Following the delegation of ICCD Board member Dragan Moldovanovic (Serbia) for the promotion of the Balkan Countries as well as Albania and Greece in 2018, the ICCD President took a two week vacation after the conclusion of the European Chess Individual Championships at Lviv, exploring the potential of the four countries – Kosovo, Macedonia, Albania and Montenegro. And here is a brief report of his fact finding mission with a few photos:
On arrival at Pristina Airport, the ICCD President was warmly greeted by the Kosovo Deaf Sports Association President, Bujar Bejtullahu, who proved to be an excellent host. We visit the office of the Kosovo Deaf Association where Bujar was presented with a certificate confirming Kosovo’s membership to the ICCD as seen below:
The ICCD President presenting the ICCD Membership certificate to the Kosovo Sports President, Bujar Bejtullahu.
The National Champion of Kosovo, Hilmi Dervishi.
There was an opportunity of meeting the Kosovo Deaf National Chess Champion since 2004, Hilmi Dervishi; he had been competing in several hearing tournaments over the years. It is hoped that Kosovo will feature in the ICCD World Deaf Chess Championships at Estonia 2020.
On arrival in Skopje where we were overwhelmed by several enormous statues, the hospitality provided by the President and Assistant President of Skopje Deaf Sports Club was superb. At the conclusion of the sightseeing tour around the city, there was an interesting discussion on the possibility of setting up a chess club with the aim towards Amsterdam 2021. The Macedonians were quietly positive that they would integrate chess within their sports programme. The signs were indeed encouraging.
This was the only country when we had the opportunity of meeting up with the officials of the Albanian Chess Federation at their brand new premises (the National Olympic Centre). The President was accompanied with a sports enthusiast, Fabjo Hysi, who had offered to start the ball rolling towards Albania joining the ICSC. The hearing counterparts were intrigued when we mentioned a very strong deaf chess player in the name of Theodhor Shella, now residing in the United States, and an Albanian female chess player whom we had met at the Baku 2016 FIDE Olympiad; she has a deaf relative from England. Fabjol was presented with a chess set and board as well as a coaching book which was an excellent token of gratitude from the Albanian Chess Federation.
The General Secretary of the Albania Chess Federation, Majlinda Pilinci, presenting Fabjo Hysi with some chess equipment towards launching a deaf chess club in Tirana.
The ICCD President was warmly welcomed by the Deaf Sport President, Darko Mijiskovic, who introduced us to his small circle of friends. Alas, the summer season saw the deaf club closed with its members holidaying by the coast hence we did not have the chance of promoting the game of chess. But it was mentioned that chess is often played at the Kotor Deaf Club among small circles.
Overall it was an interesting insight on how the game of deaf chess can be promoted in the former Yugoslav countries – it is optimistic that Belgrade (Serbia) will host a chess festival around May 2020 with Bosnia, Slovenia, Croatia joining in the festivities. Bosnia are in the preliminary stages of applying for ICCD membership.
Phillip K. Gardner, 7th ICCD President