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Around Slovakia

Chess on a global scale
Castle goes for Sk55 million
Dummy policemen guard Lučenec
27 drug hauls in 2004
Down by the sea in Piešťany


ONE more move and I take your king.
photo: SME - Ján Krošlák

Bátka
Chess on a global scale

INVENTOR János Borbely from the Slovak village of Bátka has moved the game of chess into a new dimension.
Borbely developed his idea because the classical chess game as we know it limits advanced players. His idea was to create a 3D chess game using a magnetic ball.
He patented his invention in 2004 and was also awarded the main prize at the prestigious inventors competition, Genius Europe, held in Budapest, according to the daily SME.
The chessboard, which looks like a globe, is being exhibited in the SNP Museum in Banská Bystrica as part of an exhibition called Scientific Toys.
"This game requires much greater concentration and more experience than the classical chess game. The player must be able to see and think in 3D because physically he can only see half of the playing area. However, playing chess on this board offers many more possibilities," Borbely told SME.
Borbely said that he has managed to overcome the negative attributes of the classical chessboard, which limits the movement of play at the corners of the board.
"The possibilities of the round chess board and movements in endless rows and lines expand the limits of our thinking. Still more new variations are being discovered, which are sometimes quite surprising," he said.
Borbely said that the 3D chessboard has excited many professional players.


Halič
Castle goes for Sk55 million

A PRECIOUS renaissance castle in Halič, built in 1612 and listed as an official Slovak cultural sight, will soon be sold into private hands and turned into a five star hotel.
According to the Pravda daily, an unnamed company from the central Slovak city of Banská Bystrica has offered Sk55 million (€1.4 million) for the castle, which was evaluated at Sk43.6 million (€1.1 million) by specialist appraisal.
The castle's current owner, the Banská Bystrica regional authority (BBSK) put it up for a tender in which three companies took part.
BBSK deputy chairman Peter Csúsz confirmed that the winner offered Sk55 million (€1.37 million), adding that another company, based in Košice, had offered Sk48 million (€1.2 million) and the third competitor just Sk24 million (€619,000).
All of the competitors wanted to use the castle for tourism as well as cultural purposes.
"At a meeting held at the end of last year the (BBSK) MPs agreed to sell the castle to the bidder who offered the highest price but who also provided adequate bank securities," Csúsz told Pravda.
The head of BBSK was expected to prepare the purchasing contract by January 20, which is due to be signed by the end of this month.
"Usually, once the contract is signed, the new owner should pay the money to the party selling within 30 days. If the company backs away from the contract or should the company fail to comply with the contract's clauses, we would offer the castle to the second best competitor," said Csúsz.
According to Pravda, the new buyer plans to invest between Sk500 million (€12.9 million) and Sk1 billion (€25.8 million) in the project. Before the deal is concluded, however, the Culture Ministry must also approve the sale.
"If the plans work out well, the whole micro region will rise and new jobs will be created too," said Csúsz.
Halič mayor Vladimír Rehanek also welcomes the decision to sell the castle but is more cautious when commenting on the investor's plans.
In the past there have been several attempts to sell the castle but for various reasons the deals fell through.


Lučenec
Dummy policemen guard Lučenec

SIX dummy policemen have helped improve traffic conditions in the Central Slovak town of Lučenec, where they are guarding roads children often cross on their way to school. The life-size models cost the town Sk67,000 (€1,700).
"We put them out on January 10 and so far the idea seems to have worked," said Milan Pješčák, the head of the town police in Lučenec. "When drivers see our dummies they slow down, put on their seat belts and put away their phones. The fake police officers have a strong psychological effect on drivers."
Unfortunately, vandals attacked one of the dummies with paint. The police are not able to protect them 24 hours per day and so they have decided to put their "new colleagues" into storage from Friday evening to Monday morning.
Police chief Pješčák pointed out that there are many discos at the weekend and a lot of alcohol is consumed.


Slovakia
27 drug hauls in 2004

THE Slovak Customs Office recorded 27 instances of drug and hallucinogenic substance confiscation in 2004.
One of the most important cases involved illegally imported ephedrine, which was then used to make pervitin (metho-amphetamine) and distributed across Slovakia and abroad, according to the SITA news agency.
Police and customs officers got wind of the illegal trafficking and drug production in July 2004. Later they found that some of the organized group members were trading in illicit alcohol and cigarettes from Ukraine.
Following up on information received, the police searched a warehouse owned by one of the gang members in the southern Slovak town of Tornaľa.
The investigators also raided a textile shop in Tornaľa, netting 1.5 kilograms of marijuana, said customs office spokeswoman Silvia Balázsiková.



VISITORS to the Piešťany spa will soon experience the benefits of salt, not just mud.
photo: Anton Frič

Piešťany
Down by the sea in Piešťany

IN ADDITION to its traditional healing methods which use sulphuric waters and mud, Slovenské liečebné kúpele (SLK) Piešťany spa in Western Slovakia will soon open a new therapeutic salt cave, Jana Obertová told the TASR news agency.
The cave features natural blocks of sea salt and will simulate a real cave, with crystalline sea salt flooring.
"The micro-climate that develops in the cave will be similar to that of seaside regions where there is a high concentration of salt micro-particles containing iodine, bromine, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron and other elements," Obertová said.
A treatment session in the salt cave will last 45 minutes, which, according to experts, will be equivalent to a three-day stay at the beach.
Excellent results are expected for respiratory system diseases such as asthma, sinusitis (particularly when painful, due to changing atmospheric pressure) and allergies, said the spa's director Milan Kramárik.
It will be located in the historic Napoleon building at the spa.

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