Sunday March 1, 2015 Search
Weather | Athens
11o C
6o C
News
Business
Comment
Life
Sports
Community
Survival Guide
Greek Edition
Greece's unsung chess heroes aim for the top in Norway

By Costas Onisenko

The Panellinion cafe on the corner of Mavromichali and Solonos streets in the central Athenian district of Exarchia is an unassuming kind of place, much like any other neighborhood watering hole that serves Greek coffee mostly to local seniors reading their newspapers and clacking their strings of beads. It doesn't have an espresso machine or music, yet it does draw a younger clientele too. Almost all of the cafe's patrons share a passion for chess. Boards are laid out on most tables and many of the regulars are players, some more experienced than others.

While other coffee shops and bars spent the first half of the summer screening World Cup matches from Brazil, talk at the Panellinion these days revolves around the 41st Chess Olympiad in Tromso, Norway, which runs through August 15.

Five men and five women are representing Greece at the international tournament, among them a teenager, Stavroula Tsolakidou, from Kavala in northern Greece, who won the world title in the girls under-14 category in the United Arab Emirates last year. Some may argue that chess, the ultimate game of logic, is not well suited to the Greek temperament, yet the success of local players tells a different story.

There are some 200 active chess clubs in Greece and around 30,000 registered players. In fact, the country ranks 25th in the world in the men's category and 28th in the women's, boasting 12 grandmasters and 17 international masters among the men, as well as three female grandmasters and six female international masters, explains Tania Karali, a member of the board of the Hellenic Chess Federation and an arbiter.

“This is what it's about. We sit high in the international rankings because of our talent and despite the fact that the sport is almost entirely overlooked by the state,” player Vassilis Paraskevaidis, a regular at the Panellinion cafe, tells Kathimerini. “It is characteristic of our general attitude: We make an enormous effort and often outdo ourselves, but we lack method. This is something we need as a country in the current circumstances – using absolute logic.

“Chess helps develop a rational character and way of thinking, something that is necessary for every citizen of a modern state,” adds Paraskevaidis. “It is like life; it rewards hard work and method, and punishes thoughtless acts and mistakes. If the powers that be had any understanding of the character-building qualities of chess, the state would have done more to help the game develop.”

According to the vice president of the chess federation, Stathis Efstathopoulos, state support for the sport has been slashed from 850,000 euros per year to 150,000 euros – barely enough to cover operational costs. Some of the expense involved in sending players to tournaments abroad is covered by private sponsorships, while the players often have to pay their own way.

ekathimerini.com , Thursday August 7, 2014 (17:54)  
Spanoulis leads Olympiakos to win over Malaga
Ten-man Olympiakos couldn´t overcome Dnipro
Greens lose at Maccabi but preserve head-to-head advantage
Panathinaikos deducted the three points earned at the derby
Spanish PM hits back at Greek accusation of anti-Athens ´axis´
Spain's centre-right Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy hit back on Sunday against accusations from Greece's leftist premier that Spain and Portugal had led a conservative conspiracy to topple his...
Greece´s lenders skeptical on new bills but focus on funding needs
European officials have expressed concern that the Greek government has not consulted with its partners over its plans to bring new legislation to Parliament this week but the greatest focus...
Inside News
Schaeuble softens tone, says Greece ´needs time´
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said Sunday Greece's new government needs «a bit of time» but is committed to implementing necessary reforms to resolve its debt crisis. "The new G...
Greece to prioritize IMF repayments but wants talks on ECB-held bonds, says Varoufakis
Greece will prioritize debt repayments to the International Monetary Fund, some of which come due in March, but repayments to the European Central Bank are «in a different league» and will n...
Inside Business
COMMENTARY
A unionist agenda
Maybe Greece will not experience a credit event, “because it is in no one’s interest,” as Minister of State for Coordinating Government Operations Alekos Flambouraris recently assured. Maybe...
EDITORIAL
The beguiling limelight
Too much media exposure is never a good thing and there is no shortage of newcomers in politics who are beguiled by the limelight. What usually comes after this thrall of publicity is the in...
Inside Comment
SPONSORED LINK: FinanzNachrichten.de
SPONSORED LINK: BestPrice.gr
 RECENT NEWS
1. Spanish PM hits back at Greek accusation of anti-Athens ´axis´
2. Schaeuble softens tone, says Greece ´needs time´
3. Greece to prioritize IMF repayments but wants talks on ECB-held bonds, says Varoufakis
4. Greece´s lenders skeptical on new bills but focus on funding needs
5. Lenders to be consulted over collective bargaining
6. Alleged accomplices of N17´s Xeros caught in Athens
more news
Today
This Week
1. Greece's lenders skeptical on new bills but focus on funding needs
2. Schaeuble softens tone, says Greece 'needs time'
3. Greece to prioritize IMF repayments but wants talks on ECB-held bonds, says Varoufakis
4. Lenders to be consulted over collective bargaining
5. Spanish PM hits back at Greek accusation of anti-Athens 'axis'
6. Greece seeks negotiations on ECB bond repayment
Today
This Week
1. Time for Alexis Tsipras to keep his nerve
2. Greek bailout deal faces review by euro officials next week
3. A fierce battle looms
4. The ignorance of the West about the culture of Islam
5. Greece says eurozone deal won time as cash bled from banks
6. Spain said to lead push to hold Greece to terms as Podemos grows
   Find us ...
  ... on
Twitter
     ... on Facebook   
About us  |  Subscriptions  |  Advertising  |  Contact us  |  Athens Plus  |  RSS  |   
Copyright © 2015, H KAΘHMEPINH All Rights Reserved.