Balkan Grand Prix- Pleasure in Cetinje

The idea of the Balkan Grand Prix was in the air from quite a long time. The primary negotiations took place during the EICC in Plovdiv in 2008. However the contract was signed on February this year, while the Topalov versus Kamsky match was in its progress. Five countries take part in the project- Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Romania and Bulgaria. The event is without any doubt profitable for the involved countries. Not only that we create connections between the Balkan countries, we also meet strong players from our neighbours with different stile, and from different chess school.
In each country one tournament has the status of a Grand Prix- Sarajevo in Bosnia that took place in May was the first one from the circuit, Cetinje (MNE) that have just finished was the second one. More to follow are the tournaments in Iasi (ROM), that finished recently, Sunny Beach (BUL) at the beginning of September and Obrenovac (SRB) in October. The top 15 qualified participants in every tournament receive points for the circuit. The cleverly made point is the tournament coefficient for the separate events. It depends on the price fund of the tournament- if it is 10 000 euro, the coefficient is 1 and the points won by the player are multiplied by it, if it is let’s say 9 500 (like in Cetinje) - then the Grand Prix points are multiplied by 0.95.
The five best players from the Grand Prix qualify for the final round robin event, and will be joined by five personally invited participants from each country. This event has minimal requirements-a price fund of 10 000 euro (1000 from each federation, and the other 5000 are charged by the host federation), and should be conducted at the end of the year, or at the beginning of 2010.
I have never been in Montenegro and went there quite curious. I knew that it is a small mountain country, with not many inhabitants (I discovered only here that their number is approximately 650 000). Since I very much enjoy the mountain, and I am very positive about the mountain people, too. My high expectations were pleasantly confirmed. Not only the area was wonderful, the organization was perfect, too.
The first people that I met were the arbiters Jasna Sakotic and Veselin Balshic, whom I already knew from the EICC in Plovdiv. Going a bit forward they did a great job, and there was not a single problem throughout the whole event. The accommodation was in the best hotel in town- Grand, we enjoyed single rooms, excellent food. The venue was spacey, well illuminated, with a special place for the audience on a respectable distance from the players. The seats in the audience were usually occupied at the end of the fourth hour, when the most dramatical events were in progress. The bar waiters appear after the first fifteen minutes, and the players could order refreshments during the game.
What I really liked in Montenegro was the dress code. According to the Montenegrin rules, you cannot appear for a game in slippers, vests and shorts. Respect for us all.
Cetinje is the old capital of Montenegro and was founded in the 15-th century. It is surrounded by the Black mountain from which the country takes its name. Currently, the population of the town is less than 20 000 people, and it is an important historical center for the locals. In the past, the town was under the constant attacks by the Turks and the Venetians, and the architecture is highly influenced by the latter.
Our hotel was situated in a green park, and some meters away from it started the main central street. At the beginning of it you can see a blacksmith, dancing under the sound of rock and roll music, while preparing his horseshoes, and other souvenirs. He is the local attraction. On the left of his souvenirs shop the old monasteries start-with the Court Church, many museums, and the Cetinje Monastery. In the latter you can see the arm of St John the Baptist, with his two finger missing. Brother Yaakov explained to us that there are altogether more than 70 monasteries in Montenegro. The religion is Orthodox Christianity.
On the right of the blacksmith the main road starts. It is relatively empty during the day, and overcrowded in the evening, when the decibels from the bars are on the max, and people enjoy cold drinks on the street, or prefer to walk on it.
I was quite lucky that my compatriot Momchil Nikolov did not let me get too lazy in the hotel. We made some nice walks in the mountains, from where we enjoyed these beautiful views.
These walks were profitable for us both. I started badly, but with an enormous bit of luck won my second game, being a piece down. Later, I did better, and managed to score 7/9. The same result was achieved by the local GM Nikola Djukic. The Bucholz criteria were applied, and there was a half point difference in it…
Solely third, achieving a second GM norm is Momchil Nikolov with 6.5 points. Probably he played the best chess, without blunders, and was never in danger of losing.
Best female is WGM Jozefina Paulet from Romania, best seniour player- GM Dusan Rajkovic from Serbia.
In conclusion, I would like to add that it was a pure pleasure for me to face such legendary players like Miso Cebalo and Bozidar Ivanovic, who are extreme fighters, and by the games of whom I used to study chess in my youth.
Official site of the Balkan Grand Prix- http://balkangrandprix.chessmix.com/

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