SPRAGGETT ON CHESS
The much anticipated World Chess Championship match between title holder V.Anand (India) and challenger V.Topalov (Bulgaria) is about to kick off next month. Preparations seem well ahead of what would be expected (given recent models involving FIDE) and already the official website (in both English and Bulgarian) is up and running. Lots of interesting information, photos and interviews can be found there.
Anand and Topalov will play in the Central Military Club
The most attractive building in Sofia for generals, actors and even folk singers in undoubtedly that of the Central Military Club. It is one of the the first monumental public buildings after the Liberation of Bulgaria from Ottoman occupation. It gathers for various events people of all ages and character – be it a fashion review or celebrating Astronaut’s Day. On busy days are held between 7 and 11 events. In some occasions like Proms or Christmas celebrations the figures get to 150-200 a month.
The Club changes its name several times. With a Decree of the Parliament, the Sofia Officers’ Council is renamed in 1948 to Central House of People’s Troops (later changed to Army). After the transition to democracy in 1991 it becomes Central Military Club.
‘Last New Year’s Eve was so crowded that a pin wouldn’t fall on the ground, but this one will be different’ says a Club employe. This year there were no parties in the emblematic building as it was renovated and the work were completed a few days ago.
“Before 9 September 1944 here were held meetings with the Tzar. The officers celebrated with Vienna balls. This is one of the five buildings that mark the center of Sofia and is of great historical and architectural value’, sheds some light behind the curtain of history the military official.
All starts with a decree in the distant 1894. Tzar Ferdinand proclaims a special law, which yields the land and the buildings in front of the Palace for a building of Sofia Military Officers’ Council. Construction begins the next year after a project by the main architect of Sofia at that moment – the Czech Antonin Kolar – in Neo-Renaissance style. 180 000 golden levs are paid for the land for a period of 3 years. In 1898 the Bulgarian architect Nikola Lazarov takes over the works and completes it in 1907. The interior decorations are made by the Vienna master Greiss and Marin Vasilev. The three floors are with allocation characteristic for club buildings of late XIX century and are separated according to their functions.
Yet with its grand opening, the Club turns into the entertainment center for the elite.
This is the place where the Bulagarian theater and opera were found. The legend says the the Tzar preferred to spend his time in the Club rather than in the Palace. The monarch had his own box with a WC and room to rest. Through a secret door on the second floor admitted visitors – rumor says most of them were female. After 1944 his box was demolished and turned into a storage but today it is fully restored.
The Military Club is renovated for first time since 1907 in 2006. Special order of materials are made, in order to achieve an authentic view. All halls have access to internet and the possibility for conference connection.
The building of the Central Military Club is proclaimed for architectural and artistic monument of culture with national value. It grabs the attention not only by its imposing facade, a reminder of past epochs, but as well with its incredible interior. The staircase is tiled with black Italian marble intertwined with silver linings. Even in the inlaid floor there is symbolic – it has the markings of tzar’s St. George’s cross, and the Baroque concert hall is unlike any other in the capitol. It seats 500 spectators while at 4.5 meters height shines a heavy chandelier with 48 000 ‘Swarovski’ crystals.
The unique sound is achieved by built in the walls acoustic pots. It is no coincidence that here sang famous artists as Lili Ivanova, Margarita Hranova, Yordanka Hristova, Biserovi sisters, ‘Tonica’; Veselin Topalov made exhibitions of simultaneous chess games; Dimitar Berbatov deliver award on behalf of his foundation; TV ‘Fan’ gathered douzens of pop folk singers for its awards.
Long time ago in this very Concert Hall were guests celebrities as the Russian opera singer Fyodor Shalyapin, the Bulgarian soprano Christina Morfova, the bass Nikolay Gyaurov and the actor Krustyo Sarafov.
The Official Hall is mainly use for press conferences and official meetings. The Music Hall and ‘Gallery’ Hall are mainly used for art exhibitions.
Besides the official events, promotions, reviews, auctions and weddings, the building is a favoured place to relax after a hard day. There are three entertaining facilities that rent Club’s territory – the clubs ‘Chervilo’ (‘Lipstick’) and ‘Black Label’ and pizzeria ‘Victoria’.
The entrance to ‘Chervilo’ is on the ground floor of the Central Army Library. Over 130 000 volumes are kept in that library, which was decorated with ‘Cyril and Methodius’ 2nd degree for its importance as army cultural center.
The very place of the Military Club – at the crossroad of ‘G.S.Rakovski’ and ‘Tzar Osvoboditel’, makes it a center of cultural value. In the vicinity are situated the Russian Church, the memorial temple ‘St. Alexander Nevsky’, the central building of the Bulgarian Academy, the Parliament and many theaters.
(from the official website)
The Anand delegation’s hotel: Hilton Sofia
The Topalov delegation’s hotel: Grand Hotel Sofia
Svetla Nestorova: ”My husband and I are both chess fans”
Bulstrad Vienna Insurance Life JSC is the official insurer of Anand – Topalov Match.
What are the benefits of the company from this support?
For us the support of the international chess tournament is another way to show that we are ready to take responsibility for peace and security of our clients, to enable them chance to concentrate on those areas of life which are important for them.
What do you think is the common between chess and business in general?
In chess and business it’s good to follow the well-considered and planned strategy which will lead to achieving the desired positive results. The ultimate goal is also comparable – stable success and upward development in a long term.
Are you a fan of the ancient game?
I am a big fan of chess and watch all the interesting events from the world of chess as a whole. My husband is also a lover of this wonderful game.
According to you, what is the most valuable thing to be insured?
If we talk specifically for the chess players, the most valuable in intangible plan is the intellectual potential of the players. Ensuring their protection, peace and security, we strive to give them the opportunity to concentrate on the game and reach their maximum capabilities on the chess board. If we talk about life insurance in general, our goal is to support Bulgarian citizens and ensure them alternatives to improve their own security situation, to plan calmly their future and to be able to continue forward if something unexpected happens.
_________________________________________________________________________WHO WILL WIN?
Both players have met over the board approximately 100 times (including classical and rapid chess formats) and the score is approximately even. My personal view as a chess fan is that when two players meet more than 100 times for a match, what is at stake is more about setting a world record than about disputing a world championship!
However, I think this duel has extra importance in that FIDE will finally be able to have a stable world championship structure in place (for the first time in 15 years !) and that the whole world will be able to recognize a legitimate champion decided by a legitimate and democtratic contest.
That being said, personally, I expect two things: first, that the match be very exciting and eventful; and second, that the Bulgarian Topalov be a convincing winner.
THE DANAILOV FACTOR
Silvio Danailov, Topalov’s manager, is something of a loose cannon. His vision of chess is condemned by most grandmasters as little more than cheap theatre and a fast path for his own personal enrichment.
In 2006 during the Topalov vs Kramnik world championship match, Danailov created a scandal , accusing Kramnik of cheating. No proof was ever presented nor evidence of such ever found. However, the integrity of the game was called into question (not to mention that of Kramnik, a Russian hero) but Danailov has never been prosecuted nor brought before FIDE’s ethics commission.
Recently as this week, Danailov has been stirring up more controversy while in Croatia, with veiled insinuations of lack of sporting ethic by the current world champion from India.
It remains to be seen if Danailov will be allowed ,by both Topalov and the Bulgarian government, to continue to make public declarations. The government has put up millions of dollars for this match, and any scandal involving Danailov’s inflamatory behaviour will be viewed very poorly by both the chess fraternity and the rest of the world.
However, to be completely honest, I think the court of public opinion has already decided that part of the allure of the Topalov vs Anand matchup is the unpredictability of Silvio Danailov. Did not the 1972 Fischer vs Spassky match (the greatest match in the history of any sport!) have similar accusations and cloak and dagger scenarios? Were not 2 flies found spying inside the chair of Boris Spassky? Were not the chairs of both players X-rayed looking for electronic devices?
I found a Romanian chess site that wrote a brief article on the upcoming match, and it ended with a youtube video of BURNING IN HELL. Will the match in Sophia end in flames, literally?
SPRAGGETT ON CHESS