Chess player, 11, is a Roma talent from Slovakia who beats adult competitors

News server Dobrenoviny.sk reports that 11-year-old chess player Agáta Berková has achieved unprecedented success in competition and even played against Russian chess grandmaster Anatoly Karpov after being coached by her father who, with his chess team, called “Hrochotské jezdci“(” The Hrochoť Horsemen “), shattered the stereotypical belief that Roma cannot play chess. Berková is from the Slovak town of Poltár, and her love of chess is believed to date from the first time she got there. sitting behind a chessboard at the age of one and a half.

Berková is trained by her father Milan Berko, who is a single parent. He also shares his chess skills with other local children who are learning chess.

Most of the children Berko teaches are Roma. The skill gives them the prospect of a better future than they would likely expect in life.

“Chess is silence everywhere. Suddenly a bunch of Roma come to the competition, and the competitors are not used to it. When we came to the door, you should have seen all heads turned. towards us. I even saw that there were ladies grabbing their purses and checking to see if things were in place. “

Even though the sport is dominated by majority society players (not just in Slovakia, but also in the Czech Republic), Berko has proven that his Roma accusations have something to show the world as well. “Chess is silence everywhere. Suddenly a bunch of Roma come to the competition, and the competitors are not used to it. When we came to the door, you should have seen all heads turned. towards us. I even saw that there were ladies grabbing their handbags and checking to see if things were in place. It was unpleasant, the kids even noticed it, “Berko wrote of her. first experience with the competition for the news server Dobrénoviny.sk.

Berko learned the basics of chess from his cousin – he was 25 at the time, and it would never have occurred to him in his wildest dreams that he would also play on the black and white chessboard. professionally, but when the opportunity arose to start teaching chess at the community center near the village of Zvolen-Hrochoť, he didn’t hesitate for a second. Initially, they had no support from the community.

There were only three chess boards for practice, which was hopelessly few considering the number of kids making their way to the community center. If the Banská Bystrica Chess Club had not helped them with their equipment requests, it would have been difficult for them to care for the children the way they do.

Mr. Berko assesses his cooperation with ŠK Junior Banská Bystrica club in CVČ, where coach Zdeněk Gregor and Regional Chess Academy coach Mr. Milan Michalička have worked, as a turning point. “They welcomed us, explained the conditions of the competition and the functioning of the club itself,” said Berko.

When the Hrochoť Horsemen are mentioned today, everyone in the chess community knows who they are. Even though Berko struggled with children who had problems in school, exhibited symptoms of hyperactivity or signs of recreational drug use, failures would have calmed all of these situations.

“When the kids started playing chess, after six months, I discovered that they looked at the world and their own future with different eyes. Grades were a condition of being there.

Finally, the riders from Hrochoť qualified for the Slovak championships and the European championships. “We were also in Moscow to show them that the Roma are not as stupid as they say. We were part of a delegation of Roma from Slovakia from various fields and professions, representing the Roma intelligentsia and led by Maroš Balog and Alexandr Dask ”, the proud trainer explained to Dobrénoviny.sk – and he also leads his daughter Agáta to Success.

Besides being Roma, Agáta has to face the fact that she is a girl in the chess world, but thanks to her participation in tournaments, she has traveled all over Slovakia with her father. She did not go to Russia, but managed to meet the Russian chess grandmaster Karpov twice to play with him.

At one show, the chess master played it on multiple chess boards simultaneously – and ultimately it was a draw. Agáta also faced Canadian champion Tomáš Krňan by draw.

When Agáta was even younger, she frequently participated in tournaments with adult players. Berko recalls an adult competitor who he believes could have scored up to 1,800 on the Elo skills rating system, but when the contestant realized he was losing to a girl – and a girl rom – he threw the coins angrily. far after his loss.

For her part, Agáta said that she would like to get a good education in addition to achieving excellent results in chess. “I would either like to become a divorce lawyer or become a scientist to invent a cure for my brothers who have autism,” the up-and-coming chess player, who also gets good grades in school, told the waiter. Dobrenoviny.sk.

In the GPX competition, Agáta was the Slovak champion in the eight and under category. At the European Championships, she finished in fifth place.


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