Aquaprofit on the path to chess success

by ChessBase
11/3/2010 – Chess and bottled water – a two-billion Forint company engaged in important environmental projects in Hungary and all over the world – a great team. In 2009/2010 Aquaprofit-NTSK emerged as national champions for a third time, and now they are going for another title. With the likes of Shirov, Naiditsch, Caruana, Beliavsky, Nisipeanu, Kotronias and none other than Vishy Anand on the team.

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At a Banquet with the Champions

By Diana Mihajlova

It is that time of the year again – early autumn, when most national team championships kick off. In many countries, their ‘chess leagues’ are an important happening in their chess calendars. Some of the strongest players are fielded among various national leagues including the English 4NCL, the Spanish League, the French League etc, among whom the German Bundesliga keeps the accolade as the world’s strongest, in which the world’s reigning champion also plays. Another team, the Hungarian Aquaprofit-NTSK. can proudly claim to have listed Vishy Anand on their squad for a round in the last season.

The Hungarian Team Championship 2010/2011 started the new season on the 10th October with Aquaprofit-NTSK as the current champion. Last year they emerged as winners for a third time. They lost the cup once to the Csuti SK, in 2007/08, but for the last two consecutive years they firmly clung to it. Some weeks ago we celebrated their ‘champion title’ with a big banquet.

On the day of the celebration, a number of cars carrying the team champions and other guests headed from Budapest and other parts of Hungary towards Nagykanizsa, a little town in the far west of Hungary. There, in a rustic eatery called Kiskakas (Little Rooster) they would mark the winning of the Hungarian Team Championship with a big celebratory dinner. Why Nagykanizsa? Because it was originally the hometown not only to the winning team but also to its sponsor, its captain and other chess personalities that are proud of their town with a long chess tradition.

The main square of Nagykanizsa

A Local Government Building in the town’s centre with a traditional architecture whose roof emulates elements of the thatched village huts. ‘2004’ was added in remembrance of the year in which Hungary was admitted to the European Union. In the corner, we see a glimpse of Dr. Andras Flumbort, the team’s captain and a native of the town.

Situated in the county Zala, Nagykanizsa has a long history of rivalry with Zalaegerseg, another sporty town and the county’s capital, which hosts the second best chess team ‘Csutisk’. ‘It is something like Real Madrid and Barcelona’, said GM Imre Hera, who was my companion in the car and throughout the two and a half hour journey gave me some insights into the sport activities of the two rival cities. They have been changing supremacy in various disciplines with Zalaegerseg being successful in most, including football and basketball. But Nagykanizsa retains the glory of chess.

GM Imre Hera on the way to Nagykanizsa. 19-year-old Imre was still jet-lagged, having just returned from a successful chess tour in India. But he would not miss the celebration of his winning team.

Before dinner, a group portrait of the winning team

From left: Mr Nandor Papp (a local MP), GM Imre Hera, Mr Peter Ceresnyes (Deputy Mayor), GM Jozsef Pinter, GM Zoltan Medvegy, Mr Zoltan Nemeth (President Nagykanizsa Chess Club), Dr Andras Flumbort (captain), IM Valer Krutti, GM Laszlo Gonda, GM Péter Prohászka, Mr Tamas Nadasi (sponsor), IM Miklos Orso, GM Ivan Farago.

One important guest and a team member is missing in the group photo.

The Champions’ banquet was preceded with speeches and the presentation of the trophy and the medals, but GM Judit Polgar, Hungary’s chess princess, was slightly delayed. She arrived, with her husband, just on time to receive her medal and join for dinner.

Zsolt Korpics, the Hungarian Chess Federation’s secretary handed the Cup to
team captain Dr Andras Flumbort

The medal bearers: (from left) GM Péter Prohászka, IM Miklos Orso, GM Jozsef
Pinter, GM Zoltan Medvegy, GM Imre Hera, GM Andras Flumbort (captain)

Unfortunately not all of the players were able to attend the celebration. The team champion’s list of players include some of the brightest stars of Hungarian chess, including their stalwart Lajos Portichs. Their dedicated captain Dr Andras Flumbort also managed to enlist some of the leading international players including Shirov, Naiditsch, Caruana, Beliavsky, Nisipeanu, Kotronias and none less than – Vishy Anand.

The dinner is underway – some of the guests in the dining hall of ‘Kiskakas’

Antal Balogh, a local writer, was meticulously noting the speeches and the events throughout the dinner. He has written a book ‘Road to becoming a Hungarian Champion’, which chronicles two centuries of chess in Nagykanizsa.

IM Miklos Orso, GM Zoltan Medvegy, IM Miklos Galyas, GM Laszlo Gonda

GM Jozsef Pinter and his partner, a local lady who is actively promoting chess in
Nagykanizsa primary schools

The youngest players, the Zsirai brothers, Peter (12) and Andras (14) play in the
second, newly created Aquaprofit team

Tamas Nadasi, CEO of ‘Aquaprofit’, is a sponsor of an annual event that reunites the three Polgar sisters, at which Judit, Susan and Sophie, who today live on three different continents, are brought together to Budapest for a daylong of chess celebration with simultaneous and blindfold exhibitions. The next meeting with the Polgars will be on the 27th November.

GM Péter Prohászka is among the most promising young Hungarian chess stars. After becoming the World Champion under 14 in 2006, he steadily kept up a winning streak and less than three years later achieved a grandmaster title. Peter lives in Vac, a village north of Budapest where, supported by his family, he dedicates his young life almost exclusively to chess. ‘Chess is my life’, I can still hear Peter’s voice in the car on our way back to Budapest. It was an after midnight journey and I had a pleasure listening to his ceaseless, enthusiastic speech about chess, only interrupted when he needed to turn to our other travel companion, IM Miklos Orso, to ask him about a word in English that he was missing.

Unlike most players whose fathers were their first instructors in chess, in Peter’s case it was his mother who awakened in him the love for the game. She could not practice her profession as a mathematician because she had three young children to look after, but she could spend a lot of time imparting her knowledge to Peter, who showed an immediate attachment and talent for chess. Today, after establishing himself among the young Hungarian chess elite, he has regular training sessions with one of the most sought after coaches, GM Peter Lukacs.

GM Laszlo Gonda and his father, who was our kind chauffeur for the day, as appointed by ‘Aquaprofit’.
Laszlo is another up and coming young Hungarian talent. He brought the highest number of wins to his team, 8.5/9. In 2000 he won the second place in the World Junior Championship under 12. His chess career was marked later on with successful wins at Hungarian Opens, most notably winning the strong International Open in Balatonlelle in 2009. His GM title was just recently confirmed at the latest FIDE Presidential Board Meeting, 24-25 July 2010 in Tromso, NOR.

A team’s success depends on its players who depend on a generous sponsor.

Mr Tamas Nadasi, ‘Aquaprofit’s CEO and sponsor of the Team Champion

‘Aquaprofit’ dates back to 1994 when it was founded in Nagykanizsa; throughout the years, it changed its profile and interests until 2001 when it established its headquarters in Budapest and defined its activities as Engineering, Consulting and Investment Company. Today it has grown into one of the leading consulting companies in Hungary with a two billion Forint turnover and offices in five regions of Hungary, subsidiary companies in the neighbouring Romania and Croatia and representative offices in Brussels for the European Union and Lima, Peru for Latin America.

Nadasi in front of a fraction of his huge mineral water bottle collection from all corners of the world; some of them are centuries old. He has managed to write a book (co-authored with Peter Udud), that was published in 2007 with a simple title: ‘Book about Mineral Waters’ – a well researched, illustrated study of treatment and use of mineral water throughout the world since antiquity to present.

‘Aquaprofit’ has been entrusted with important environmental projects including the improvement of the drinking water quality in the North and South Plains of Hungary, improvement of the navigability of Danube, and maintenance and supervision of all 15 spas in the Budapest region. The company was awarded by the European Union for contribution to Tourism and Health Tourism.

Mr Tamas Nadasi’ activity as a chess patron started many years ago on a more modest scale. His first chess beneficiaries were young, promising players from his town Nagykanizsa, where for thirty years he held the position of a Chairman of the local community. Among them was a boy who was showing a particular talent. Years later this boy grew up to captain his benefactor’s team and lead it to the top.

The patron and his former beneficiary – Tamas Nadasi and Dr Andras Flumbort. Andras slowed down his chess career during his studies to become a lawyer, but today, at 25 years of age, he is a newly elected grandmaster.

As a team captain, Dr Andras Flumbort strived to recruit only the best. On his players’ list are found some of the greatest stars of Hungarian and international chess. However, his biggest coup is enlisting for a round the world champion, Vishy Anand.

On a visit to the ‘Aquaprofit’ offices and Tamas Nadasi, Vishy examines a centuries
old clay bottle that was used for mineral water

In June 2009, Vishy Anand combined his stay in Hungary with a rapid tournament against Peter Leko in Miskolc, a round in the Hungarian Championship playing for Aquaprofit and also, to the delight of many Hungarian children, he gave his support to a youth tournament in Budapest, sponsored by Aquaprofit.

Anand surrounded by young Hungarian chess players

Anand presents a diploma and a medal to 11-year-old Gergely Kantor

If one googles ‘Aquaprofit’, the company’s business achievements are obliterated by its chess achievements. To the consternation of his co-leaders, Tamas Nadasi seems to be sometimes overlooking his company’s duties because of his dedication to chess. But it is not so. ‘Aquaprofit’ is going from strength to strength with a global expansion signalled through a partnership with the Chinese company Shenzhen Investment Holding. Their joint venture is expected to create the world’s greatest environmental project. Nadasi is chair of the Asian Club of Hungary, which operates within the Hungarian Ministry for environment. Recently he was also elected Chairman of the Hungarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Tamas Nadasi strikes me as those rare individuals that are capable of juggling many activities with an effortless, nonchalant attitude, which usually brings about positive results. His business acumen and highly professional but friendly approach in his dealings have already proved a sure fire for success. So when he announced to me that his future chess project he is contemplating would be a super tournament of the type of Dortmund and Wijk aan Zee, I can only say with eager anticipation: ‘Mr Nadasi, we are awaiting your next winning move!’

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