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Home / Personality of the week - Lishen Mentile: Improving lives one checkmate at a time

Personality of the week - Lishen Mentile: Improving lives one checkmate at a time

2021-09-16  Staff Reporter

Personality of the week - Lishen Mentile: Improving lives one checkmate at a time
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Date of Birth: 27 November 1996 

Place of Birth: Windhoek

Nickname: I really don’t have any

Current Club: Fianchetto Chess Club

Previous Club: Zandell Chess Academy

What are some of your career achievements? 2010 Blitz Chess Champion Under 14 (Best Female, 2010 Blitz Chess Champion Under 14 (2nd Place), 2011 Blitz chess Champion Under 16 (3rd Place), 2012 Blitz Chess Champion Under 16 (Best Female and Best overall price), 2013 Blitz chess champion Under 10 (2nd Place), 2007 Namibia National Junior Chess Champion Under 12 (1st place), 2011 Kehat Beukus Memorial Chess Tournament (Best Female), 2015 Namibian Junior Chess Champion (2nd Place), 2017 Woman's Chess Challenge (Second place), 2018 Namibia Open Woman (2nd Place), 2018 Independence Blitz Chess Champion (Best Female), four time National Female Chess Champion in the years 2017, 2019, 2020 and 2021, Chess Representative for the National team at the World Chess Olympiad in 2012 (Turkey, Istanbul), 2016 (Azerbaijan, Baku), and 2018 (Georgia, Batumi) National Representative in the World Junior Chess Championships in Slovenia.


Which match would you say was your most memorable? It was during the 2012 World Chess Olympiad against the Woman Fide Masters (WFM) from Malta.


What is the highest accolade you have achieved in chess? Obtaining my Woman Candidate Master (WCM) title in the 2018 World Chess Olympiad in Baku, Azerbaijan.


Which Namibian player do you most enjoy playing with? Jolly-Joice Nepando, she’s amazing. 


Who are some of your local or international favourite chess players? It is Norwegian chess grandmaster Magnus Clarsen.


Besides chess, what would you say is your other passion or obsession? I love painting.


If not chess, which other sport career would you have chosen? It would have been Golf.


What would you say are some of your biggest career disappointments? I think missing out on my first (Woman Candidate Master) title by 1/2 point in the World Chess Olympiad in 2012 would probably be my biggest career disappointment.  


Who has been the biggest influence on your career? To be quite honest, since I started playing chess, the biggest influence on my career has always been myself. I always believed I could become the best at it and that in itself kept me going until I reached where I am right now.


Would you say the sport of chess is as big as it should be in Namibia? No, not at the present moment. It is not as highly recognised and exposed as the other sport codes in Namibia. But having recently taken a step into coaching, I strongly do believe and hope that we will help make it the next big thing in the near future.


From a development standpoint, what do you think should be done for local chess to reach its peak? We need to introduce chess in many schools and make it a priority sport like all others such as football, rugby, netball; etc. Many people in our country still don't see chess as a ‘sport’ because they don't see where the competitiveness comes in and they don't have enough knowledge about chess. It is also quite difficult to get local people to invest in the sport. So more needs to be done in those areas, especially promoting it at schools and community levels.


Your career remains on a solid rise and you are one of the prominent figures in local chess; tell us a bit about your journey? My journey started from a very young age in our neighbourhood in Wanaheda where I grew up. I always used to watch the older guys playing chess on the street surface just right in front of our house, as time went on, I got fascinated by how they played and the sequence of moves they would use for each piece. I immediately gained interest and told my parents about it. In 2002, I joined my first chess club at Eros Primary School, which is where I attended school at the time. I have since been competitively playing chess, going on to join the Zandell Chess Academy in 2005, where I then expanded my chess knowledge and got more exposure playing at various big tournaments. I got much better over the years and started winning at tournaments and got selected to represent my country.


How has chess changed your life as a player and on a personal level? Chess has changed my life in so many ways. It has taught me to view life differently, it has taught me to be more disciplined, it has taught me to appreciate and wisely use every resource and opportunity handed to me in life. It has also taught me to create opportunities for myself, it has taught me to be more of a strategical and analytical thinker. Chess in itself is life to me.


You started off the FIDE Online Chess Olympiad on a high note, only to be knocked out in the third round (Division 3). What do you think went wrong? Personally, the team spirit was high throughout, and as a team, we really fought and did our best. I think the only problem is that we were placed in a pool of countries where chess skills are much higher and greater than ours. They had better exposure and experience compared to us because most of those players are from countries where chess is studied and is a big profession where people earn good money. To us here in Namibia, most people have other professions outside of chess, which doesn't allow them to put all focus and time into bettering their play. 


What are you most grateful for in your life at the moment? I'm most grateful for my family and being able to still be here on earth. With the unexpected wave of Covid-19 that hit us since last year, anything could've happened within that time, but today I say thank you to God for just living to see another day.


Your ambitions for this year and beyond? My ambitions for 2021 and beyond is to personally improve my chess skills, and as a coach, I want to grow the sport and make sure that it reaches the school system as a sport of choice for the young generation.


What do you do to relax after a long day? I listen to a lot of music or watch series, otherwise, I will be painting.


What is the one thing that you suck at? Dancing


What is your personal favourite motivational quote? "Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself." - George Bernard Shaw

2021-09-16  Staff Reporter

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