Article provided by: Ilia Hristov
There were some attempts to play chess by post in the 1920s and early 1930s, but no written games have survived. In 1940 three players from the Bulgarian National Team (OTB chess), Alexander Kiprov, Emil Karastoychev and Yury Benderev, organised a match-tournament among themselves, the games played by correspondence. So CC had been introduced to Bulgaria. After this first tournament, won by Al. Kiprov, some 18 years passed until CC could achieve wide popularity in the country. The main merit for that comes to the Shahmatna misl’ Magazine and to the editor in chief at that time Andrey Malchev.
The Shahmatna misl’ Magazine became the organiser of the first regular in correspondence chess events. A match had been carried out between a team of readers of the magazine, many of them taking their first steps in CC, and the editorial staff of the magazine; the first individual championships had been started and thematic tournaments had been introduced.
In 1948 a new Commission for Correspondence Chess was founded as part of the Bulgarian Chess Federation. This commission became the sole organiser of CC events in the country. In 1993, the Commission was changed to the Union of Correspondence Chess Players in Bulgaria (Sayuz na Korespondentnite Shahmatisti v Bulgaria), which is a fully independent organisation.
The first national individual championship took place in 1961. The winner was Dr. Georgi Popov, the strongest Bulgarian CC player. The next places were taken by the pioneers of Bulgarian correspondence chess Alexander Kiprov, Stefan Mechkarov and Emil Karastoychev.
Up to 2001, 37 national individual championships have been conducted. Only one player, Rumen Tashkov, has won the gold medal three times; three other players, Dobrotich Andreev, Konstantin Kostadinov and Ilja Hristov have won the title twice.
National team championships have been organised since 1991. The Vratsa team won the first three championships.
Many people have contributed to the development of correspondence chess in Bulgaria, but one of the most remarkable was Nikola Baharov. He was not a CC competitor but he devoted his life to the organisation, popularisation and development of CC in Bulgaria.
Correspondence chess in Bulgaria also owes very much to Alexander Kiprov, who was for many years President of our Union and Delegate to ICCF for Bulgaria. For his great contribution to the development of CC, A. Kiprov was awarded the “Bertl von Massow” Medal in Gold. Four other officers, Georgi Sapundjiev, Nikola Yuchormanski, Andrey Malchev and Stefan Sergiev have been awarded the “Bertl von Massow” Medal in Silver.
The Bulgarian correspondence chess players had their biggest achievement at the final of the VII CC Olympiad where the Bulgarian team took 2nd place and won silver medals. The players for the Bulgarian team were 1. Dr. Georgi Popov, 2. Dobrotich Andreev, 3. Alexander Kiprov, 4. Georgi Sapundjiev, 5. Dimitar Karapchanski and 6. Petko Angelov. Dr. Popov achieved the best score of 7 points out of 9 on board 1. In that event, he won against the then world champion Horst Rittner in a very beautiful game. D. Andreev and D. Karapchanski were also winners on their boards and received ICCF IM titles.
The Bulgarian team has played many international team matches, winning against the teams of France (twice), Austria, Italy, Cuba, Finland, Scotland.
Remarkable successes in individual tournaments were the second place of Dr. Popov in the Semifinal for World Championship 1961-1964, the second place of Mladen Gudjev in the Grandmaster Invitational Tournament “Simagin Memorial” 1988- 1992, and the second place of Nikolai Ninov in the Grandmaster Invitational Tournament “Lascurain Memorial” 1996 – 2000. All three players have been awarded the ICCF Grandmaster title. 12 other players are ICCF International Masters.
In 1990, in connection with the 50th anniversary of correspondence chess in Bulgaria, the Union of Correspondence Chess Players in Bulgaria organised two international CC tournaments. In 1994 an invitational tournament started, dedicated to Nikola Baharov.
50 Years Correspondence Chess in Bulgaria – GM group.
1. A.Mikhaylov (RUS) 11; 2. M. Gudjev (BLG) 10,5; 3. A. Volchok (UKR) 10,5; 4. G. Nesis (RUS) 9,5; 5. I. Morozov (RUS) 9,5; 6. I. Minkov (BLG) 9; 7. D. Karapchanski (BLG) 9; 8. D. Konjevic (YUG) 8,5; 9. V. Petrov (BLG) 7,5; 10. W. Schlachetka (GER) 7,5; 11. E. Janosi (HUN) 5,5; 12. B. Atanasov (BLG) 2,5; 13. S. Bauk (CRO) 2,5; 14. N. Yordanov (BLG) 1; 15. Y. Gelemerov (BLG) 1.
50 Years Correspondence Chess in Bulgaria – IM group.
1. I. Christov (BLG) 10,5; 2. K. Mosonyi (HUN) 10,5; 3. S. Sergiev (BLG) 10; 4. J. Kaltchev (BLG) 9,5; 5. T. Schmidt (GER) 8,5; 6. P. K. Petrov (BLG) 8,5; 7. D. Konjevic (YUG) 8; 8. S. Gubnitsky (UKR) 8; 9. D. Gerasimov (BLG) 8; 10. L. Parvanov (BLG) 7,5; 11. S. Dobsa (HUN) 6,5; 12. P. Darmogray (UKR) 4,5; 13. D. Godes (RUS) 2,5; 14. M. Shchebenyuk (RUS) 2,5; 15. V. Kosachki (BLG) 0.
Memorial Baharov IM group.
1. E. Werner (GER) 13; 2. S. Mladenov (BLG) 11; 3. S. Spasov (BLG) 9,5; 4. I. Firnhaber (GER) 9,5; 5. P. Darmogray (UKR) 8,5; 6. I. Popov (BLG) 8,5; 7. W. Sauermann (GER) 8,5; 8. S. Vankov (BLG) 8; 9. S. Sergiev (BLG) 6; 10. Dr. M. Milovanovic (YUG) 5,5; 11. R. Kolesnikov (UKR) 5; 12. T. Kirkov (BLG) 5; 13. L. Fotev (BLG) 4,5 14. P. Gandev (BLG) 2,5; 15. J. Pöcksteiner (OST) 0.