Around the World in 60 days

by ChessBase
1/19/2006 – Brana Malobabic-Giancristofaro doesn't just have an interesting name, she is also the mastermind behind an electronic scoresheet device. In her capacity as the CEO of the company MonRoi she has travelled the world – Turkey, Singapore, England, United States, Bulgaria and China. Her report concentrates on chess playing children.

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Around the World in 60 days

Part I Canada, Turkey, Bulgaria, USA, Singapore

By the MonRoi team

Brana Malobabic-Giancristofaro

Once upon a time in Montreal – or precisely Saint-Laurent – our mastemind ur mastermind, Brana Malobabic-Giancristofaro invented a hand-held wireless tournament management system called MonRoi. The enterprise is a remarkable success. We traveled the globe to meet people involved in promoting the game. And the stars of chess. And young people who are in the process of discovering the fascination of this ancient game.

First Steps, E-Tournament in Canada: Patricia Demers, Dmitry Jakovenko, Susan Polgar, Mayor Alan De Sousa, Florencio Campomanes, Eric Lawson, Brana

Did you know? More than 5,700 places in Canada (towns, rivers, lakes) have the word "Saint" in their names. The following were invented in Canada: the telephone, the gramophone, television, the snowmobile, the IMAX movie system, JAVA programming, the toboggan, the anti-gravity suit, the zipper, the heart pacemaker, the quartz clock and the compound steam engine. Not chess? Well, no one is perfect. However, at least they have built a wireless portable Chess Manager.

World Championship for Boys and Girls Under 20, Turkey

About Turkey

Our recent world tour started in Istanbul , Turkey. This is a country full of historic treasures, stemming from 13 successive civilizations spanning 10,000 years. Its territory blends two continents: Europe and Asia. Over two-thirds of the Turkish population is under thirty years old. Due to its varied landscape and climate, Turkey is rich with flora. The country’s soil is home to approximately 9,000 species of flowers, of which 3,000 are native. In Europe there are only 11,500 species. Moreover, Turkey provides 70% of the world's hazelnuts; the nut in your chocolate bar was probably grown in Turkey .

Ankara 's subway system was built by a Canadian consortium. It was a joint Turkish-Canadian venture that constructed the Almaty subway in Kazahkstan. Gens Una Sumus. Ali Nihat Yazici, President of the Turkish Chess Federation is clearly one of the most accomplished Chess Federation Presidents in the world.


Ali took us to dinner at a Turkish restaurant, where we had a wonderful fish dish. Boris Kutin, President of the European Chess Union from Slovenia , took our CEO to have Turkish baklava a few days later. A note to tournament organizers: if you want our team to work for you, be sure to present a generous amount of Local Delights.

Ali Nihat (right) and Brana celebrate a successful tournament

Of course the Internet connection never works the first day. Our patient friend Ahmed, a future recipient of a Masters degree in engineering (at least this is what he promised), changed the cables five times, while the hotel manager tried to remember what the Ethernet switch looks like. People should not try to plug the network cable in the telephone plug. Of course, most players skipped the Technical Commission and did not attend training (rules are made to be broken), while arbiters tried to figure out who can get assigned to the new technology section. We had this new “computer stuff,” like a strange alien with five heads and a trillion eyes. However, these kinds of monsters are found in many video games, so perhaps that is why the boys and girls took to the Chess Managers with ease.

Chess Arbiters

Boys Section

The sweetest chess players you've ever seen

Ali Made some Right Moves

When Ali made some Right Moves, everything got under control and soon all the electronic score sheets were grabbed up by many players, even the back-up ones. We were running on no spares, and luckily no player smashed their device, even after a few heated tie arguments. We were assured by the happy faces on the bulletin team, after they received the clean PGN files, that we were doing something right. As for the rest of the games, the bulletin team stayed all night trying to decode some paper score sheets. Prehistoric cave carvings are more legible.

The bulletin team, hard at work at 2 a.m.

Jianjun Zhou, our lead engineer, experienced an epiphany in Istanbul , after discovering a heavenly meal called Adana kebab. Do not be surprised if you see software subroutines named “Adana1,”  “Adana2” or similar, because Adana is all that Jianjun dreams about. On this tournament was proven an old saying “The way to a man's heart is through his stomach.”

Jianjun Zhou

Ahmed – the Adana Man

In every chess tournament, the champions are stars. We often forget how much work went into tournament organization to attract sponsors, take care of safety, as well as thousands of other little details.  This is all done with the hope that chess players will recognize and appreciate it. The charming and hospitable organizer team, directed by Ali and his group: Koral, Ozan, enthusiastic photo-reporter Fatma, technical support Ahmed, Cem, and the nick-named “Kokorech brothers” were ready to entertain guests at any time, whether it was playing pool, going out dancing, sight-seeing, or a walk to the specialty food places.

The Champions




A note to readers: Kokorech is a Turkish delicacy-sandwich filled with spicy lamb intestine (much better than it sounds). The organizers, arbiters, players, and Jianjun became inseparable by the end of the tournament. We discovered Sava Kizova, a blond (quite a phenomenon) FIDE International Arbiter, who was computer literate. Sava was trained by Geurt Gijssen, FIDE Chairman Rules and Regulations from Netherlands who was proud to watch his student’s progress in Istanbul .

Sava Kizova , International FIDE Arbiter

World Tour Continues! Bulgaria

Enthusiasm is contagious. Sava took the system to Sofia, Bulgaria . You might know that Bulgaria currently has three FIDE World Champions. Veselin Topalov is the reigning men's champion, Antoaneta Stefanova wears the woman's crown, and Liuben Spassov holds the Seniors' scepter. Many thanks to Mr. Nikolay Velchev, Executive Director of the Bulgarian Chess Federation.

Visit in Bulgaria

Stojanovic Marija and Kosana from Serbia , Chess Players and Future Arbiters

Many chess players suffer from smartness, good looks and good senses of humor. Hop on the train, it is never too late.

World Tour Continues! USA

We also recently visited the National Scholastic Event in Houston, Texas. Imagine over 1500 kids with their parents running towards pairings boards. Watch your step. "I like to try new things,” Aaron Reyes from Texas explained, "Your Chess Manager is a lot faster than paper notation. I enjoyed using it." Fellow Texan Steven Watson tried it and said, "it’s a neat idea to see the games over the Internet, and not to have to keep track of scorebooks anymore." Parents were particularly excited about the possibility of following their kids' games in real time on the net. Many thanks to the fantastic team from Crossville, Tennessee:  USCF President Bill Hall, Jerry Nash, Diane Reese, Robert Tanner and Carol Jarecki.

Aaron Reyes

2nd Singapore International Chess Convention

About Singapore

Singapore consists only of one main island and 63 other tiny islands. Although English is the official working language, the national anthem 'Majulah Singapura' is actually sung in Malay. The Supreme Court of Singapore is British-influenced. And guess what? Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is Canada’s official head of state. So, there we are; Singapore was our next destination.

The world's first night zoo, the Night Safari, is located in Singapore.

Eight out of ten people in Singapore own cell phones. This is good news for any hi-tech technology company. In Singapore Internet cafés and computer game places are packed from early morning. The weather is fantastic. The town was full of Christmas decorations. Restaurants were packed. There were people laughing wherever you looked, and kids running around having fun.

Asian Chess School Festival

The Asian Schools Chess Festival for age groups U-9, U-11, U-13 and U-15, which was organized by Ignatius Leong, FIDE General Secretary and the Singapore Chess Federation attracted 145 players representing Mongolia, South Korea, Malaysia, China, Singapore, Indonesia, Australia, India, Sri-Lanka, Philippines, Vietnam and Hong Kong.

Ignatius Leong

By the time we got to Singapore, all bogymen were gone, and running a fully automated tournament was a piece of cake. The Internet connection was up. Exemplary Ignatius runs a Training Academy . He organized precisely the training of players and arbiters, and we established one of the most effective technology implementation collaborations. All tournament games were broadcast using our technology, and tournament bulletins were produced immediately after each round ended. This was a dream team. Chess players aged seven to fifteen years old quickly replaced paper with electronics.  This is no wonder; Singapore kids use computers as soon as they are born. Besides being friendly, computer savvy, respectful and adorable, chess players in Asia can also sing and dance.

A must visit is one of the Karaoke bars in Singapore. Even Brana sang (singing is not part of her repertoire of talents). Polina Tsedenova from the FIDE Secretariat who sat next to Brana, got ear blockage, which kept coming back for the rest of her holidays. Or, perhaps this was because the private Karaoke lounge was colder than Khanty-Mansiysk and Northern Quebec combined. 

Ignatius Leong singing, right FIDE Vice Preisdent Zurab Azmaiparashvili

The Chairman of FIDE Arbiter’s Council, Panagiotis Nikolopoulos from Greece invited Brana to present the new solution to the Arbiters, which were in training. The Chairman of Training Commission Yuri Razuvaev from Russia and the ex trainer of a former world champion, Anatoly Karpov, was holding one the training seminars at the Chess Academy. Singapore is an example of a true International Chess Convention.

Following is one of our loveliest photo reports. The kids melted our hearts.

Brana with the Children Champions

Sri Lanka team training

Having fun with the kids

Somebody here really likes kids!


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