Kosovo League

This was my second participation at the Kosovo Super League that took place between 6-11 May. It is very modern nowadays to speak about the world financial crisis. Due to this, or another reason (more local players), the Kosovo federation decided to reduce the numbers of the foreigners to one. Six out of the eight participating teams used an outside reinforcement, and logically, the other two went down from the League at the end. The foreign GMs that participated included also Vladimir Georgiev, Trajko Nedev (both FYROM), Jozsef Pinter (Hungary), Petar Genov (Bulgaria), and IM Ilir Seitaj (ALB). Glasshouse bar near Victoria hotel hosted the event.
The time limit was classical- two hours for fourty moves and additional one hour till the end of the game. Team points were counted again as the last year. In case that two teams were equal on that criterion the total number of board points was taken into an account and finally the tiebreak system was three blitz matches-when the winner is the team that scores two wins. The first two teams qualify for the European Club Club. This is a very important tournament for the local players-a chance to meet the greatest players of our time, and to practice their game.
The favourites were the teams of Istogu (the reigning chamion), Llamkosi (who finished second the last year), as well as Prishtina (with very strong local players), and my team RWE Power- Kosovo. The tournament battle was rich of full-blooded games, and twists, suspense till the very end of each game. In many cases the evaluation of the positions was rapidly changing, and we could never consider the job done till the score sheets are not signed. From the eight starting teams one withdrew after the first two rounds due to financial reasons.
My team started very well, and after three wins and a draw was leading the table. Especially well in these rounds played our captain Armend Budima (who by the way was a candidate for a president of the Kosovo federation and lost within a tiny margin), the UK situated Astrid Zymberi, and the father of five children Gani Hamiti. The general manager of RWE and our sponsor John Jowett was a regular visitor of our matches. However, an unfortunate loss against the Theranda team (not a bad team actually, but till that moment they had only losses in all their matches) in the fifth round postponed the titled destiny for the final round. In it we met the Prishtina team that had only one loss so far (from the first round). A win with more than 4.5 would give us the title, a draw would be fine for the team of Llamkos, and a win for Prishtina will secure them the overall win. It was all fine for them however, and they started fiercely with 3-0. Soon after they scored half more point, and despite our two final efforts won the match with 3.5-2.5 and claimed the title. Congratulations!
Some of the problems in Kosovo remain. The country is still not officially recognized, and the tournaments are not counted for rating. Thus Kosovo players cannot represent their country in international tournaments.
There is only one arbiter that can judge the tournaments-the second man in the federation- Burhan Musini. He now tries to organize a seminar for arbiters, and to give part of his duties to other people. “I cannot play myself in any event, since I have to be the arbiter there”, complains Burhan.
He also hopes that they can soon organize the first international tournament in Kosovo.
In general, many of the things changed for good. The chessmen became better, the audience started to respect the players’ efforts more. However, due to the lack of tournament practice and low knowledge of the chess rules some funny situations kept on appearing:
In one of the games between the local players one of them lost on time on move 39. However, he did not want to resign for a while. He claimed that at some moment before he forgot to press the button of his clock, and wanted his time back…
In another local game the second player also seemingly could not perform the needed moves, but then the clock added him additional hour. His opponent expected that the clock should show only zeroes, and did not know what to do. He kept on playing and the game ended a draw. He claimed zeitnot after the game was finished, and the score sheets signed.
GM Petar Genov had a main role in the last case. His opponent from the final round took his queen, wondered for a while where to put it, and after sawing that all the three available squares are bad just put it back. Then he started to touch the other pieces-the pawns, king, etc. without using the word “jadoube”, and finally made a move with his king. Genov claimed that he has to move the queen, to which the opponent innocently answered that he is not sure which piece he has touched first. “I might have touched the queen, but my mind did not register that…” Since the game did not matter anymore (the match was already decided) the players from Genov’s team were persuading him to continue, while the players from his opponent’s team were persuading their player to resign. “I do not know how is it, you are the Grandmaster, you tell me which move to play”, continued the opponent. “I cannot tell you your move, but according to the rules, you must move the queen”. Finally the local player resigned the game.

Official site with selected games- www.shahu-ks.com

Final Ranking Cross table

1. PRISHTINA- 10 (21.5)
2. LLAMKOSI- 9 (22)
4. MINATORI- 6 (16.5)
5. THERANDA- 5 (16.5)
6. ISTOGU- 4 (16.5)
7. TREPÇA -1 (11.5)

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