6 Months and 60 Minutes

This mass match on 100 boards was prepared long time ago and took place on Saturday, 28 May, just a couple of hours before the finals of the Soccer Champion’s League. There was no special occasion; it was just the passion to our great game and the respect that we have towards each other as nations that made the event happen. The Bulgarian and Serbian people have many things in common: we have similar language, use the Cyrillic alphabet, have the same religion- Orthodox Christians, and we have cooperated greatly in various arias of life, and chess is naturally one of them. Quite remarkable is the case with the legendary Serbian GM Svetozar Gligorich, who first became Bulgarian champion (unofficially) in 1945 and only after that, won his many titles in his home Yugoslavia.
100 boards is a lot of people and we were symbolically separated in various categories. Beside the male and female boards there were also students, handicapped, youth and seniors over 55 and 60 years. Furthermore, the unusual categories of federation and club managements, politicians, teachers, businessmen, journalists and even holy men competed each other.
It was a great chance for the players to meet some of their friends that they have not seen with years. It was also great to see many of our living legends gathered together.
Bankia is a state in Sofia, famous for the mineral water and the green environment. It become one of the hottest spots on the Bulgarian chess map this year, as both the male and female championships were conducted here in April.
The mayor of Sofia Yordanka Fandukova, the deputy mayor of Begrade as well as many other politicians paid attention to the event, and made the symbolical first move.
Bulgaria was represented by Kiril Georgiev on the first male board, and Antoaneta Stefanova on the top female board, who had just arrived from the WIECC in Georgia as a silver medalist. Serbia’s top boards were Ivan Ivanisevic and Natasa Bojkovic. A total of 33 GMs and numerous titled players took part in the match. The time limit was 25 minutes per game, with an increment of 10 seconds per move. The top boards were translated online.
On the top boards we appeared to be quite hospitable hosts. However, we managed to recover the losses thanks to the business/politics/management stuff to finally clinch the win with the slim edge 51.5/48.5
The executive director of the Bulgarian chess Federation Nikolay Velchev said that this was “The longest prepared match (6 months) which ended in just 60 minutes”, but brought numerous positive emotions to all the participants.
The next match will be played in Belgrade.

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