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CHAMPIONSHIP “MEDITERRANEAN 2009 “ 1. ROUND

These days the city of Rijeka is a host of the seventh Mediterranean chess championship. Being the region which connects three continents and where several ancient civilisations and cultures were born, the Mediterranean today joins chess players of all countries whose shore line is embraced by the Mediterranean sea or Mare Nostrum as it was called in antic times. The idea to form a Chess organisation which would gather together all the chess players from this  region has been born only recently, some seven years ago. The first Mediterranean championship was held in 2003 in Beirut, capital of Lebanon.

As the years passed, the number of countries interested to take part of this championship has increased, and therefore Rijeka saw the gathering of chess players from 19 countries, 17 of which are members of Mediterranean Chess Association while the representatives of Jemen and Andora play as guests.

The Mediterranean Chess Association president is Mr. Damir Levačić, man of our origin, born in Dalmatia, who lives in France and whose great pleasure was to accept the candidature of the city of Rijeka for the organisation of this interesting tournament.

As we all know, Rijeka has lately become the most dynamic chess center in Croatia and, thanks to the officials who not only have vision and ideas but also the ability to make them come true, has recently organised a number of chess tournaments of significant quality. The peak of such a development strategy will be the European individual men and women's chess tournament, to be held in spring of 2010. This Mediterranean championship will serve also as an ideal general rehearsal for this most demanding challenge for dilligent chess enthusiasts of Rijeka.

This years' Mediterranean championship which takes place for the seventh time, is a gathering point for 64 male and female chess players, of which four men and four women are bearers of the highest chess title. Seing them play at the common tournament is another indicator of equality of  sexes, at least when chess is concerned.

As we all know, at the tournaments which are played according to the Swiss system, in the first round the matches are played among the players placed in the upper part of the tournament table and those positioned at the lower part and who are far weaker, at least when the number of rating points is concerned. In such a situation, it is realistic to expect that the favourites will secure the first points in an easy manner, but the practice has proved that the saying „the ball being round“ can be applied to the chess as well and that the surprises may always happen. This event is not an exception, with victims in persons of the Croatian representative Saša Martinović and Turkish international master Esen, who was defeated in the match played with the national representative Orenda.

For those who are not familiar with the following fact, this has been the first time that the organiser has provided for the direct transmission of all the matches on Internet. In such a way, all chess lovers may watch live transmission of all the happenings organised in chess club Rijeka.

In the next six days, the remaining eight rounds will take place. All of them completed, we will find out who will be the Mediterranean seventh chess champion.

M.Cebalo



MEDITERRANEAN 2009 CHESS TOURNAMENT

With closing of the last - ninth round, the seventh Mediterranean individual men and women's chess tournament has ended today in Rijeka.

This simpatic regional competition which significance lies more in reminding us about the historical role played by the Mediterranean sea in connecting of various civilizations and cultures and creating friendship among nations who live at its shore lines, than in the importance of the sports results themselves, has successfully accomplished its task this time as well. With such a postulate in mind, I would like to begin this comment first with a few impressions of mine. The results reached will therefore be left for the end of the comment hereto.

Being a professional linguist, the most interesting detail for me was the one which usually separates us – a language barrier. It was an absolute enjoyment having an opportunity to listen to conversations led in so many different languages and taking part of them in conversations with long-term friends who took part of this championship. As usual, in situations when the language barrier would prove too high, inevitable English was used, as a language that best connects all the people at this planet.

When the tournament organization is concerned, having in mind that it was a kind of general rehearsal for the big show – European individual men and women's chess championship which will take place in Rijeka in about six months, we can conclude that the organization committee  led by the tournament director, ubiquitous Brian Dinter has passed this exam with excellent grades. Accommodation in luxurious Opatija hotels and tournament hall big enough to accommodate up to hundred players will surely remain in pleasant memory of all the tournament's participants.

However, there is one detail which somewhat depraves this excellent general impression and which should be given considerable thought – recently introduced „zero tolerance“ rule which obliges the players to be present by the chess board in the moment in which the clock begins to count the time. The idea is clear – the organizer wishes to avoid unpleasant situations when at the occasion of opening of big chess ceremonies, in the presence of local politicians and sponsors some of chairs at the head chessboards remain empty. This damages the reputation and image of the chess in the society. This regulation may be applied for big tournaments where the hall where chess is played is situated in the hotel that accommodates the players. However, at the occasion of mass championships, where the participants are accommodated in various hotels, kilometers away from the chess playing hall, as the case  was  here in Rijeka, insisting on this regulation seems absurd and even, I dare say, a kind of violence against chess players which harms their rights.  The Olympic Games in Dresden last year have proven for the first time all negative consequences of this rule, and this tournament has only reconfirmed this bad experience. This development will have to be very well reconsidered in the process of enacting of the regulations for the European Chess championship, especially if we bear in mind that Montenegro did not apply the above rule in the European chess championship which took place in Budva this year.

At the end, I would like to present a review of the results reached. The most potent champion, with the „Fischer“ result (8,5 out of 9) is Egyptian grandmaster Ahmed Adly, ex World youth champion, who  left his competitors 1,5 point behind and filed yet 28 rating points. Great pleasure for Rijeka public was taking of second place and winning of silver medal by Ognjen Cvitan, also ex World youth champion. The bronze medal was handed over to the French player, Le  Roux who lost the second position in the last round when he was defeated by Cvitan.

In women's competition, the gold medal was won by Greek grandmaster Botsari, but only thanks to KONTUMAC winning in the last match. The other two grand masters, Greek Yelena Dembo  (silver) and Croatian Mirjana Medić (bronze) won the remaining two medals. The Slovenian Jure Zorko won sixth place and he was best positioned of all the representatives coming from ex-Yugoslavia.

The story about the Mediterranean championship played in Rijeka these last seven days has ended. The chess players will face new responsibilities and new tournaments, as they live a life of a chess-player.

M.Cebalo