Karpos Open under way in Macedonia

by Diana Mihajlova
4/2/2015 – With the so many events running, it would be easy to overlook the lovely Karpos Open, currently being held in Skopje, Macedonia, but it shouldn't considering the excellent conditions, held in a five-star hotel, and generous prize fund that has attracted 98 titled players of whom 33 are GMs ready to fight for their spot in the sun. An illustrated report by Diana Mihajlova

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The fifth edition of the Karpos Open currently unfolds in Skopje, the capital of Macedonia. Over the last five years, it has welcomed distinguished players from over forty federations, but has remained somewhat hidden from the chess news on a higher scale. However, considering the € 16 000 Prize fund, it is among the most prestigious Open tournaments in Europe. Of course, with the exclusion of the Aeroflot and Gibraltar, but leaving behind, for example, Reykjavik, who’s prize fund is € 15,000, although their sums are distributed differently. Reykjavik has reserved € 5,000 as 1st prize, while the Karpos Open gives € 2,500 to the winner, plus 20 prizes not to mention women, senior, junior and several category prizes.

Last year’s prize fund was € 25,000, with a € 5,000 first prize. This year it was slashed to a still respectable € 16,000 because of a chess related reason: the organizers and sponsors felt the need to compromise in order to balance better the organisation of another great event to take place in Skopje this year - the European Club Cup 2015 which will be held 17 – 25 October.

Not up-to-date on where Macedonia is? Brush up here.

One of the directors of the tournament, IM Marjan Mitkov, laments the fact that Aeroflot this year clashes directly with Karpos Open. A great number of the participants at the Aeroflot were playing at Karpos last year and were expected back this year.

None the less, 234 players, 98 titled of whom 33 grandmasters, from 25 chess federations landed in Skopje, the capital of the Republic of Macedonia, for the fifth edition of the Karpos Open 2015, which takes place from 27 March to 3 April. It is a nine-round Swiss with a time control of 90 minutes for 40 moves and 30 minutes till the end of the game with 30 sec. increment from the first move.

The tournament organisation is in the hands of Macedonian international masters Zoran Stojcevski and Marjan Mitkov, assisted by Mitkov’s wife, Keri.

Zoran Marjan and Keri in front of the huge tournaments banner in the playing hall

The five-star hotel Alexander Palace is the host of the Karpos Open

The playing hall is spacious, elegant and comfortable

Marjan in consultation with FIDE arbiters Sasko Lakinski and Kire Nikolovski

By the fifth round, GM Zdenko Kozul from Croatia had a perfect 5.0/5 score, followed by GMs Vladislav Tkachiev (FRA), Murtas Kazhgaleyev (KAZ), Ivan Ivanisevic (SRB), Robert Markus (SRB), Alexander Fier (BRA) and Kiril Georgiev (BUL) all at 4.5/5.

GM Zdenko Kozul from Croatia seeks to repeat his success of 2012 when he was on the podium

GM Vladislav Tkachiev also shares thought-provoking articles and interviews on his chess blog

GM Ivan Ivanisevic, the top Serbian GM; at 2638 he is the tournament's highest seed

GM Robert Markus, the Serbian grandmaster of Hungarian background
was the winner of the first edition in 2011

Alexander Fier from Brazil, has been cruising the European Opens lately. He reached Skopje
following the tournaments in Capelle-La-Grande and Reykjavik. Whenever possible, his wife
WGM Nino Maisuradze is also playing, but she is not in Skopje. Their young son is imposing
his own timetable when it comes to his chess parents’ playing schedule.

Kiril Georgiev from Bulgaria won the Karpos Open twice, in 2012 and in 2014

GM Branko Damljanovic (SRB) vs FM Dejan Dinev (MKD)

The Kazakhs: GM Murtas Kazhgaleyev, WGM Dinara Saduakassova and IM Ayan Akhmetov.
I met Murtas first in Paris where he was a winner of the Paris Championship. After a spell
in his native Kazakhstan, he moved to Tashkent (Uzbekistan), where he feels ’life is better’.

GM Martin Kraemer (GER)

Siblings from Russia, Dmitry and Olga Minko returned to the Karpos Open a second time

The Italians: IM Marco Codenotti and GM Daniele Vocaturo

GM Dragan Kosic (MNE)

GM Tamir Nabaty (ISR)

IM Santiago Yago De Moura (BRA)

Ari Sakainen (FIN)

WIM Svetla Yordanova (BLG)

Polish IMs: Arkadiusz Leniart and Krystian Kuzmicz

Bojana Bejatovic (MKD) and Maja Milanovic (SRB)

GM Robert Zelcic (CRO)

At a dinner party of typical Macedonian dishes at the restaurant ’Macedonian House’

The Turkish Federation regularly sponsors a number of players to participate at the Karpos Open. This year there is a delegation of about 40 Turkish players. Every year they manage to leave with several of them having earned a norm, and that is the main attraction and a reason for their returning numerous at this tournament packed with titled players.

Jovial Turkish players at the dinner party: (from left), Onur Ozdiker, the
leader of the Turkish delegation, Cagatay Burcu and Demre Kerigan whose
IM norm is due to be made official this April.

Karpos Open is a result of a fruitful co-operation between the members of a chess club, Gambit Asseco, the club’s sponsors, Assecco SEE, a banking software company operating predominantly in the South East Europe and Mr Stevco Jakimovski, the mayor of Karpos, the biggest and most affluent municipality of Skopje.

Mr Stevco Jakimovski, the mayor of Karpos addresses the present at the opening of the
fifth edition of the Karpos Open

This symbiosis of chess players, a financial company and a political/civil support gave birth to a very active chess corner in this part of Europe. The Karpos Open is becoming one of the most attractive international Open tournaments; several weekend tournaments became a regular feature as well with the Christmas weekend tournament being the most important, carrying a € 2000 prize fund for rapid games and attracting more than 150 players in the latest edition; the Karpos Asseco club is being funded for its participation at the European and World Club championships. But, most importantly, the youngest are being given a very special place. A chess school, run by the Gambit Asseco club, with trainers international masters Marjan Mitkov and Orce Dancevski, has about 30 regular students.

The Karpos municipality and its mayor have established a fund for a yearly stipend for the most successful chess players from its schools. One of the recipients of the chess stipend is Ivana Manova. Ivana is a reigning champion in her age category (U-14, girls). At last year’s Olympiad in Tromso, she had earned the honor of playing on the Macedonian Olympic women’s team, scoring 2.0/5.

Ivana Manova (1618) playing at the 2015 Karpos Open, in the second round won against
the much higher-rated WIM Velickovski-Nejkovic Maja (2016) from Serbia

At the inception of their chess activities, in 2011, Alexandra Kosteniuk accepted a three-day
visit to Skopje in order to boost further the chess development in Macedonia giving lectures,
simultaneous exhibitions and promoting chess in schools. She chronicled her working visit in
two articles on her site, Day One and Day Two.

A postcard of Skopje

A statue and a museum dedicated to the Macedonian humanitarian and winner of the
Nobel Prize for Peace, Mother Teresa

Photos by Diana Mihajlova and Misko Tutkovski


The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server Playchess.com. If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 13 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.

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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