Belogradchik Rocks (Pictures-Eddie)

When this May while playing the Bulgarian teams Eddie told me that he is organizing an amateur tournament at the beginning of September in Belogradchik, I found the idea fabulous. This was the first time that such an event would take place in Bulgaria, and the things that he told me about the organization convinced me that it is worth the efforts. I met him in…Milano, Italy when he came for a tournament from France where his future wife was studying. Nowadays Evtim Stefanov is the president of the Bulgarian team champion- Nayden Voynov-Vidin, and organizer of the First Blakan Amateur Tournament in Belogradchik.
This small town is chosen for a host city for a good reason. It is located near the capital Sofia, and is exuberant in natural wonders, the most famous one being the Belogradchik Rocks with their weird forms and shapes. The rock figures are approximately 200 meters tall, and there are altogether three groups. The central and biggest one of them is right next to Belogradchik.

A total of 110 players took part in the event, from fifteen different countries, and almost all continents. The tournament became huge success, and we are starting head over feet with the final standings:
The winner of the festival with total 7.5 points was Naiden Dobrev from Dobrich. He is a young player, and started viciously not to let any chance for his closest pursuers- Yanko Panayotov (second) and Momchil Todorov (third) (all from Bulgaria). Dimitar Krastanov was ranked fourth and became a champion among the players without FIDE rating. Best rating performance was delivered by Velizar Sofranov, who managed to make 7 points thanks to excellent play and the training of the Grandmaster team. The winners received a total of 15 000lv /about 7500euro/ of total 18 prizes. Not a bad price fund at all, it can easily compete with any open event.
The mayor of Belogradchik, Mr. Emil Tsankov personally awarded the winners of the festival with the medal of honour of Municipality Belogradchik and invited all the players to visit again the next year tournament in mid August 2011 for its second edition.
However, this was not all that the tournament can be proud of. Many beside activities took place. There was a voting for a queen of the event, which was won by Simoneta Ivanova. She is only 13 from Pleven and already chess queen of the first Balkan amateur chess festival. She was elected by the participants in the tournament. Two more chess ladies received gifts from Municipality Belogradchik and Chess Club Naiden Voinov. These are Tsveta Galunova from Veliko Tarnovo and Silvia-Raluca Sgircea from Dobreta Turnu Severin, Romania. At the ceremony Saturday evening at a glass of wine the manager of hotel “Skalite” presented the festival queen with a body peeling spa therapy with chocolate and honey.
On Friday night 54 players entered a blitz battle in 9 rounds. After a tense fight Bogidar Ivanov won the tournament with 7 wins and 2 draws. Dejan Dimitrov (former chess trainer, and sports journalist at the moment) finished second and the leader in the main tournament Naiden Dobrev ended third.

Additionally a team blitz took place. The winners were Plamen Vasilev and Dimitar Pashev from Bulgaria. Second finished the Macedonians Vladimirov and Semshiu and enjoyed a professional massage in spa hotel Skalite for both of them and Hristo Velchev and Tsvetelin Stoev finished third and rolled downhill in a big zorbing ball.

The activities included lessons with GMs. Some of the participants profited from their work with GM Delchev, GM Iotov and FM Velchev. All these title-holders are members of the Nayden Voinov team that won the Bulgarian championship this year. Those masters were analysing the best games of the festival in the evenings with tons of humor and intelligence. The participants could also take part in the analyses, and gave their opinion. Those lectures were completely free of charge. Furthermore, there were private or group lessons for those willing to take part.
Four excursions were organized for the players. They visited “Kaleto”, the Magura cave, “Baba Vida” fortress and to ride a buggy in the famous Belogradchik rocks.
The second edition of the festival is scheduled for August 2011. We will be happy to see more people joining it.

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