Scenes from the Karpos Open 2018

by Diana Mihajlova
4/13/2018 – The 2018 Karpos Open was won by IM Radoslav Dimitrov ahead of GM Sinisa Drazic on tiebreak. Both players scored 7½ / 9 points. Diana Mihajlova sends photos and a brief report from the Macedonian capital, Skopje. | Pictured: Drazic and Dimitrov

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Hanging on to tradition

The Skopje tournament, Karpos Open, began in 2010 as a way of continuing the long tradition of high quality chess cultivated in the past throughout the former Yugoslavia, in the days when renowned Yugoslav grandmasters like Matanović, Ljubojević, Velimirović, Gligorić, Ivkov and Matulović (to name just a few) were on par with the most successful players in the world. Notable international tournaments took place on the Yugoslav territory including Skopje. The 20-year chess jubilee of the Chess Olympiad was held in Skopje, in October 1972, when Russia claimed gold followed by Hungary and Yugoslavia.

Youtube video of the 1972 Olympiad featuring the Soviet Team of Petrosian, Korchnoi, Smyslov and Tal, with Karpov as first reserve!

Times are changing and the region has had its fair share of political upheavals. Macedonia's progress towards ascension to the European Union and bid to join the NATO alliance has been stymied by the country's large neighbour to the south, Greece, in a dispute over its name — the United Nations has maintained the awkward "Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" (FRYOM) until a consensus resolution could be reached — a contentious political standoff.

Google Map

Politics aside, when it comes to chess, the show must go on and Karpos Open took place in Skopje, for an eighth time, from March 24th to 31st, just before the Easter holidays. Under the auspices of the Karpos municipality, it was hosted again by the 5-star Aleksandar Palace Hotel. 

Aleksandar Palace hotel

Aleksandar Palace Hotel | Photo: 

Eight years ago, the tournament was inaugurated with great ambition and a substantial prize fund of 30,000 euro.

Today, the economic climate has made a significant dent in its budget. However, with 10,200 euro, the Karpos Open is still the best tournament in the region and among the best in Europe. With 165 players from 17 federations, including 58 title holders (14 GMs, 18 IMs), it offers a great opportunity for achieving norms.  

Its continued existence is due to the persistent efforts of Tournament Director IM Zoran Stojchevski (pictured, right), a Deputy Banking Software Manager at Asseco SEE, the tournament’s main sponsor.

Zoran, together with IM Marjan Mitkov and IM Orce Danchevski founded Gambit Asseco Chess Club, the organizer of the tournament.

Dimitrov and Drazic

The winner, IM Radoslav Dimitrov (7½/9) from Bulgaria also made his final GM norm. Many visitors from Macedonia's eastern neighbour participated but they were playing under a FIDE flag, rather than their native flag, due to a ban imposed by FIDE on the Bulgarian Federation and former ECU president Silvio Danailov due to ethics and financial irregularities.

The second prize winner, Serbian GM Sinisa Drazic (7½/9) is often seen at tournaments with his travelling library of chess books and accessories for sale. Upon receiving his prize, he was happy to announce the secret of his success: "If you sell chess books, you can make some income. But if you also read them, you can make some more income".

Croatian young hope, 17-year-old IM Leon Livaic, won the third prize (7/9).

Leon Livaic

Third prize winner: Leon Livaic | Photo: Diana Mihajova

As a result of the close cooperation between the Turkish and Macedonian Chess Federations, a large delegation of Turkish players usually takes part at the Karpos Open returning home with several categories and rating prizes. The 8-year-old Yusuf Cagan Turkmen was best in the Under-10 category.

Yusuf Cagan Turkmen

Yusuf Cagan Turkmen with Andrey Manolev, the Karpos Municipality Council’s President who attended the prize giving ceremony and delivered the prizes | Photo: Diana Mihajova

Another country that built up fruitful chess cooperation with Macedonia is Kazakhstan. Somehow it happened that Kazakh women are more prone to participate. A couple of years ago, there was IM Dinara Saduakassova. This year, two more Kazakh chess princesses graced the Karpos Open: Kazakhstan’s women National Champion WGM Guliskhan Nakhbayeva and the World Youth Champion U-20, IM Zhansaya Abdumalik.

Gulishkhan and Abdumalik

Guliskhan Nakhbayeva and Zhansaya Abdumalik beaming on the early spring sun in front of the hotel | Photo: Diana Mihajova

The organizers are particularly happy when players make norms as a result of their participation at the tournament. Apart from the GM norms for the winner Dimitrov, Abdumalik had a great tournament winning the best woman prize and achieving her second GM norm (7/9), and Greek players Stamatis Kourkoulos-Arditis and Konstantinos Megalios made IM norms (6/9). Gabriela Antova from Bulgaria made WIM norm (5/9). Macedonian promising talent, 19-year-old Nikola Nikolovski will be 13th Macedonian international master after achieving his final IM norm.

Nikola Nikolovski

Nikola Nikolovski (second from left) surrounded by the Gambit Asseco Club founders, Zoran Stojchevski, Marjan Mitkov and Orce Dancevski (right) | Photo: Diana Mihajova

Trajko Nedev

Macedonian GM Trajko Nedev, with 6½/9, was best placed on the ranking list among his compatriots | Photo: Diana Mihajova

This year, the tournament was enriched by a problem-solving competition that took place immediately after the Open. It was won by Nikos Sidiropoulos from Greece. This competition serves as a rehearsal for the larger, international problem-solving contest scheduled to take place in Ohrid, September 1st to 8th 2018.

Karpos panorama

A panorama of the Skopje’s municipality Karpos, the host and sponsor of the tournament | Photo: OpstinaKarpos on Facebook 

Final Standings (top 25)

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Dimitrov Radoslav 7,5 52,0
2 Drazic Sinisa 7,5 44,5
3 Livaic Leon 7,0 51,5
4 Georgiev Kiril 7,0 51,5
5 Abdumalik Zhansaya 7,0 48,0
6 Markus Robert 7,0 46,0
7 Nikolovski Nikola 7,0 44,5
8 Nedev Trajko 6,5 51,0
9 Perunovic Milos 6,5 48,5
10 Radovanovic Mihajlo 6,5 47,0
11 Annaberdiev Meilis 6,5 45,0
12 Chakravarthi Reddy M 6,5 43,5
13 Nestorovic Lazar 6,5 41,5
14 Smith Bryan 6,5 38,0
15 Abramovic Bosko 6,0 47,5
16 Zajic Milan 6,0 47,0
17 Kourkoulos-Arditis Stamatis 6,0 46,5
18 Blagojevic Dragisa 6,0 46,0
19 Jacimovic Dragoljub 6,0 45,5
20 Saraci Nderim 6,0 43,0
21 Petrov Martin 6,0 43,0
22 Megalios Konstantinos 6,0 42,5
23 Dimic Pavle 6,0 42,5
24 Todorovic Goran M 6,0 42,0
25 Todorovic Goran N 6,0 42,0

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A former university lecturer in Romance philology, she is currently a painter as well as a chess journalist, and reports regularly from the international tournament scene.


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