Young chess player Adela Velikic could not even dream of returning from her first university competition – European Universities Games in Zagreb (in 2016) with three medals – two gold and one silver. Under initiative of FIDE, July 20 has been observed as International Chess Day by chess players around the world since 1966. This date was a great occasion to talk to Adela about her career and studies.
When she was six years old, her sister taught her to move chess pieces. Later, in elementary school, she went to chess lessons, joined a club and completely fell in love with this sport. Today, Adela Velikic is an international master, national team member and vice-champion of Serbia, and in addition to numerous successes on the chessboard, she does not neglect her studies at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering.
“I am trying to progress in both fields. For the last few years, I have been a standard member of the senior national team. I was the vice-champion of the state last year, and the previous two I won gold in the team competition with my team. That would not be possible without daily work, effort, commitment and perseverance, which is the key to success in sports and studying”, Adela points out.
In addition to her student obligations, this 23-year-old lady dedicates a large part of her time to improving chess skills.
“Sometimes it takes years, sometimes even decades for a person to become a successful chess player. It depends on how hard you work. As for me personally, there is no concrete preparation for competitions. I focus on the improvement of quality of my game, but one more thing is also very important – mental health. As student-athletes, we are exposed to a much greater amount of stress than the average student or athlete, so it is very important for us to look after our mental health”.
After her debut at university competitions and European Universities Games in Zagreb, Adela continued to represent Serbia at major student competitions. In 2018, she participated in the World University Championship in Brazil.
“The European Universities Games in Zagreb have remained in my fond memories as my first university tournament. Of course, winning a few medals also helped. I think that international student competitions are very important, considering that they give an opportunity to athletes who have not neglected their education to participate in some other elite competitions”, says Adela.
Many people consider that chess is not a sport but an intelligent game. The young Serbian chess player has a clear message for all of them.
“Some studies have shown that during just one game of chess, an elite chess player can burn over 1,000 calories. Like any other sport, chess requires both mental and physical effort. That is why I would quote the former world champion Anatoly Karpov, who said that chess is everything – art, science and sports“.