Canberra Times, July 8
One of the strangest features of the prison in the Hague to which Slobodan Milosevic was extradited last week, is that war criminals from Yugoslavia's three main ethnic groups are mixed together.
The Serbian, Croatian and Muslim defendants in The Hague, supposedly mortal enemies, apparently socialise well. Reports have emerged of former foes enjoying friendly competition in prison chess tournaments, organised by the inmates.
With chess enjoying an important cultural position in the former Yugoslavia, such reports are not surprising. However chess has been hit hard by the last 10 years of upheaval, especially in Milosevic's Serbia.
The emergence of promising young Serbian players has almost dried up in the last decade, with even 1994 World Junior Champion Igor Miladinovic changing his allegiance to Greece within two years of his title success.
In the 1980s Serbia used to organise a dozen or more Grandmaster tournaments each year.
In 2001, while all the other former Yugoslav republics have been able to host top class tournaments, Serbia has been holding 'Third Saturday' events.
However the June 'TS' event, which concluded last week in Belgrade, was a Grandmaster tournament in name only.
With no prizemoney at stake, a third of the tournament's 66 games were agreed drawn in 10 moves or less, with Grandmasters Simic and Pavlovic struggling past move 15 in only three of their 11 games. Experience would suggest that some of these short draws were 'played' over the breakfast table rather than in the tournament hall.
When forced to play, for example against Finland's ambitious 21-year-old Heikki Kallio, the GMs performed poorly and by the conclusion of the tournament all four GMs could be found near the bottom of the crosstable.
It is a worrying thought that better fighting chess might have been played at the War Crimes prison in the Hague than in Belgrade. In any case, if the 'TS' tournaments are the best that Serbia can offer, chess' demise as a popular sport in Serbia is highly probable.
Over the past fortnight Canberra's Ian Rout has enjoyed success at two consecutive Grand Prix tournaments in Queensland. Rout tied for first in the Gold Coast Open and followed with fifth place at the Suncoast Open in Noosa. Rout's best win was probably the following last round upset.
2001 Gold Coast Open
1.Nf3 d5 2.d4 Nf6 3.c4 c6 4.Nc3 e6 5.e3 Nbd7 6.Qc2 Bd6 7.Be2 dxc4 8.a4!? 0-0 9.Bxc4 e5 10.0-0 Qe7 11.Bb3 e4!? 12.Ng5 Bxh2+! 13.Kxh2 Ng4+ 14.Kg1 Qxg5 15.Qxe4 Ndf6 16.Qf3 Be6 17.Bc2 Rad8?!
After 17...Bc4 18.Rd1 Qh4 Black has little to fear.
18.g3 Bc4 19.Rd1 h5 20.e4 Qa5 21.Bf4 Qb6 22.b3! Be6 23.a5 Qb4 24.d5 cxd5 25.exd5 Bc8 26.Bc7 Rde8 27.Ra4 Qc5 28.Rc4 Qe7 29.Kg2?!
White should keep up the pressure with 29.Ne4!.
29...Ne5 30.Bxe5 Qxe5 31.Qd3 g6 32.b4
32.Qd4 was safer.
32...h4! 33.Rxh4 Bf5 34.Qd2 Bxc2 35.Qxc2 Rc8 36.Qd2?
Panic. After 36.Rhd4! Nxd5 37.Rxd5 Qxc3 38.Qxc3 Rxc3 39.Rd7 Rb8 40.Re7 White is still on top.
36...Rxc3 37.Rdh1 Nh5 38.Re1 Qf6 39.d6 Rd8 40.Rhe4 Rxd6 41.Qh6 Re6! 0-1