How “Vodovod” promoted into first Serbian division and what happens in Serbia
In Vrnjacka Banja took place the 1-st League of Central Serbia between 18-26 Septembers. Practically, this is one of the second divisions of the country, but do not be mislead by that fact. Among the 12 participating teams competed eight GMs, many IMs and FMs, and even at the back fifth and sixth boards players with ratings 2300-2400 could be met. The best team qualified for the Highest Serbian Division, while the last one was relegated from the group.
Twelve teams play each other in a round-robin tournament, each teams contains six boards. The system is match points. Just like in the football, the winner is awarded with 3 points, draw is equal to a point, while losing means zero.
It appeared that two teams competed for the promotion after their powerful starts. Both the elo favourites from “Vodovod”- Kragujevac and “Jelica”-Goracici were leading after seven rounds with only one drawn match each. The former team was impressively effective, winning all its matches by a minimal margin 3.5-2.5. However, their clash in round eight turned into a total triumph for “Vodovod”. Relatively easily they scored four wins, and managed to save the two remaining bad positions to close the match in impressive score- 5-1. After that the discouraged team of “Jelica” switched to a “silver programme”, in which they succeeded easily. Third became the team of “Sloboda”- Uzice. For the champions competed the GMs Dragisa Blagojevic from Montenegro (as a foreigner), Miroslav Tosic, Nenad Ristic (the selector of the national women team), IM Slobo Vratonjic, FM Boroljub Zlatanovic, Dragoljub Lazic and Slavisa Milosevic.
One of the most colourful participants is IM Radovan Govedarica. He is always everywhere, knows all the positions, and immediately after someone ends, he appears to give a competent advice of how he had to play. Although he did not do very well in the tournament (he even lost one game due to a phone ring forfeit), he was showing his potential in blitz games, obviously enjoying every second of chess.
Chess is a magical word in Serbia. Whenever I pass the boarder, I always say, that I am a chess player. This saves me a lot of time, and unnecessary baggage search, since all the chess players are highly respected in Serbia. Sometimes I start a chat with the customers on the past glorious times with Gliga (Gligorich) and Ljuba (Ljuboevic) being the main heroes. A few years ago, due to the great restriction that the Serbians had chess was suffering, since almost all the Serbians had to stay at home. This was the period when they were permitted to play in all the Leagues, and this decision kept their fighting spirit. Lately, our sport is coming back to respect. Those of the players who achieved good results, and won medals from European Competitions and Olympiads, as well as their selectors receive support from the government-salaries that are quite adequate to the economical situation, and that give them the chance to live well.
Vrnjacka Banja is the most famous Serbian spa resort. “Banja” is Serbian means bath, but could also mean a spring. There are altogether seven springs of mineral water in the town, warm in their majority. Their healing effect is known from the ancient Romans, who used the springs very long time ago. Vrnjacka Banja is situated in the foot of the Gosha Mountain, and is an extremely green town, with great clean air. One of the attractions of the town, and its symbol is the sparrow Gochko, and another important sight is the “Bridge of Love”. Its history in short is that the schoolmistress Nada and the officer Relja fell in love for each other, and gave a promise to them in the dawn of the First World War. However, Relja went to war in Greece, felt in love with a Greek woman, married her, and broke the engage with Nada. Nada faded away day after day, and finally died, young and miserable. Since then the girls started to write down the names of their beloved men on padlock, in attempt to lock their love forever. These pads can be seen nowadays on the Nada’s and Relja’s favourite place-a bridge that is now called “The Bridge of Love.”