Journey Through Time


 Translated by Vesna Stevkovska

In the last round, the men’s national team defeated the world champion Armenia and is now seventh in the world - our best ever placement at the Olympiad.


           The 34th Chess Olympiad held in Istanbul, Turkey, will be written in gold letters in the history of chess in the Republic of Macedonia. Namely, the men’s national team - although unexpected, yet fully deserved according to the games they illustrated at the 34th Chess Olympiad in Istanbul - came in seventh place. This was a pleasant surprise even for the greatest optimists. This success is even bigger considering that our Dragan Jakimovik was the most successful chess player at the Olympiad on the third board, and won the gold medal. Thus, our chess players achieved the greatest success in the history of Macedonian chess. The Macedonian women’s national team achieved a place within their abilities and came in the expected 42nd place.

            Therefore, ever since Sunday, 12th of November, from the moment when the curtain of the 34th Olympiad in Istanbul was dropped, Macedonia can rightfully regard itself a major power in chess! The gold medal of the international chess master Dragan Jakimovik - whose October rating was 2,465 - for the third board, and even more so his brilliant sharing of 7-13 place competing against 128 men’s selections, and the winning of the current European chess champion Armenia in the last round, means by far the best ever Macedonian achievement of all four times it has participated in Olympiads since its independence.

           In the past six years since our admission in FIDE, we have never been even close to these results at any of the significant chess competitions including the European championships.

            The Macedonian teams of the biggest “black-and-white” manifestation yet, with 128 male and 87 female teams participating, gave us many happy moments by playing cautiously yet without respect in their duels against every rival. In fact, this is what they promised prior to their departure during the press conference held by the Macedonian Chess Association at which forecasts were optimistic. Finally, all wishes were fulfilled because the Macedonian chess players proved once again that they can fearlessly stand up to the best teams in the world, equally opposing their rivals in the “ancient game.”

            It must be noted especially that for the first time at any international competition, the Macedonian chess national team used the constitutional name of the Republic of Macedonia in official documents and places, in all communications and information, particularly Internet. The host rejected all protests and insinuations of the persistent Greek representatives. By doing this the Republic of Turkey and the Turkish people proved to be great friends and supporters of the name and acts of the Republic of Macedonia and the Macedonian people.

            The Macedonian national male chess team comprised of: Nikola Mitkov, Trajce Nedev, Dragan Jakimovik, Vlatko Bogdanovski, Marjan Mitkov, and Atanas Kizov, headed by the selector, Ivan Kocovski, proved their great potential for chess and in future we should expect good results of them.

              As a result of their seventh place in Istanbul, the Agency of Youth and Sport categorized the members of the Macedonian male national team as sportists of international ranking. Therefore, during the next two years they will receive a monthly stipend of 12,000 denars. Also worthy of notice, the women’s national chess team, which also left a good impression, is comprised of: Gabriela Koskoska, Vesna Sekulovska, Mira Beleska-Kircek, and Aleksandra Janevska, with Rolando Kutirov as captain.

              “I am thrilled that chess will finally find its true place in Macedonian sport. This generation has achieved the unimaginable. Everyone did their best. For the first time we were not tense while playing, and we knew exactly what we wanted. Hence, the success,” Dragan Jakimovik, the gold medal winner exclaimed.

              Grand Master, Nikola Mitkov, said: “We did not expect this result, but when the last match came, I believed in the victory over Armenia because it is much easier to play after two maximum wins.” Vlatko Bogdanovski emphasized that at Olympiads they had always wanted to play against some of the ten best selections and said: “The national team has never achieved such an extra-result at the end of a competition. Expectations prior to the last round were that the European champion would be fifth after defeating us badly so that we would fall down to where we were at the beginning of the Olympiad - 42nd place - but we spoiled their plans.”

             Following their achievement at the 34th Chess Olympiad in Istanbul, the Macedonian chess players were greeted as heroes. On this occasion, the president of the Chess Association of Macedonia, Marjan Gorcev, exclaimed the following for the Macedonia Review: “We knew that the team was ready for their best achievement because our chess players, objectively, are much better than their rating. At this Olympiad it was adorned by unity at all six boards, compactness, extreme maturity, maximum energy, and excellent atmosphere in the team. We played with excellent rhythm throughout the entire Olympiad, successfully opposing Georgia, which came in sixth place; Uzbekistan, which shared seventh place with us; Bulgaria, which finished behind us; and finally, the European champion Armenia, which was a move to be remembered.

             We were further motivated by the exceptional attitude of the host, who ignored Greek protests against the use of the constitutional name of our country in all official places and documents, which enabled us to feel at home. The young men took maximum advantage of this and proved that they are worthy of investment. The Chess Association of Macedonia nominated Ohrid as candidate for the zone tournament of the next World Championship of FIDE, to be held at the end of next year. There are realistic chances that we might be chosen for this significant tournament.” Marjan Gorcev also added that the traditional “Skopje Open” will already be organized in January. However, this time it will be at a much higher level, with participation of highly ranked chess players, who will play at about ten digital chess boards. It will be broadcast on Internet directly, and will provide many rich prizes.