Bosnia and Herzegovina Team Chess Championship history

BiH Chess UnionBosnia and Herzegovina rose as independent country in 1992 after dissolution of Yugoslavia, yet it was soon crushed by the enormity of the disaster of the Bosnian War, which lasted until 1995. Today, politically speaking, Bosnia and Herzegovina (commonly referred to as BiH) is federal unit composed of two entities: Bosniak-Croat Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbian Republika Srpska. Almost half of its 4 million people population are Muslim Bosniaks, while Serbs constitute biggest majority. 15% are Croats.

While Yugoslavia, Olympiad winners from 1950, used to be World's second strongest chess nation throughout the decades, BiH players contributed little, if any, to the success. Strongest players those times were Enver Bukić and Milan Vukić - but they never managed to qualify to the Olympic YU team. Surprisingly, after collapse of Yugoslavia Bosniaks gave fabulous display at their second independent start at the Moscow Olympiad in 1994. Seeded 11th, the BiH team led by GM Nikolić, GM Sokolov and GM Kurajica scored 35/56 and came second, just behind unbeatable Russia (Kasparov, Kramnik...). In 1996, too, they were quite impressive crossing the line at 7th, but failed to achieve any reasonable success since.

There has been three ethnical-based chess federations in Bosnia since mid 1990s, each one running its own individual and team championships. Chess Association of Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Muslim Bosniaks) claimed to hold official BiH championships (indeed most of strongest teams comes from there and they dealt with ECU getting right to send top league teams for the European Club Cup, which Bosna Sarajevo won in 1994, 1999, 2000 and 2002), but without Serbian and Croatian teams obviously it couldn't be so. The all-national Chess Union of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Šahovska unija Bosne i Hercegovine) was established in 2004 in Sarajevo on basis of three ethnical federations (see below). Earlier in 2002 the first all-national league, called the Premijer Liga was finally launched, with 3 Bosniak, 3 Serbian and 4 Croatian teams. The format has been until today six board, ten team round robin. Bottom three teams are relegated and replaced by winners of three first league groups, each group run by one of ethnical federations. One team cannot play paralelly in the Premijer Liga and ethnical league, so starting from 2002 the ethincal leagues are not true championships, just second level of the all-BiH pyramid.

ŠS FBiHChess Association of Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Šahovski Savez Federacije Bosne i Hercegovine) is the federation of Muslim Bosniaks, the biggest and most successfull one and has its headquarters in Zenica. Currently it has four teams in the Premijer Liga (ŠK Bosnia Sarajevo, ŠK Celik Zenica, HŠK Napredak Sarajevo and ŠK Alpong Sarajevo). Other notable teams include ŠK Bihać, ŠK Sarajevo, ŠK Željezničar Sarajevo. It has to be noted that they - contrary to its name, that reflects the name of the Muslim-Croat entity of Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, they only represent Bosniaks, since Croatian chess players associated in the ŠS H-B (see below).

ŠS RSChess Association of Republika Srpska (Šahovski Savez Republike Srpske or Шаховски Савез Републике Српске in Cyrillics) has it bureau in Banja Luka and controls chess life in the Serbian part of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Strongest chess clubs: ŠK Glasinac Sokolac, ŠK Panteri Bijeljina, KŠK Banja Luka, ŠK Slavija Istočno Sarajevo, ŠK Rudar Prijedor, ŠK Obudovac. Yet never any RS club won BiH Premijer Liga.

ŠS H-BChess Association of Herzeg-Bosnia (Šahovski Savez Herceg-Bosne) is located in Mostar and gathers players of Croatian background. There are a lot of strong chess clubs federated under auspices of ŠS H-B: ŠK Široki Brijeg (BiH PL winners from 2012!), ŠK Kiseljak, HŠK Zrinjski Mostar, ŠK Napredak Bugojno, ŠK Prozor-Rama. Unlike in other sports, where there are no separate Croatian competitions, ŠS H-B manage their own Croatian-only Prva Liga, which is BiH national second level.

Winners 2002-2012:
8x ŠK Bosna Sarajevo, 1x ŠK Željezničar Sarajevo, 1x ŠK Bihać, 1x ŠK Široki Brijeg

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