Bulgaria’s “Shining Rose” Nurgyul Salimova won Second Place at the World Chess Cup

Sports | August 21, 2023, Monday // 17:26
Bulgaria: Bulgaria’s “Shining Rose” Nurgyul Salimova won Second Place at the World Chess Cup Nurgyul Salimova

Nurgyul Salimova lost to Aleksandra Goryachkina in the second game of accelerated chess from the tiebreak of the World Chess Cup final in Baku. Thus, the 20-year-old Bulgarian with 1.5:2.5 points took the second place in the tournament, which is her biggest success.

The second tiebreak began with a denied queen' gambit passed to a Catalan opening. Already in the opening moves, Goryachkina managed to gain a pawn advantage, which turned out to be decisive in the endgame. In it, the Russian managed to make two passing pawns, and on the 105th move, playing with the black pieces, Nurgyul was forced to resign.

For her success, the Bulgarian chess player received 35 thousand dollars from the prize fund.

Qualifying for the final of the second edition of the World Chess Cup is the most significant achievement in the career of the 20-year-old graduate of Zivko Zhelev among women. On her way to it, the former U12 girls world champion overcame South Africa's Charlize van Zyl by 2:0 points, Poland's Oliwia Kiolbasa by 1.5:0.5 points, India's Mary Ann Gomes by 2:0 points, Medina Warda Aulia from Indonesia with 2.5:1.5 points, Polina Shuvalova from Russia with 3:1 points and Anna Muzychuk from Ukraine with 3.5:2.5 points.

By qualifying for the World Cup final, both Salimova and Goryachkina secured a spot in the world title contenders tournament. It will be held in Toronto from April 2 to 25, 2024.

Why was Nurgyul Salimova alone in Baku?

Along Nurgul Salimova's triumphant path at the World Cup in Baku, the leading theme in Bulgaria was that she was absolutely alone there, if you do not count the other three Bulgarian competitors, which already dropped out.

Salimova battled rivals who could rely on entire staffs - one or more coaches, analysts, psychologists...

The fact that the Bulgarian 20-year-old competitor was a "lone warrior" was announced by her coach Zhivko Zhekov in several interviews.

There are two reasons why the "shining rose" (that's what her name means in translation from Turkish) of Bulgarian chess - and not only her, had to rely to a large extent on her own funds and from sponsors: there is no money; there is no legitimate and officially recognized chess federation in the country.

The absurd situation was reached because of the timelessness in Bulgarian chess in recent years, which began during the reign of Silvio Danailov (2011-2017) and continues to this day. The then sports minister, in the person of Krasen Kralev, filed a lawsuit for unlawfully spent state funds in the period 2011-2014 - about 2 million leva.

In 2019, the Chess Federation (of Silvio Danailov) was sentenced to return 684,540 leva. And the legitimacy saga had already begun, since the organization had its license revoked, lawsuits were pending, other formations wanted to take control of the sport in Bulgaria, and the International Federation (FIDE) imposed a ban on the BCF and, accordingly, on Bulgarian competitors for championships and tournaments under its auspices.

At the end of last year, the Bulgarian Chess Federation 2022 (BCF 2022) applied for membership in FIDE, after the then acting Sports Minister Vesela Lecheva issued it a license. The head of the organization is Vasil Antonov, a former MP from the Bulgarian Socialist Party.

He was co-chairman of the Bulgarian Chess Federation 1928 (BCF 1928) together with Ruslan Toshev - a former MP from GERB. However, it remained without a license - revoked by the previous full-time Minister of Youth and Sports, Radostin Vassilev.

This, of course, is not all. As of today, five structures are arguing for legitimacy in Bulgarian chess. Apart from BCF 2022, the others are: BCF 1928 (now without Vasil Antonov), Bulgarian Chess Federation 64 (BCF 64), Chess Federation Bulgaria (CFB) and Bulgarian Chess Federation (BCF).

All of them have appealed Lecheva's decision to give the green signal to BCF 2022. Hence the complications.

Behind some of them are interesting pieces (not chess pieces). BCF 64 was founded by Tsveta Galunova, until recently an MP from the pro-Russian party "Vazrazhdane", and the well-known former world champion Antoaneta Stefanova, who was proposed for prime minister by the party "There Is Such a People".

The popular grandmaster Kiril Georgiev is behind the CFB. Ruslan Toshev is loyal to BCF 1928. International chess master Atanas Kurtenkov represents BCF.

Because of their protests, FIDE did not put Bulgaria back on the chess map by recognizing the BCF 2022 approved by Vesela Lecheva. And a new absurdity was reached - on April 4, the international federation ordered the creation of a temporary commission authorized to manage chess in Bulgaria until a unified structure is chosen and a new president as well.

Word of this development came at the beginning of July, when a unification meeting was to be held. However, it did not come to that - Vasil Antonov and BCF 2022 appealed to FIDE and the Ministry of Sports.

Because of all this, organized chess in Bulgaria is without funding in 2023. Purely by law, the ministry has no way to allocate funds to the BCF 2022, even after the license was issued by Lecheva. Last year's budget amounted to 100,000 leva. Everyone can answer for themselves the question of where this money went.

Thus, this year the Bulgarian national teams and the internal calendar are left to their own devices. An explanation was presented that the World Cup was a commercial tournament, so Bulgarian participants could not count on funding from the state, but this simply does not sound serious. In the ideal case - with an active federation and a budget, if not all, then at least part of the expenses can be covered, since the competitor in Baku represents Bulgaria, apart from themselves.

Zhivko Zhekov, Nurgyul's coach, explained to bTV that they found a sponsor who helped his athlete with the expenses of the first round of the World Cup. How it lasts only five days, and one night costs 120 dollars, including travel expenses. Subsequently, Salimova secured her own funds, which it was assumed that she would get from the prize fund.

All of this results the impossible task of having a headquarters for  Salimova and the other Bulgarian representatives. It's a good thing we're in the digital age - the competitors relied on help from Skype and other applications for debriefing and analysis. It is speculated that two foreign specialists helped the Bulgarian woman on the spot - it is unclear on what grounds, but the help was appreciated

Hopefully, after the masterful performance of Bulgaria's "shining rose" the state will finally do something about the sport and allow Bulgarian competitors to compete without the additional stress of not having funding.

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Tags: Salimova, chess, Bulgaria, Nurgyul

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