Women Grand Prix in Jermuk Starts Today

One of the most famous Armenian resorts- Jermuk hosts the fourth tournament from the Women Grand Prix Series from today. This small town (with a population of approximately six thousand people) is situated in the mountains with an altitude of 2080 meters. It is famous for its mineral water springs, green forests and fresh air.
Twelve players compete in the round robin event that will end on fifth of July, with only one free day on 30-th June. The time limit is one hour and thirty minutes for fourty moves, and thirty minutes additional time after that, with an increment of thirty seconds for every move.
The Zero Tolerance rule is applied, but this should not be a problem for the ladies, as they live literally some 15-20 meters away from the venue. All the games will be played in the Armenia hotel, which also hosted part of the male Grand Prix series.
The players are not allowed to offer draws to each other, but only throughout the arbiter when the position has a theoretical character, there is a three-fold repletion or perpetual check. Chief advisor for such cases will be the legendary champion Nona Gaprindashvili from Georgia. The six time women champion is also a guest of honour in Jermuk.
Before the opening ceremony there was a short players meeting in the lobby of the hotel, where the participants were greeted by the organizers and Jeffrey Borg. The chief arbiters from Armenia were presented to the participants and the most important details were clarified. The ladies received gifts and souvenirs from Jermuk.
The weather yesterday was quite tricky and no one was sure till the end if the opening ceremony in front of the hotel will take place. Rain was coming and going, but finally the weather was merciful, and the ceremony started in time.
The heroes of the future chess battles were presented to the audience, with short information about their major achievements so far. First the former world champions were invited to the stage. There are three of them- M. Chiburdanidze (Georgia), Xu Yuhua (China) and A. Stefanova (Bulgaria). They were directed to their places by life chess pieces. These chess figures stayed on the podium till the end, waiting for their final dance, but the lack of mobility caused an incident as one of them collapsed. Fortunately there was no serious injury for that chess hero.
FIDE president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov paid a tribute to the players, and made a short speech. He said that the tournament might be referred as an unofficial world championship not only because of the presence of three former world champions, but also for the quality of all the participants.
Ilymzhinov’s speech was followed by songs of famous Armenian singers. As the tournament is named after one of the most famous chess composers ever- Genrikh Kasparian, a short movie about him was shown after that. Kasparian was born hundred years ago.
Finally, the president of the country Serzh Sargsyan, who is also a president of the Armenian Chess Federation greeted the players before the drawing of lots took place. The players were presented with bouquets of flowers, in which their starting numbers were hidden.
The tournament starts today at three o’clock local time.


Bulgarian Team Championships

Bulgarian Team Championships took place in Albena between 27 May and 2 June. The tradition to organize the competitions on nice resorts was kept for good and one of the greenest Black-sea resorts hosted the event.
The women section saw eight teams competing for the medals. The first place though seemed to be an easy task for the team of CSKA (V.Cmilyte, E. Zaiats, S.Collas, E.Djingarova, R. Gocheva) who won all their matches more than convincingly. As many of the chess players observed this team might be better than the Bulgarian female national one. Five out of seven matches ended with a “dry” score, including those against the future silver and bronze medal winners. CSKA lost only 1.5 points on all boards throughout the championship, and became the indisputable champion. Runner up became the young and perspective team of Lokomotiv 2000 (A. Nikolova, I. Videnova, D. Sirkova, M. Janeva, N. Kalcheva). They made a great championship, and won 12 match points in total (only one loss, you know against whom). Third is the experienced team of Lokomotiv Plovdiv (M.Voiska, Sv.Yordanova, R.Genova, P. Chilingirova). From the division were relegated the teams of “Krakra Pernishki” and “Mikhail Tal”-Cherven Briag. Quite curious was the situation in the second division where there was a severe fight for the first two places between…two teams. Somehow they both got promoted.
The male part saw more excitement. Until the final round there was no clearance who will claim the title, and the right to take part at the ECC in Plovdiv this year. Two teams (CSKA-Sofia and Naiden Voinov-Vidin) made strong selection. The team from the capital, with strong financial support managed to attract K.Georgiev, K.Lupulescu, V. Spasov, A.Kolev, Kr.Rusev (all strong GMs), as well as the young I.Enchev, who did very well in the last championship. My team Vidin had in its disposal A.Delchev,V.Iotov, A.Kogan, M.Nikolov, M.Petrov, D.Bojkov, all GMs. We were younger, they were more experienced, and the eternal question which skill will prevail had to be answered throughout the seven days.
The decisive match was bound to be played in the third round. We started with a short draw, than a win for our team, then another draw on board one. At this moment it seemed that CSKA will suffer an utter defeat, as on each of all the remaining three boards we had an extra pawn. However, the seemingly impossible happened. First Iotov could not convert his extra material against Lupulescu, then Petrov blundered his opponent’s only threat and lost, and finally Kogan missed his chances against Spasov. 3-3, everything had to start from the beginning, and both teams had not only to win their matches, but to do so with biggest possible margin.
This was a hard moment for our team, and I had to cheer them up. Karaoke bar in the night came handy although I still wonder if they enjoyed the music, or the laughter.
Anyway, in the next two rounds we lost 2.5 points in total, while CSKA only 1.5, and took the lead.
Penultimate round had to give definite answer who will win. CSKA were facing the third ranked Lokomotiv Plovdiv and we- Lokomotiv 2000, both of these teams are composed by titled players. Our match started devastatingly, with two loses for us. Any lost point now would mean that we are already out of the competition, but we managed to concentrate, and took the maximum-4-2. In the meanwhile CSKA were suffering after five draws, but finally managed to take the overall success- 3.5-2.5. Thus we were leveled before the final round, and the only difference was the fourth criteria, which was in our favour. We also had to play against slightly worse opponent. And despite the fact that CSKA won their match 6-0, we also managed to do so, and claim the title for the first time in the history of the club. Bronze medals went to Lokomotiv –Plovdiv.
The happiest man of us all was our president- Evtim Stefanov. Eddie, who is in the chess society from not very long risked a lot with our team. The municipality provided the funds in the very last minute and he was shaking till then, ready to spend the money on his own pocket. Now he is ready with his next project- an open amateur (up to 2250 rated) tournament in September (5-12), with 7500 euro price fund. The tournament will take place in one of the most picturesque towns in Bulgaria-Belogradchik. More info on www.belchess.com