While looking for information and persons in Teslić, I kept finding texts about the successes of chess players from Teslić on Google. And, I have to admit that I do not remember having seen anywhere any piece of news about chess before that. That was interesting, so I searched for someone that I could talk to about the phenomenon of Teslić and chess. And I found Slobodan Kuzmanović, the chairman of the chess club ”Mladost Teslić”. He told me what I wanted to know and some other interesting things.
Chess games have been organised in Teslić for a long time. It started between the two world wars, and the club that is still there was officially established in 1950 under the name ”Edo Blažek”, after the national hero Edo Blažek. Later on, the name was changed several times. It was called ”Teslić Destilacija”, and now it is called chess club ”Mladost Teslić”.
We were successful also before the last war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We were part of the league, in 1990 we managed to qualify, and our players were quite successful in the region.
In the post-war period, there was a series of talents, and the best-known talent, Borki Predojević, came from this club. He is now playing for Sarajevo’s ”Bosna” and the national team of Bosnia and Herzegovina. We had several other players that won the title of masters – Gojko Simić is one of them. He is no longer a member of our club, but this is where he came from.
When it comes to other results, I would stress the year 2012, when Milanka Tomić won the silver medal at the European Championship held in Banja Vrućica for cadets and youth. As regards some of the recent individual results, I have to mention the sisters Milana and Maša Babić. They started playing chess two years ago. They are nine now. And Milana has already won a silver medal for speed chess in December last year at the European Championship in Novi Sad. This year in June, she again won a silver medal for speed chess at the European Championship. She was sharing the first place with a Russian girl, but in terms of additional criteria, she was second, so these would be some of the most important results.
I myself used to be the champion of Republika Srpska in senior chess.
Chess has been played in Teslić for a number of years mostly due to the work of enthusiasts and, of course, due to persons interested in it. Most funding for clubs in Teslić is coming from the Assembly of Teslić municipality, and there are also some donor funds.
In the seventies of the past century, the club stopped being active, and then a group of chess players organised themselves in order to reopen it again. I know some of them by name, for example Miodrag Stjepanović, who then managed the club for a long time, and who also used to be the president of the Chess Association of Bosnia and Herzegovina. He also published many books about chess, even a monography about the chess club ”Mladost Teslić”, which is called ”Teslićka 64 polja”. Also, in these seventies, there was Jovo Kujundžić as one of the initiators to reopen the club, and he was later on the president of the club for a term.
At the moment, our club is competing in the senior competition of the league of Republika Srpska. As regards cadets, in addition to the results that I have just mentioned, our cadets are among the most successful ones in Republika Srpska and Bosnia and Herzegovina. We are probably among the two best clubs in terms of medals, participations, etc.
How do you attract children and youth to come and start participating in trainings?
Here in Teslić we have been organising championships of primary schools in Teslić municipality for years, so children start attending. They are attended by children who are active members of the club and are also attending the schools, so that other children become interested, see that it is an opportunity to socialise, that it is well organised, and that there are some small prizes and medals.
What would you recommend the youth, or anyone – why should they start playing chess?
Chess has been introduced in the school curriculum in around 40 countries around the world. In Serbia, it was introduced 7 or 8 years ago, maybe even more, as an elective at schools and faculties.
Chess develops many abilities in children – memory, concentration, sense for planning, relationship towards others. It also teaches them to make decisions independently. It is the only sport in which a referee cannot impact the result, even if he/she wanted to, unless you give them such an opportunity. It develops many abilities in children.
Persons that play chess do not get diseases such as Parkinson’s or dementia in late age. Very rarely a former chess player will become a criminal. Chess somehow forms the personality of players; children mature more fast.