People and players in Miskolc

by ChessBase
5/31/2008 – Halftime at the rapid chess match in Miskolc, Hungary. A good time to step back and take a look at the players. Not just the ones moving the pieces, but those accompanying them. People in the background who made this exciting event possible. Who are responsible for it running smoothly. And those who make the journey to Miskolc to enjoy the chess. Impressions by Diana Mihajlova.

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Peter Leko vs Magnus Carlsen
in Miskolc, Hungary

The year’s most prestigious clash in Hungary is taking place in Miskolc, Hungary. Top Hungarian GM, Péter Lékó is playing eight rapid chess games against challenger, Magnus Carlsen of Norway.

The event takes place from May 28th to June 1st, with the games starting at 16:30h and 18:00h CEST (4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. local time, which is Central European Summer Time = GMT +2). The arbiter is WGM Zsuzsa Veröci, Head of Communication of the Hungarian Chess Federation.

The games can be watched live on the official site and on At the end of each day of play there is a short press conference of 10-15 minutes with both players.

People and players in Miskolc

Report and photos by Diana Mihajlova

The Mayor of Miskolc, Sandor Kali, juggles his many duties between his office and the Natioanl Theatre in Miskolc, the venue where the match Leko-Carlsen takes place. He came to oversee the start of the first round. This series is his brainchild and he wants to make sure that everything functions perfectly. He admits modestly: "Even though I know that we paid attention to every detail I am still a bit nervous." Talking to Mr Kali one cannot but be inspired by his energy and genuine desire to promote chess, culture and his city. His friendly manner and hospitality are exemplary. He talks with warmth and obvious enthusiasm and love for the city of Miskolc:

"Miskolc has a longstanding experience with staging sport events and cultural, particularly music festivals. The series 'Leko & …’, which is a five year project and will see Leko playing each year against a different opponent, came as a continuation to another series ‘Bartok &…’, an International Opera Festival which is already well established and renown internationally. Miskolc is basically a rural, industrial city but I want to make of it a cultural city. It has been said: ‘Culture builds a city’ and I want to add, together with sports. Actually, the whole idea came from Peter Muller, my good friend, who is a director and initiator of the world famous Sziget Music Festival in Budapest.

Chess has a long tradition in Miskolc and I would like to be able to apply what Max Euwe has said: ‘Chess is an intelligent play by intelligent people … in this intelligent city!’ I am aiming to make of Miskolc a capital of chess.

It is obviously good for marketing for Miskolc but for me it is most important that thousand children may play chess. In this respect the ‘Leko Chess School’ is a very dear project to me. The parents tell me that after a chess training session children behave in a much calmer manner and show more discipline. Every move has its consequence – that is important to learn early in life and hopefully chess will provide young generations with such lessons. Peter has a lot of engagements but whenever he manages to visit the school it gives the pupils impulse and enthusiasm. It is very important for them to see him in person.’ "

Do you perhaps envisage for the school to become international?

"We have not been thinking that far. For the time being it is mainly for the local children. But I will take that as your idea and, who knows, we might eventually try to do that."

Attila, the busy bee. All participants at the "Leko & …" event – protagonists, workers and guests – agree on one thing: that the event is a wonderful idea. The venue is excellent and the organization is impeccable and all involved are wonderfully hospitable. Attila Barva contributes greatly that this may be so. He can be found at every corner making sure that everything is running as smoothly as possible.

Szilvia Barva, Attila’s wife, is helping with distributing headphones to the numerous visitors, an indispensable item for an event of this type where the commentary is ever important. Szilvia is also an indefatigable photographer at the match.

Chess players from all over Hungary flock to Miskolc in order to follow their national hero’s games. The young FM Oliver Mihok traveled from Budapest to be able to watch the games live.

The Secretary of the Hungarian Chess Federation, Szolt Korpics, has many responsibilities, the most current being the forthcoming Hungarian Youth Championship in Balatonlelle. He is relieved that he may follow the match Leko-Carlsen only as a spectator.

A family affair. Brothers Krisztian and Patrik took to the match their parents so that they may teach them a think or two about chess.

Krisztian and Patrik are joined by their school mates Balazs and Levente. They are all pupils at the Leko Chess School.

Augustin is also a pupil at the Leko Chess School. His mother does not play chess but she patiently accompanies her son to every match.

Pupils from the Leko Chess School with their trainers IM Gyula Meszaros (second row, second from left), Zoltan Zambo (second row, third form left) and Attila Vanczak (second row, far right). Gyula Meszaros said that currently the school has about eighty students but that their number is expected to rise to100 which would be overstretching the school’s capacity.

IM Tamas Erdelyi’s traveling bookshop is a regular feature in the corridors of many tournaments. To the already huge selection of high quality chess books his publishing house "Caissa" lately added a very popular series of booklets containing the best games of some of the most prominent chess players called "The Chess Grates of the World". There are already ten books in this series including Fisher, Morphy, Capablanca, Judit Polgar, Kasparov, Topalov, Korchnoi, Kramnik, Leko and Anand. Tamas has carefully timed the publication of a booklet containing the best games of Magnus Carlsen to coincide with the current event in Miskolc.

GM Zoltan Gyimesi and IM Gyula Meszaros provide the audience with live audio commentary. They occupy the projection room in the theater from where they register and comment carefully on every move played down on the stage.

Father and son, Henrik and Magnus Carlsen. All eyes are on Magnus but his father Henrik plays a prominent role in the professional life of our chess wunderkind. He is his son’s constant shadow: caring for him, protecting and encouraging him and… rightfully taking pride in his successes. He is Magnus’ father but also his secretary, manager, personal assistant and his best friend.

Sophie Leko has also a very important role to play in the professional life of one of the most successful chess players of today. She is embracing full heartedly the "full time job", accompanying her husband to the numerous tournaments worldwide. Ever smiling and engaging in friendly, meaningful conversations, she is a delight to be around.

BMWs and four obliging drivers from the Mayor’s office have been made available to participants and accompanying personnel and crew throughout the event.

About the author

Diana Mihajlova is a chess player and artist who has been exhibiting internationally (under the name Yana Mitra) since 1988. She was born in Macedonia (former Yugoslavia). A linguist by profession she has started her working career as a university lecturer, which took her to extensive studying and working sojourns in various countries around the world. In 1989 after finishing a three-year lecturing contract in Perth, Australia, she decided to abandon her academic career and to dedicate herself to a full-time painting while still free-lancing in the languages field. She first started exhibiting while still in Australia where after winning some important national art prizes her work received a quick recognition and was included in important exhibitions and collections. After her return to Europe she continued her painting career by exhibiting in galleries in Paris, where she lived the following two years. Since 1993 she settled in London where she currently lives and works. You can see her paintings at the Yana Mitra web site.



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