Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Another bite in the... rain

Chess despite everything!
     Another rainy autumn day is behind...
     The weather has changed so dramatically since my last post that I can't help the somehow typical autumn melancholia to invade my mood.
     All this time since Olympiad I've been trapped in the "normal life" of a "normal person". You know, when you have to do so many little things, you're busy all day long and then you get in bed at the end of the day asking yourself if you really did anything significant. Frankly, though I know this kind of weeks are necessary, I feel like my life passes by, so you can imagine how happy I am they're over!
     I am finally getting back to my favorite lifestyle- the one of a chess player!
     Many tournaments are ahead! First, an Open in Cap d'Agde, France, where I've already been for 2 times, one of them which I really enjoyed (the one not involving someone stealing all my money on my day 1 of being in France and losing 20 Elo points afterwards).
Favorite activity in rainy days!
     An Open in Novi Sad will follow, one which will take place in the same period with the European Club Cup. I've been several times in Serbia and it was great every time so I am looking forward to this tournament!
     The Romanian Club Championship will be next and the Romanian Blitz & Rapid Championships afterwards and maybe even some more tournaments will appear in my calendar as well... I am fully packed up for the last months of this year and I'm really excited about it!

     I hope you're all well and I wish you a full or maybe a calm autumn- however you prefer it!

xoxo from Romania :)

Monday, 26 September 2016

Ice cream money

     Summer is definitely gone and I feel somewhat nostalgic... There were so many nice tournaments and even more nice memories I've made there.
     My summer had started with the European Individual Women Chess Championship where I was

quite close to qualifying for the World Cup. My chess was not so good there but neither was my opponents'. I missed the previous EIWCC and I forgot how much different can an "all women" event be, especially such an important one like this one. I was satisfied with my overall result, the prize contributed a bit as well, though it would be a lie to say I didn't want more, the goal was to qualify... I guess it will have to be postponed until next year, hopefully.
     A tournament in Iasi followed, "Iasi Open" where my chess was more stable, though again- not too impressive. I had finally won a game vs a 2500 player, somehow it didn't occur so often lately. I won some Elo points, some "ice-cream money" and my thoughts were already in Greece, where I'd go for a full month of non stop chess.
     Greece... Uff, it's not so easy to write about it, it was too good!
     The first tournament, in Anogia (Crete) was a bless, even though I had a tough start there, losing 2 games vs Greek juniors, my chess style had to become more boring for the next tournaments in order to avoid these accidents, no more taking 3 pawns and giving away initiative. Youth hates boring, I guess that compared to when I was 16, I hate boring a little bit less at 22 :) You can read more impressions about Anogia in a whole post I dedicated to it :
http://irinabulmaga.blogspot.md/2016/07/zorbas-world.html  Money for ice-cream again in place, time to head to the next tournament, this time in Paleochora.
     I promised to write a post about this place as well, but you know, it's never easy to write about something you already miss too much. It was my 3rd time being there. The first time I was there, in 2010, sharing the room and hopes with a very good friend- WIM Smaranda Padurariu was so nice that I came back in 2011 again, though just for vacation. I've missed the nice beaches of Paleochora so much since then, that I had decided to go again this year. Actually my planning of this years' summer concluded to answering a simple question: "where are the best beaches?". For me, the answer was simple- "Greece", it has a very special place in my heart. So... Paleochora- it was great, the rounds started in the late afternoon, so there was plenty of time to spend chillin' on the beach.
Enjoying the fantastic beach in Paleochora
I was a bit too full of chess so my preparation was more in drinking frappes and eating lamb as many times as I could (you can't imagine how much lamb I can eat, even I was surprised by my achievements!). Ah, and I've discovered a new traditional Greek wine "Retsina", you should definitely try it if you go to Greece! The tournament went well, wins vs lower rated opponents, draws and losses vs higher rated (in totally drawish positions, but whatever, some lamb and I was back on track!). The balance was clear: +some Elo points ; +3 (lamby) kg; + bag&shoes money. It was time to move further...

 The next stop was Kavala. The beach was not as spectacular as in Paleochora (very important point for me as you can see), but the tournament was organized very nicely and it was a pleasure to play, though again my preparation continued to reduce with every day that passed. Again wins vs lower rated opponents, some stupid losses vs higher rated ones, culminating in an unforgettable last round game vs a 2600+ player, where I fought for sharing the 1st overall place. I had an extra pawn, the pair of bishops- a totally wining position which turned out to be (as it happens too many times in women chess) not so winning. I lost that game and I felt very sorry for myself to finish such a fantastic month in Greece in such an inconvenient manner. I have to say that as the hours were passing and the night was approaching the day became better and better so finally, it became (despite of this unfortunate game) the best day in Greece! Balance: +some Elo points; + ice cream money; +unforgettable moments.
the Romanian Team in Baku
    The next stop- the Olympiad in Baku, about which I've already written a post you can see here: http://irinabulmaga.blogspot.md/2016/09/baku-chess-olympiad.html

     There were a lot of opposite feelings about it, I'm still trying to process the whole event... The most memorable moment was the one were I went for a totally crazy carousel ride, maybe that's the reason I'm still processing everything, my brain got too shaken, yeah...  Balance: no ice cream money, the Elo unchanged, -3kg; +extra adrenaline from that crazy ride...
     The vacation I had on Cyprus after all of these was a bless. I am tanned like never before and I still feel the summer in my veins!

Cyprus, with my dear sis'- Elena

xoxo from Chisinau ;)

Monday, 19 September 2016

Baku Chess Olympiad

     Some months with promises of posts have passed with me having no inspiration at all...

     Finally, some days after the World Chess Olympiad in Baku finished, I've found some energy to share some subjective impressions about it.
 Corina Peptan, Elena Luminita Cosma, Ciprian Nanu, me and Cristina Foisor
     Many people say that it was the best organized Olympiad ever. Frankly, I don't share this point of view. I will try to explain myself.
     I liked the hotel we stayed in and Baku itself but the food was too big of a challenge for my stomach and I had problems with it from day 1 until the last day. Moreover, it was sooooo cold in the playing hall that I also got totally sick at the middle of the tournament. One could imagine my joy going to the round with my stomach crying, sniffing all the time and dreaming of a "Parasinus" I couldn't take because of an eventual doping control.
Elena Luminita Cosma, Angela Dragomirescu, Corina Peptan and me

     Another negative thing I had to experience was some arbiters' incompetence. Imagine the following situation: I am playing my game, the endgame looks quite drawish, though it's me who has to make the draw, I find some repetition, if my opponent doesn't go for it, I can finally have some ideas to improve my position, we've repeated the position for 2 times and suddenly my opponent goes to the arbiter saying she wants to ask the captain if to make a repetition or not, the arbiter allows her. I want to specify that there was no draw offer at all. Practically, my opponent was asking her captain "Should I make this move or not?". Despite our captain's protests nothing happened. The same situation happened to one of my teammates in another match, moreover, that other arbiter couldn't even speak English, though he was quite friendly with our opponents who were Spanish speakers as him and allowed the player to talk to the captain and ask about repetition.
      I suppose that the other participants didn't have the same experiences I had and that's the reason they call this Olympiad the best one ever.
     All these facts had shadowed the joy of being a part of the biggest celebration of Chess.
     Otherwise, Baku seemed to be a really nice city. I was happy to see many of my friends from all over the World. I am normally a very positive person and I've tried to find positive things to hold on to through the tournament...
     The tournament started quite good for our team, culminating in an equal match we've made vs the future winners- China. The 2nd part of the tournament didn't go as we wanted, though we fought very hard each match. I guess that the conclusions are yet to be drawn.
     Sport is sport!

Saturday, 30 July 2016

Zorba's World

     It is difficult to start this post, as there are too little words in order to describe the past three weeks... I am so happy that I had had this fantastic inspiration and I chose to play this summer in Greece!
     I will dedicate this whole post to the first tournament I played on Crete- the "5th Anogia International Tournament Idaion Andron".
     It is funny that just before coming there I read the book "Zorba the Greek" and I have truly savored it! I liked so much how Zorba would find happiness in every little thing and I was dreaming that my trip to Crete would be about the same thing. So it was!
     When landing in Heraklion I was already feeling like I'm in some other World- the breeze was whispering me that it will be an unforgettable experience!
     The organizer was waiting for us with a wide smile on his face and his first words were "This will be the best tournament in your life!" He had a little of Zorba's character as well- such a positive and kind person- actually all the people I met in Anogia (a 2000 people village in the heart of Crete) were like this! He took us to the taverna in which we have eaten for the whole tournament- a very cozy place owned by a local family. We have had the most fantastic meals ever there! Home made lamb,goat, all kind of cheeses (the best I've tried so far), amazing wine and rakia- all hand made there! I felt like all I dreamed when reading the book actually came true!
     The room I got had a stunning view as well- I could see eagles flying over my head- it was breathtaking!
     The tournament was organized very well- there were 20 (!) live boards and we had Cretan treats and water in the playing hall. I don't see how the organizers could have done a better job!
     I am so grateful that I had this amazing experience and I will surely come back to this Heaven!
     Here is the link where you can see the results: http://chess-results.com/tnr221621.aspx?lan=1&art=1&rd=9&turdet=YES&flag=30&wi=984
     & here are some photo impressions:

 More to follow on the next places I've visited soon!

xoxo from Greece ;)

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

It's time to melt!

     Here I am- back to the "virtual life"!
     I haven't updated my blog for quite a long time and for no particular reason- not much inspiration left after playing chess daily I guess :))
     Many games and tournaments are behind and I am in Chisinau for a week or two, trying to relax before another month full of chess... It's unbelievable how hot it can be here- it feels like the global warming has become a huge issue- it's just crazy! I am stuck home, sitting under the AC, not tempting the fate by going out at 38 Celsius degrees...
     Anyhow, I have a lot to think about, the European Individual Women's Championship was very eventful. I had a lot of crazy games, wining positions which I lost and vice versa. I finished the tournament on the 20th place, being the 30+ seed, which was quite well, though not good enough to qualify to the World Cup (only 14 places were eligible for that).
     I played another rapid tournament and a classic one afterwards... My rating is getting again closer and closer to 2400, though never close enough :D I have already stopped checking it, though some extra conditions at tournaments have used to be quite a motivation. These Elo points get lost so quickly and never hurry to come back...
     I can't wait for the next chess marathon to begin! I will play in 3 nice Opens in Greece, 2 of them on Crete and another one in Kavala. Greek beaches are by far my favorites! I love drinking frappes under the umbrella and then going for a swim in the fantastically clear blue sea! I guess my skin color might change quite a lot this summer :D

Carpe Diem friends!

I urgently need another ice-cream to survive this day :D

xoxo from Chisinau ;)

Thursday, 24 March 2016

The "Cabernet Street"

Playing vs the tournament winner- GM Sergei Zhigalko
     It's spring and my mood is perfectly described by this! :D
     I had a couple of very interesting weeks, first, while playing the "Chebanenko Memorial" in Chisinau and then playing the last match with my team in Bundesliga.
     Let's take it one by one.
     The "Chebanenko Memorial" has already become a strong traditional rapid tournament in Chisinau, Moldova. It saw the light thanks to GM Viorel Bologan- the strongest Moldavian GM ever and a person for whom I have a deep respect, both for his chess accomplishments and his personality. It is well known that Veaceslav Chebanenko was "the coach of all Moldavians", including the above mentioned Viorel. The Rossolimo, the Slav with 4...a6 are only some of his "inventions".
A little speech during the wine tasting
     It is great that there's a tournament which pays honor to his name and I am very happy that I participated in this event. I didn't show my best chess there, nevertheless I took the 1st women prize.
It was a great feeling for me to play in the club where I practically grew up.
     The non chess part of the event was very nice as well. Moldavian people are well known for their hospitality and I believe they showed it once again. There was a very nice excursion organized to the "Cricova Winery Cellars". We walked along the "Cabernet Street", the "Chardonnay Street"...
     They say that Moldova has the best wines and women... I guess I'm not an objective judge, but one should definitely put Moldova on his travel list in order to test it!

     As about the Bundesliga part- I think it deserves a separate post, so- to be continued...

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Ukrainian Spring Waltz

GM Hou Yifan
     Spring has started with a very interesting event to follow- Women's World Chess Championship
Match in Lviv, Ukraine.
     It is one of the most awaited "clash of titans" for me- GM Mariya Muzychuk (2563) vs GM Hou Yifan (2667). I think that none of the latest crown matches were as interesting as this one.
     I've known Mariya for many, many years, as we were constant opponents at the European and World Youth Championships. Coming from a chess family, it was no surprise that she was always among the best ones in her age group. Lots of hard work, ambition and preparation- will it be enough to keep the crown?
     On the other hand, her opponent- the Chinese Hou Yifan is no doubt the strongest woman in chess at this moment, competing successfully on top men's level. I admire her very calm and seemingly "easy" way of playing high level chess.
     I am no oracle, but if I would be, I'm not sure whom I'd place my bets on.

     Round 1

     The first round was a calm draw in a Giuoco Piano. The Chinese had no problems in equalizing with black and the draw was agreed as early as move 31.
     I am sure that both sides have their own strategy for the match and the 1st game might have seemed less ambitious only because of this. I think it was some sort of tapping and getting to know how's the opponent feeling and what's her current form.
     It was interesting for me to observe how Mariya's behavior during the game has changed. If she was usually very intense and even had some nervous tics like tapping with her legs, it was a completely different player I saw now. She had a smiling, confident and seemingly relaxed look for the whole game.

Mariya Muzychuk (left) vs Hou Yifan (right)
     The 2nd round will start at 3pm local time, though we'll be able to follow it only a half hour later due to the anti cheating measures.
     I am curious- what's Ukrainians' strategy with black in this match? We will know in a few hours!

P.S. I hope that the quality of broadcasting will be better today, as there were a lot of problems to be fixed yesterday...

(Photos taken from the official site of the event: lviv2016.fide.com )