There could hardly have been a better year for her election as President of the African Chess Confederation (ACC) than the "Year of Women in Chess" proclaimed by FIDE. With a large majority, the delegates elected Thsepiso Lopang from Botswana as the new continental president. The 41-year-old mechatronics engineer is the first woman to hold this office.
At the WR Chess Masters, she will act as deputy chief arbiter to ensure that everything goes according to the rules in the competition between the ten super grandmasters. "I'm looking forward to a great event," says Lopang, "African Arbiter of the Year 2022," who has served as an arbiter during the Grand Swiss 2021 and the Chess Olympiad 2022, among other events.
Chess is my life
She describes herself tongue-in-cheek as an "all in one in chess," a woman who can handle any task around the royal game. In recent years, Lopang has made a name for herself as a player, official, organizer, trainer and arbiter. As a player she holds the WIM title. She is also an "International Arbiter", "FIDE Instructor" and on top of that she is now at the helm of chess on her continent.
"Chess is my life," says Lopang. Her involvement in chess has shaped her as a personality, she adds. "What I have achieved on and off the board has to do with chess. I'm surrounded by great friends and mentors there."
Her passion for the game and the sport goes far beyond a hobby. Chess, she says, offers people like her ample opportunities to bring professional skills such as leadership or management qualities to the table. Even away from the board, Lopang believes a passion for chess can shape a career.
She learned the game from her father when she was twelve years old. In her early chess years, Lopang represented her school in the open team. Later, she became a national player, winning bronze medals in 2003 and 2007 at the African Games. Lopang played internationally for her country until 2014, when she began her refereeing career.
"I take every opportunity to learn something new," Lopang explains. In 2018, such an opportunity presented itself to her. A first step into chess politics followed, the candidacy and election as ACC Vice President.