team national champions.

2018 junior boys team national champions.

Achievements of the Academy students

Gofamodimo Tahla- 15 years

National Debswana under 14 Champion

Plumtree, Zimbabwe secondary girls champion.

Francistown Open under 16 girls Champion.

Botlhe Lekang – 14 years

2017 junior individual national champion

Position 4 Africa Youth Chess Championships (RSA)

Position 4 Africa Schools Individual Chess Championships, (Zambia)

2018 Debswana under 15 National Champion

Represented Botswana in the under 15 at Africa Schools Chess Championships.

Keabetswe Makwaaeba -14 years

Francistown Open under 16 boys’ champion

Musa Munyere- 11 years

Francistown Primary schools boys Champion

Bronze medalist 2017 national primary schools finals

Under 12 Champion is Botash Chess Open.

Bronze medalist- Africa Youth Chess Championships, Windhoek, Namibia 2019, December. He is also now a Candidate Master Elect after attaining the third position and winning himself a bronze medal in Windhoek, Namibia.

CM Tshepo Monare-17 years

Africa Youth under 16- Silver medalist, Zambia.

Awarded International Chess Federation title of Candidate Master.

CM Thabo Elias- 18 years

Africa Schools under 18 bronze medalist, Zambia

Ndachipiwa Kgomotso

Current Senior National team player.

2018 Namibia Open Ladies Champion.

Represented Botswana at World Amateur Chess Championships held in Italy in 2017.

Peo Phloe- 11 years

2018 Re Ba Bona Ha under 14 Champion.

2018 Debswana National under 11 bronze medalist.

Kingdom of Eswatini Open position 4.

Laura Molosiwa-10 years

2018 Re Ba Bona Ha under 11 Champion.

2018 under 12 Francistown International Open.

2018 Debswana National under 11 silver medalist.

Orifile Moatshe

2018 Re Ba Bona Ha under 8 Champion

2018 Debswana National under 7 Champion

Represented Botswana in the under 7 at African Schools Individuals Chess Championships

2018 Botswana international Youth under 7 Champion.

Sithemiso Ramakele- 14 years

Kingdom of Eswatini Open – Bronze medalist.

Another milestone achievement was in the zone 4.5 under 16 Youth Chess Championships which was held in Lesotho. Team Botswana came first winning all the five games which they played. The majority of the team players were from Francistown School of Chess. Team Botswana Comprised of:

George Method

Keabetswe Makwaeba

Oageng Chalashika

WCM Refilwe Gabatshwerwe

Ruth Otisitswe.

The team defeated Lesotho, Malawi and Eswatini. Lesotho had three teams to ensure that the teams were properly constituted for the tournament to go ahead hence the inclusion of the two additional teams by the hosts. The hosts came second and third respectively. When I spoke to Thapelo he said that he was looking forward to having ten more titled players in the next five years and it seems the target is within reach.

Their vision is to have a well-established school which they want to be built on a piece of land which is theirs. The stakeholders to also come on board. However, parents and the corporate sector have been doing well. Capital Bank of Botswana Bankrolled the Easter Open which had thousands of pula. This was because of the good track record which the organization had. First Capital Bank of Botswana also ensured that the players from the academy took part in tournaments around the region that is, in around Botswana.

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