Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Restless Optimism

Dear readers,

The busiest time of the year is starting for me these days. Many important tournaments are ahead, many interesting trips.

The first stop is at the Batumi Chess Olympiad (24 Sept - 5 Oct). As a team event, one where I represent my country, there is definitely some pressure on me, especially as I will be playing board 1 for Romania. Nothing's as motivating as a good challenge though and I can't wait for some big battles! (Check up my FB pages for updates during the tournament).

It is interesting to notice how years pass and I expect my eagerness to play chess to moderate somehow, but no, it doesn't matter that it's my 6th Olympiad already, I am still very much looking forward to it! Let's see what plans Batumi has on us...

Memory from the Baku Chess Olympiad in 2016, with Luminita Cosma, Cristina Foisor, me,
Ciprian Nanu and Corina Peptan. 

Next to follow is a quite unique tournament in Norway, Harstad (yeah, far North I head from the sunny Batumi). There will be 7 games, 3 rapids and 4 classical ones. I might even give some simul on one of the days, maybe even blindfold. I expect this trip to be very interesting. Anyhow, the Tromso Olympiad (2014) has left only good memories for me so I am quite optimistic about my return to Norway. 10-16 October is reserved for it.

Me, giving a blindfold simul

After no longer than 3 days of rest I will be heading to Isle of Man. It's been my dream to play there for quite some time and I am really excited about finally being able to make it happen! Being one of the strongest chess opens ever, names like Vladimir Kramnik, Vishy Anand, Levon Aronian and Wesley So are on the starting list and I can't be any happier about the chance to play in the same tournament with them and maybe even meet them at the chess board! (My optimism is restless lately...)

Yeah, this is how my end of September and whole October looks like.

It is probably too little to say that I am very grateful for the chance life has given me- to do what I love the most and to call it work!

Wish you all a nice end of week and remember, it is never too late for a dream to come true!

Sunday, 15 July 2018

July Reflections

Playing vs GM Fridman (blitz)
     While being home for a few days between tournaments I was thinking whether I am doing the right thing about choosing my summer tournaments...

     From one point of view, why not play a nice Open in a beautiful location by the sea (Sardinia, Corsica, Crete), trying to combine chess & vacation, from another point of view- is it really the way to prepare for the serious upcoming autumn tournaments?

     In the first scenario (the one I am following atm) it is quite difficult to stay 100% focused on chess as there are a lot of distractions- going to the seaside for 1-2 hours, then feeling sleepy for another 2-3 hours, then the game is coming up with no real desire for any serious preparation... Of course, the opponents might feel the same way, but if it's not the case then I might get into some serious trouble. In the end, the result might be somehow medium or more or less satisfying, but the feeling left is that I could have done more.
    Though, let's not forget about the advantage of the first scenario- not stressing at all, as there's no pressure about the result, getting a nice tan (!) and an all in all improvement of health after the nice swims in the salty water...

While taking a swim , Purtichju, Corsica

     On the other hand, if choosing a tournament in a less compelling location, I would be 100% focused on the games with the probability of my result to be better increasing substantially. Also, let's not forget about the financial part of the story- the better the result, the higher the income. Though, a bad game can ruin it all, increasing the stress level when realizing how much effort you have put into the preparation, how close you were to the desired result and yet how you have missed it...
Surrounded by dangerous kids in the Purtichju Open

     The 2nd scenario, sometimes with a happy end, sometimes not is how my year looks like from September to May, so maybe it is after all a good idea to take a break from it in summertime. On the other hand, what will be my playing form by the end of summer? Will the "vacation-like" tournaments benefit to my brain or send it to a limitless vacation?

     Not having a real answer for all these questions, I'm heading to my next tournament in a few days. It will take place on yet another island- Crete, a place very close to my heart for a lot of various reasons. Let's see how it will go and if any of my questions will get an answer...

Corsican Sky
     On a positive note, may your mood be as serene as the Corsican sky!

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

The Emerald Land

     Dear readers, returning home from one of the most beautiful locations I've ever been to, many thoughts have come into my mind... While being on the plane, I've sketched this post and here it is- getting alive!

     Let's start with the beginning- about one month ago, I was searching for a nice seaside tournament to open the summer season with. I found the Capo d'Orso Open, in the Porto Mannu Residence, Sardinia and wrote an email to the organizer, quite unsure that there would be any conditions left so late. Imagine my thrill when I got an email the next day, saying there were exactly 2 spots left!

     Getting enthusiastic about island trips is totally about me! I have been to Sardinia before and I knew exactly what to expect: fantastic nature, with flowers blooming everywhere; unbelievable landscapes with emerald sea and unusually shaped rocks; yummy food & wine; the perfect espressos to start the day with and the beautiful Italian language- a melodious accompaniment for the already symphony like environment...

     You probably know what they say about the thoughts getting real, that's exactly what happened to me too!
     Moreover, the playing conditions were perfect! It has become the most important factor for me when choosing whether to play a tournament or not. Being a very active player, who spends a lot of time travelling, with not too much time to rest, it is vital for me to have good conditions while at the board, so I can focus only on chess, not spending any amount of precious energy on getting nervous about an uncomfortable table or chair or too little light or too many degrees in the hall.
     This is why I want to say a big "Thank you!" to Yuri Garrett, the organizer of the tournament- who has given class to many bigger and more known (even official) tournaments! All the little details were well thought, so that both the amateur players and the professionals would have nothing to worry about but playing chess and getting regular sunbaths!

     All in all, the atmosphere was great! There was an open air bar, where one could have a coffee or a glass of wine (with the most unbelievable view to enjoy) while analyzing his game at one of the chess boards kindly provided by the organizers!

     I am very happy to have been there, it has definitely charged my batteries for all the tournaments ahead and , hey, the 5th place in an Open while being the 10th in the starting list sounds not bad at all either, right?

     Enjoy a few photos from the event and if you're not sure how to begin your next summer, the Capo d'Orso Chess Open 2019 is already confirmed to take place next June!

Sardinian View

Can you see the shape of a bear? That's why the place is called Capo d'Orso! (c) Laura Santini

The playing hall (C) Laura Santini

Playing Hall (C) Laura Santini

The Organizing Team


     The tournament is over, but chess is still on the tables of Porto Mannu and in our hearts!

Friday, 16 February 2018

Portugal "Obsession"

     After a few days of rest, I've thought it would be a pity not to share some thoughts about my latest chess trip to Lisbon, Portugal.
     I participated in the "Portugal Open", a much stronger open than I had expected it to be. My starting rank was 37, so I was very eager to try to "take some scalps". The schedule of the tournament was very specific- first 2 days- double rounds (2.30 pm/ 7.30 pm), while the other days- only one round- each at 7.30 pm. I must say that I have played a few games which lasted after midnight!
     Otherwise, it was quite enjoyable- to have a late breakfast and to explore the city afterwards. Lisbon has impressed me lots with its architecture, unique style and charm. The narrow streets, the beautiful buildings, the kind people... The "eating experience" was really fantastic! So many tasty dishes! It was the first time in years I came home with 2 extra kg after a chess tournament! (it was usually the other way around)))

     As about the tournament, the balance is: no GM scalps, winning vs lower rated, losing vs higher rated... Not my best performance, but enough for taking 1st place amongst women, both in the classic part of the event and the rapid one. I had some very entertaining games and here are some moments from them:

Cruz-Bulmaga, black to move
 26... Bxf2! 27. Kxf2- Qc5 28. Kf1- f4 29. Nxe4- Bxc4 30. Re2- Qe3! 31. Rb2- f3!

There was a lovely variation here: 32. Qd5+- Kh8! -+ , but not 32... Bxd5?? 33.Rxe3 +-
My opponent preferred to continue with: 32.gxf3- Qxf3 33.Ke1- Qf1+ 34.Kd2- Qxe2+ 35.Kc3- Qd3+ 36. Kb4- Bd5 0:1

Paiva-Bulmaga, black to move
20...Bxg3! 21.fxg3- Rxg3! 22.Kxg3-Qg5+ 23.Qg4- Qxe3+ 24.Kh4- Rf4 25. Rcd1

An esthetic mate followed: 25...Rxg4 26.Kxg4- Nf6+ 27.Kf5- Bc8+ 28.Ke5- Qg5#

As a conclusion: I recommend everyone to take the chance of visiting the beautiful city of Lisbon and (why not) play in the "Portugal Open 2019"!

Have a nice end of week!