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Young Slovak chess player shines at her first Olympics

After the Olympic Games in London finished at the end of August, chess players flocked to the city of Istanbul for the 2012 World Chess Olympiad. Slovakia sent two teams, one male and one female, made up of players with and without physical impairments.

Konkolová at the Chess Olympics in Istanbul. (Source: TASR)

After the Olympic Games in London finished at the end of August, chess players flocked to the city of Istanbul for the 2012 World Chess Olympiad. Slovakia sent two teams, one male and one female, made up of players with and without physical impairments.

Nikola Konkoľová, from the Ružomberk Chess Club (ŠK Ružomberok), aged only 15, qualified for the tournament thanks to her participation in June’s International Physically Disabled Chess Association (IPCA) World Chess Championship, where she won gold in the junior category and placed fourth in the women’s category.

The Istanbul 2012 Chess Olympiad, which took place between August 27 and September 10, saw the Slovak men’s team place 30th and the Slovak women’s team finish 22nd. During the competition, disabled and able-bodied chess players competed against each other.

Nikola played six matches in the Olympics and helped lift the Slovak IPCA team from 75th to 67th position in the world rankings, said Ľubomír Ftáčnik, the top Slovak able-bodied chess player, according to ŠK Ružomberok’s website. The website quotes the president of the Slovak Chess Association, Martin Huba, as saying: “We are proud of Nikola for being able to secure herself a place in the IPCA team. Thus, she has helped promote Slovak chess in the world.”

Nikola herself is reported to have said that she was enthralled by the atmosphere and by how warmly she was treated by the more experienced players. Svetlana Gerasimova, the vice-president of the IPCA, encouraged her to learn foreign languages as well as improve her chess skills in order to be able to communicate more easily in the international environment.

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