Memorie.al publishes the unknown story of Rozana Gjergji, the Albanian chess legend, who at the age of 6 was active with the adult team and won several cups, medals and first places in several chess competitions and meetings that usually took place to the Culture Club “Ali Kelmendi” in Tirana, as he was with the Master of Sports, Liri Bajo. Rare testimony of Rozana’s father, Kolec Gjergji Vistari, who was arrested by the State Security in 1939 the day he was getting married and going to take the bride, was sentenced to 13 years in political prison, on the charge that he and his brother Ndocin, they wanted to blow up the bust of Stalin in Tirana. How Rozna was banned from participating in chess sports activities in 1983 when at the age of 7 she was active with the adult team of the Sports Club “Dajti” and won several cups, medals and first places in several competitions and meetings. chess, which usually took place at the “Ali Kelmendi” Culture Club, as well as the intervention of Enver Hoxha who gave her permission to play, which led her to be declared the ‘Master of Sports’, the absolute champion of Albania, winning in many international activities, and to dedicate the feature film ‘Dy twice mat’, of Kinostudio “Shqipëria e Re”.
Back in 1982, when Rozana was not more than six years old, she played with adults and won several cups, medals and first places in several chess competitions and meetings which usually took place at the “Ali Kelmendi” Cultural Club. After all these successes, the news came to our family, or rather to say “mandate”, that the girl would no longer be allowed to participate in any kind of competition or chess activity. This suspension of Rozana, detaching her from chess, we considered one of the greatest family tragedies that had happened to us until then, just like my imprisonment or that of my brother Ndoci. At the time, six-year-old Rozana was crying at home, asking me to take her to chess meetings, saying, “Daddy, send me to play, he’ll win the cup again.” I did not know what to do and told him that our house was too small and cramped and we had no place to hold the cups. But she replied: ‘Well, Dad, there is nothing wrong with taking them to Uncle Ndoci’. Faced with that extremely difficult and perhaps tragic situation, in order not to ruin the girl’s childhood dream, I was forced and knocked on my friends who had not abandoned me yet. Ramadan Pasmaçiu, was the man who was close to me and he intervened until Enver Hoxha “.
This is how he remembered, among other things, the story of his daughter, Kolec Gjergji (Vistari), a former political prisoner and well-known writer and publicist, who recounted the vicissitudes he had gone through during the years of Enver Hoxha’s communist regime, to do It is possible that his daughter Rozana Gjergji, one of the famous talents of Albanian chess who surprised the entire sports public by becoming champions with adults at the age of six, was allowed to sit in front of black squares on chessboards. Who is Rozana Gjergji and what family does she come from? When did he start playing chess and what were the first impulses that landed him on the black squares? How did she sit on the chessboard for the first time in official activities and how did she manage to win first places and become champions with adults since the age of six? Why after these successes, Rozana was suspended from participating in chess activities and not allowed to continue her talent? Who were those who prevented her and those who helped her return to national and international competitions, and why did they allow her to be active only with the “Dajti” team and not with the well-known teams of Tirana, such as “Partizani” or “Dynamo”? What were the evaluations and considerations of the Albanian chess masters for the little Rozana, who became national champion at a time when her head could barely stand on the chess table and how did she manage to become a “Master of Sports”, winning in several international meetings?
Grandfather shot in 1945, father and uncle imprisoned in 1969
Rozana’s father Kolec Gjergji, (Vistari), originally from the village of Xhan in Dukagjini, was orphaned at a very young age, because in 1945, under the pretext that he “had sheltered saboteurs”, the communists shot his father and from that day she the family was declared an “enemy of popular power.” Hiding his family biography, Koleci was able to continue his studies at the “Skënderbej” Military School, but when he was finishing his exams in the last year, he was expelled from school with the motivation of being “the son of the enemy of the people”. After that he was forced to work in the heaviest jobs and the shadow of the class enemy followed him everywhere. It was not long before the beginning of 1963, he was arrested and held for a year under investigation, only to be arrested again in 1964-65. This was just the beginning of the long ordeal of suffering that would fall on Kolec, because in 1969, the day he was getting married and the wedding was taking place, he was arrested again and sentenced to 13 years in prison. He was accused of being “an enemy of the people who wanted to blow up Stalin’s bust in Tirana.” After serving his sentence in Burrel prison, Koleci returned to Tirana, settling in an apartment in the ‘Kombinat’ neighborhood, together with the family of his brother Ndoci, who was sentenced to prison together with him. After that he asked for a job and for the “people of his mold” the popular power had reserved the most difficult places, such as: the factories of the Glass Factory, the “Josif Pashko” Combine, the mines, etc., where Koleci was enslaved working in shifts day and night to support the newly created family. In this family environment, in March 1976, the second child Rozana was born, who would later become the sixth sister of the Gjergji family.
How did Rozana start chess?
Regarding the beginnings of Rozana chess, father Koleci recalls: “None of us in the house know exactly when Rozana started chess, but I can say that in 1980, when she was not more than five years old, she surprised all the people who were watching a game of chess there in the neighborhood ‘Kombinat’, when she intervened and showed a dominant movement, from which the game was won. At that time in the neighborhood ‘Kombinat’ where we lived the game of chess was very spread and everywhere you saw people playing and others following them for hours. In these rooms I could not help but approach myself, as I liked that game which I had theoretically learned when I was in Burrell Prison, through the famous method of the Great Russian master, Majzelic. At that time I had just been released from prison and seen as an “enemy of the class”, many friends had left me and others did not dare to approach me. on the street, at work and at the club when I drank a glass and everywhere, I would take Rozana vo use gel, having him as a true friend. I also did not miss it at the Cultural Club of the Stalin Textile Factory, which remained the only entertainment for all the inhabitants of that large neighborhood, where its manager, a respected intellectual, took out the chess pieces, and we followed with passion the games they developed. There in that environment were often organized championships where the national team players were invited and who came out defeated from there, without mentioning the chess players of the clubs, such as brothers Shuke, Meta, B. Egro, two Nokat, Th. Pustina, Sh. Trajsa, Ibrahim Storja, up to Shaqir Ruçi, who were chess players who in other conditions, would undoubtedly compete with dignity with the best in the country. “During these matches that took place in that hall, Rozana lost everything by focusing all her attention on the magic game and often intervened for any movement, which surprised all those who attended those games”, recalled Kolec Gjergji (Vistari ), the beginnings of the game of chess for his daughter Rozana.
Champion since 6 years old
In 1982, when Rozana was not yet six years old, she competed for the first time in a chess competition that took place in the premises of the Club “Ali Kelmendi”, about which Koleci recalls: “Since Rozana had shown a tendency and talent in the game of chess, many of my friends encouraged me and forced me to take her to play in a chess competition. So I got it and in that competition, she took first place at the third table where she played against a girl of her victory caused a great commotion and at that time the well-known craftsman Mendim Veizaj wrote an article in the newspaper “Sporti Popullor”. In the same year, on the occasion of the November holidays, another adult championship was held (there was no championship where again Rozana won first place in the second table. After that came the Republic Cup of 1983, where Rozana faced the ‘Master of Sports’, Liri Bajo, who was a two-time champion of the Republic and achieved to equalize the match, playing with black stones. This match made a big fuss and became the subject of discussion in the magazine “Science and Life”. After playing other matches and winning them, Rozana also won the Republic Cup, which was then considered by many chess specialists as a real miracle. Many people who attended the Cup handover ceremony could not believe their eyes when they saw little Rozana take the Cup and take pictures with Liri Bajon, who said with superlatives saying: This girl will one day become great champion. After that success, Rozana was congratulated and supported by many of the great masters of Albanian chess, such as: Ylvi Pustina, Omari, Veizaj, Vila, etc. The great master, Esat Duraku, told his chess colleagues: I am introducing Rozana Gjergji, this is the miracle that made the red egg “, recalls Koleci, about the time when Rozana won the Republic Cup and won congratulations of the great masters.
Suspension of Rozana by chess!
After those successes that Rozana achieved, she continued to compete again in the numerous competitions and chess activities that took place then not only in Tirana, but also in different districts of the country, achieving other victories and receiving medals and honorary diplomas. But when it had reached its peak and many of the clubs in the capital, such as “Dinamo”, “Partizani” and “Tirana”, wanted to take it from the “Dajti” Club, where it was active, what was expected happened: Rozanës She was banned from playing chess because her father had been a political prisoner. Rozana cried and asked me to send her to play telling me she would win more cups. From this situation where I happened I was forced and knocked on my friends who had not yet forgotten me. So Ramadan Pasmaçiu received me well and through Liljana Hoxha intervened until Enver who had expressed that Rozana be allowed to play. “Only after that, Rozana was returned to the” Dajti “team and allowed to continue the chess she had in her life,” Koleci recalls at the time when Rozana was banned from playing chess. Likewise, Kolec Gjergji expressed with special admiration and respect, for many of the people who were close to him in his efforts to help Rozana continue chess, such as: Secretary of the Party Committee of the Ministry of Defense, Ali Vukatana, Minister of Education Tefta Cami, Chief of the “Partizani” Club, Isa Tare, the Head of the “Dajti” Club Mustafa Çelkupa, Leonard Mikeli and the former Director of the Institute of Pedagogical Studies, Sotir Temo, who asked that Rozana be treated as a special case, and many others.
Rozana’s sports career as a “Master of Sports”
Since the day Rozana was allowed to continue chess, she has participated in almost all championships, appearing three times National Adult Champions and all other second places. During these years she has been announced three times among the “10 best athletes in the country”, receiving the title “Master of Sports”. She has also participated in several international meetings, such as in Novi Sad, Turkey, Greece, Romania, Bulgaria and Spain, where she competed with dignity and was able to win a ball to receive the title of “International Masters” .In 2001, Rozana participated in chess competitions and was again proclaimed National Champion of the country never forgets the masters who helped her in her formation, such as Omar, Esat Duraku, Petrit Meks, Aldo Zadrima and Mendim Veizaj, as well as all those who decided to dedicate to her the feature film of the former Kinostudio “Albania e Re “, with the title” Twice mat “. In addition to chess where Rozana Gjergji has consistently excelled, she has had the same results and in graduating excellently at the Faculty of Philology for the German language. After graduation, Rozana was appointed lecturer at the Academy Skënderb ej “in Tirana and in 2002, she graduated from the Faculty of Law, but never forgot the passion, chess, which was and remained, an integral part of her life. /Memorie.al