Nurgyul Salimova- world chess phenomenon


I believe that hard work and perseverance is the key to success, the Bulgarian girl who became Bulgaria’s youngest female chess champion in 2017 says. Now the fifteen-year-old Bulgarian girl tops the world U16 female chess ranking.

Nurgyul Salimova started playing chess when she was only four. She attended the first chess tournament organized at the Danube city of Silistra when she was six-year-old. There, she met her coach Zhivko Zhekov. Nurgyul has been working with him for ten years now.

I met Nurgyul Salimova in 2009 in Silistra (Southeast Bulgaria). She was only five at that time when her grandfather took her to the local chess tournament. She impressed me a lot with her style and skills. I invited her to join the U8 state female chess championships… and she won it!, Zhivko Zhekov from Burgas 64 Chess Club recalls.

Thus, Nurgul became a national chess champion before she even turned six. Later, she started to practice chess more seriously. She has the ambition to become a world female chess champion like her favorite Bulgarian colleague Antoaneta Stefanova:

I have always dreamt of becoming a world female chess champion. I must work even harder and perhaps take part in more chess tournaments, in order to fulfill my dream. I practice for at least five hours a day, but apparently I have to double my efforts on the road to the world title. However, I strongly believe that I can do it with a lot of work and perseverance.

Nurgyul’s coach Zhivko Zhekov contends that the athlete has the potential to make her dream come true and says that tranquility is the key to success. Nurgyul manages to stay focused during the game. She is able to ignore distraction and is fully devoted to the game.

The fifteen-year-old Bulgarian chess talent lives in the village of Krepcha (Targovishte district). She is a ninth grader and studies at a school in the neighboring town of Opaka. How Nurgyul manages to balance between lessons and sport?

If I feel too exhausted I take a day off, Nurgyul says and adds: Even then, however, I study certain chess games and do some practical training. It is difficult, because I start playing chess right after school and sometime I do not have even time for an afternoon snack. I practice until 9 pm and I do not have too much time for my school lessons. I write my homework and learn the important lessons until late. Unfortunately, I always feel tired when I wake up in the morning. However, I believe that one day my efforts will pay off.

What comes next for Nurgul after her latest achievement?

Nurgyul Selimova with her coach Zhivko ZhekovThis achievement is merely a stage of her sports career, Nurgyul’s coach Zhivko Zhekov told Radio Bulgaria and adds: She may not top the next ranking and the one after. Of course the first place in the chess rankings is a well-deserved moment of joy. Now she has to participate at European and world tournaments and other competitions to achieve the grandmaster norms and we will not change our training methods.

Nurgyul has been taking part in international chess competitions since she turned six. She visited many countries and got acquainted with different cultures. Moreover, Nurgyul Salimova became a public figure in the recent weeks. I had many interviews in the recent days, but I would not say they are a huge burden. I know it is worthy, because I do it for my chess career and the development of this sport.

Although she is only fifteen, Nurgyul covered two grandmaster norms in December 2018 – international female grandmaster norm and international male grandmaster norm. Bulgaria’s young chess talent is to make another step towards her dream. She will represent Bulgaria at the European Women’s Individual Chess Championship in Antalya, Turkey between April 10 and April 23.

What is her message to her coevals?

My message for success is simple. They should never stop pursuing their dreams, despite the difficulties.

English version: Kostadin Atanasov

Photos: private library

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