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: )

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Winter Drama

     A very tense weekend is behind...
     I haven't done much writing lately as my results weren't good at all and I was not sure if a post with the name "Depressed and discouraged" or "A month full of blunders" would be of much interest. Though I understand that everything happens for a reason and maybe this is just a "wake-up call" for me, one that wants to tell me that I should change my life, that I'm doing something very wrong, I still can't rationalize this... Hm... These ups and downs- lately only the latter...
    Well, let's talk about this weekend better.
     I played for my team- "Schwäbisch Hall" 2 matches in Bundesliga. These games were very important, as our team is fighting for the 1st place. Taking in count my short intro, one should understand that I was not in my best form... The 2 games I played were at least "not good", I blundered almost mate in the 1st game and lost, after my opponent had offered me a draw a few moves before- the match ended 3-3.
     The feeling I had after this game was... very guilty. A nice dinner with a glass of good wine and cheering words from our captain made me feel more or less ready for the next days' derby with "Bad Königshofen", or at least I thought so.

     The match didn't look good for us after a few hours. Though our first 2 boards- Nino Batsiashvili and Alina Kashlinskaya were clearly better and they eventually won, Sophie Milliet, Sopiko Guramishvili and I were in trouble, while Katya Atalik had a quite drawish position. Finally, it was  2,5-2,5 and my game was the only one left. The endgame I had on the board was not very optimistic- 2 pawns down in a Bishop (for me) vs Knight ending. We were playing on our last 30 seconds, it was 2 pm, I had my flight at 4.50... I was just trying to make moves that would not lose immediately... Somehow my opponent got nervous and gave me hopes for a draw. It got not so easy for black to win and struggling to find the best moves in time trouble she blundered terribly and I won. The match ended 3,5-2,5 for us.

    It was a game I wouldn't want show anyone, the only thing I did was to continue fighting... I guess that this game reminds me somehow of the latest Di Caprio movie :))) Yes, that's the best description of it.
    No one could believe that I won, neither did I for several minutes, just sitting at the table, trying to realize what had just happened.
     I think that maybe it's a sign that this bad period in chess ends for me with the end of winter...

xoxo from Romania :)