“It is a great pleasure to declare closed the First Chess Tournament for Diplomats and to present the prize to the winner. I hope this event will start a tradition, just as the other tournaments that the Ministry organises. Let the battles we engage in be confined to the chessboard.” Deputy Prime Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva said this, addressing the entrants in the First Chess Tournament for Diplomats for the Cup of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Bulgaria. Eighteen competitors from 11 countries, representing foreign embassies accredited to this country, as well as Foreign Ministry staff, tried their strength against each other during this first edition of the event.
At the awards ceremony, the Deputy Prime Minister presented the Cup to the winner, Samuel Michelson of the US Embassy in Sofia. Vladimir Danchev, former member of the diplomatic service, and to Štefan Čechovič of the Slovak mission, who placed second and third, respectively, received their prizes from Youth and Sports Minister Krasen Kralev and Bulgarian World Chess Champion Antoaneta Stefanova. Apart from the prizes for the top three, medals were handed to the rest of the participants in the competition.
Ekaterina Zaharieva said further that, speaking from her personal experience, she was perfectly well aware that sports event of this kind provide an excellent opportunity to make friends and establish contacts. “This is a real feast day for diplomats,” she added.
The tournament was opened by Deputy Minister Yuri Sterk, who joined the fray. In his welcoming speech he quoted grand master David Bronstein: what really matters in chess is not whether you are winning or losing but to enjoy playing. Dr Ruslan Toshev, Co-Chairman of the Bulgarian Chess Federation (1928), was invited in an official capacity.
The first symbolic move in the tournament was made by grand master Margarita Voiska.
The event was held in connection with the Bulgarian Presidency of the EU Council and was dedicated to Europe Day, 9 May. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is planning to make the chess tournament yet another traditional competition for the Cup of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, like the ones in tennis, golf and skiing.
At the same time, the Ambassadors’ League 2018 Football Tournament took place under the auspices of Minister Zaharieva. By that event the organisers of the UN Association of Bulgaria marked the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
In a greetings address that Minister Zaharieva sent to the organisers and participants in the football tournament, she recalled that recent years have seen an ever clearer awareness of the role of sports as a means of promoting key values like tolerance and mutual understanding that can bring people and states closer together. “One recent example of this was the PyeongChang Olympics, where the delegations of North and South Korea marched under one flag,” the Minister’s address reads.
The participants included teams of the diplomatic missions of the Republic of Turkey, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Republic of the Sudan, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Turkish team won the trophy for a second year running.