December 25, 2011


Click to play this Smilebox slideshow

For those who are interested, but ONLY after all celebrations etc: White to move and mate in 3;)

December 14, 2011

Happy 60th birthday Jan Timman!

More than 40 years of top level chess and 60 years of life! Here's to many more!

And for us, a small brain teaser, composed by none other than Jan Timman:

December 12, 2011

Chess - the game of pharaohs?

I cannot stand winter. I hate to be cold, to wrap myself up in dozens of clothes, shivering and muttering the bad weather, cursing the multiple delays in public transportation and eventually getting exhausted of drinking gallons of tea to warm up. Only the holidays save the season:) I still have to be patient for that; meanwhile, I decided to 'trick' winter once again, by wandering off to…EGYPT!

November 28, 2011

Bobby Fischer against the world

I don't know how come I 'succeeded' to see the absolutely wonderful HBO documentary on Bobby Fischer's life only a while ago. I should have watched it immediately when it appeared on the market. Anyway, later is better than never and I strongly recommend it!

November 16, 2011

Separate chess tournaments for WoMen?

The women world chess championship between Hou Yifan and Koneru Humpy is currently ongoing, giving all of us the opportunity to follow the games and have interesting debates related to this topic. At least I had a tough time trying to explain to my non chess players friends (but also to some professional players!) why we have separate events, for women and men. In fact, our discussions went further than that, since there is actually no 'only men' competition, but an 'open' section, where women are allowed to compete against their men counterparts. Assuming that I managed to make my point and give strong arguments for the segregation, another question popped up: Are we talking about positive discrimination than?!

October 23, 2011

The hardest game to win is a won game

'I was so winning and I lost! What a badluck I had, to ruin such a good position! It's amazing how lucky my opponent is!' - common chess frustration. It happened to all of us and it will still happen as long as chess will be alive.

Indeed, luck plays a role sometimes. I forgot where I heard the following quote: 'If you are good, you can be 2nd, but to be 1st, you need some luck.' - or something similar to that. But no matter how much I was blaming Gods, destiny, weather and of course, badluck, I became wiser and reached a deeper conclusion: I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.

October 5, 2011

Chess Design

I believe a house is not a home without the right accessories. I also believe that the way we live and function in our space tells a lot about who we are as individuals. I believe that a study, home office, living room, play room or a hallway always benefits from a special nuance or detail. Such a detail would be the placement of a chess board somewhere in a corner or even right in the middle of the room, so you cannot miss it:)

September 30, 2011

Jan Timman and Jorge Luis Borges

To my shame, I must admit that my cultural knowledge is lacking Jorge Luis Borges' famous masterpieces. The Argentine writer and poet came to my consciousness today, thanks to Jan Timman and his book, Een sprong in de Noordzee. Amongst many interesting chess stories which you can enjoy reading his book, Timman is also talking about literature, art and different cultures he encountered through his chess tournaments.
In 1982, while Timman was playing in Buenos Aires, the Argentinian grandmaster Miguel Quinteros arranged a meeting between the Dutchman and Borges, a meeting that had a profound impact on Timman. 2nd of March 1982 is still vivid in his memory, the day when he could meet in person one of his favourite writers: Jose Luis Borges!

September 26, 2011

TV Chess Sketch

Maybe you remember the video I posted a while ago, The Master Game from the 80's, aired by BBC. It was a very interesting TV series, with the players commenting their moves, you could listen their thoughts and follow the game. It was a big success back than and it even made it into a TV sketch, as Mark Crowther shares with us on twitter.


September 23, 2011

Chess Story

There are dozens and dozens of technical chess books on the market about how to improve your chess, how to become a champion, how to study this game, top ten x and z, hidden secrets and so forth. And yet, so little good books which are capable to offer the reader a different perspective, with an emphasis on the chess player's personality, a sensitive and sometimes derided subject in the chess circles.
"Chess Story" (also known as "The Royal Game", written by the Austrian author Stefan Zweig, published in 1942) shows us the other side of this pure intellectual meeting of two individuals' brains for a dual upon a 64 square board.

September 21, 2011

Silver medal for Roumania

The Romanian Chess is facing a rebirth: David Gavrilescu achieved the silver medal for his age group, under 8, in the European Youth Chess Championship, held between 10-21 September in Albena, Bulgaria. 

September 16, 2011

Why does White move first in chess?

Have you ever asked yourself why is White the one to make the first move on the board? I never seriously thought about it before, not until today. I don't even know what strange connections or associations took place in my head to come up with this question. Rules are rules and we don't really bother to wonder why they are there in the first place. But just like when you cannot remember a word, a name, and you are struggling with it the whole day long to bring it into memory, so this question gave me no peace until I started to look out for the answer. And it's pretty interesting!

September 4, 2011

Is blitz harmful for your chess?

Have you ever heard the following advice: play some blitz games, it will improve your chess skills?! Me neither:) Well...actually, a few players support this idea, as long as the number of games played online will not interfere with your normal preparation hours. We know it already, whatever turns into obsession, cannot be good.
And yet, what should we understand from this? Is playing blitz a useful practice or a waste of time? What are the others saying?

August 28, 2011

Day trip to Volendam and Hoorn

Our club - En Passant
Make sure that next time you visit Holland, you won't miss two beautiful cities in the North of the country: Volendam and Hoorn! I had the chance to see them both yesterday, in a day trip with the members of my new Dutch chess club: En Passant. Our sponsor, Jan Hopman, gave us the opportunity to know each other better and to have a wonderful boat trip from Volendam to Hoorn. I knew that Holland is a very beautiful country, but not that beautiful! See for yourself...

August 23, 2011

Decision fatigue in chess

Does the following scenario sound familiar to you? You're playing a game. You are not tired nor distracted. You are not tense nor in time trouble. You don't feel any psychological pressure due to various reasons. Quite the opposite: you are fit and happy to play. You have time and you can use it. You might even think for half an hour for your next move - plenty of time to figure out all kind of possible complications. And yet...a mistake arises on the horizon! "How could I have possibly played that move?! - you might think later on. "How could I have been so careless in my calculations?! I was thinking for so long and I suddenly played a move without looking too much at it?!"...

August 14, 2011

Chess Simuls

Inspired by yesterday's event: my husband's simul in Heemskerk, Holland, I decided to write about...simuls. For those with little chess knowledge, it seems incredible that only one person can play simultaneously with even more than 20 players! And quite successfully:) For the more experienced players though, it's not so uncommon that a GM can face up to 40 (or more) players at once. After all, besides playing in tournaments, lectures and simuls are on almost every GM's agenda, to allow others to enjoy their skill and knowledge.

August 5, 2011

Chess Study!

While waiting for Vlissingen games to start, I was browsing a very nice book: "Chess Study Composition", written by the Romanian - Emilian Dobrescu. I recently received it as a present from Yochanan Afek and I like it a lot. I will surely come back with more examples in the future!
For now, just a small teaser, which is kind of difficult by the way:

Can you hold a draw with White?

July 31, 2011

The harder you try, the worse you get

Two days ago, the Dutch Open tournament from Dieren has come to an end. And, as usual, I take some time now to analyse my games, my thoughts, trying to improve the things which clearly need to be improved or to reward myself with some nice words for the things which I did well:) But there is one moment that I experienced, one game, whose understanding might be useful to many of you: my game from the 8th round against the legendary Jan Timman.

July 15, 2011

34th International Open Barbera del Valles

Back to my Dutch home: it's time to draw a few conclusions after the tournament which just finished. From 4th of July until 12th, I've been playing in Barbera del Valles, Spain, and, for the first time, I can say: was not bad at all:) A GM norm and a plus of 48 elo points, is more than I could have dreamed of.

July 7, 2011

Dutch National Championship

The Dutch Championship, held in Boxtel, from June 25th to 5th July, came to an end. Remarkable is the 2849 performance of the champion, your favourite: Anish Giri, with no less than 5 wins in a row, including the last round! In the women section, Zhaoqin Peng won convincingly, scoring 9 out of 10, 3 points ahead of the second place. Only Martine Middelveld, third place, managed to stop Zhaoqin's series of victories, with a win in the 7th round.
Smaranda, our 'spy', has sent us more photos!

July 5, 2011


I am playing in Spain, Barbera del Valles, at the moment. Thus, I cannot enjoy the latest article from the Dutch magazine, Matten, written by my brother in law: Dennis l'Ami. The subject is about Johan van Hulst, the hundred-years old veteran of the Dutch chessworld. To refresh your memory, he was a guest of honour during the closing ceremony in the Tata Steel Chess tournament, 2011. A very interesting chess life story, available now for the public.

July 2, 2011

Dutch National Championship - Photo impressions

The Dutch Championship is already on its second half, soon the sixth round will start later on today. Wouter Spoelman is leading with 4 out of 5 and, in the women section, Zhaoqin Peng is undefetead, with 6 out of 6! Women play a double round-robin tournament, so no rest day for them. But for men, yesterday, 1st of July, relaxation time was in the schedule.
Smaranda Padurariu, WIM, Jan Smeets' girlfriend and my friend, has sent us a big pictorial report from the competition. Thanks Sma!

June 26, 2011

Dutch National Chess Championship

The Dutch Championship started today, in Boxtel, for both women and men. Until 5th of July, in a round-robin system, 10 players in the men section and 6 in the women lot will fight for the title.

June 21, 2011

Close-up: Wesley So!

I didn't have the chance to meet Wesley personally, not until January this year, in the Tata Steel Chess Tournament. All I knew about him was his ascending chess career - a wonder kid from the Philippenes, with an incredible talent for chess. His achievements at an early age, coming from a country without a very long chess tradition, made him famous worldwide.

June 18, 2011

Che Guevara and chess

If you have to use the public transportation, no matter which country you are, I suppose you all experience the same boredom as me, until you reach the final destination. To cope with that, I usually take a small book in my handbag. This time I ran out of chess books, I have to find some smaller ones, to fit my bag:) So I took a compressed Che Guevara biography, which reminded me what I've heard before: that one of his passions was...chess!
Interested by the subject, I used a bit our modern friend - internet - and I came up with the following information:

June 15, 2011

Tata Steel Chess - "Schach" magazine's article

Latest issue
This is my first article which I wrote for the well known German magazine "Schach". It was about struggle, pain and hapiness - high class chess in Wijk aan Zee. It has been a while since it was published in February this year, but I hope you'll still enojy it, in case you haven't read it in the original form.

"Every year, long time before the month of January comes and long time after it’s gone, chess lovers all over the world have one favorite subject to discuss: Wijk aan Zee and its famous tournament.

June 12, 2011

How to be a champion in chess and life

Do you ever get that feeling deep down that you should be able to accomplish much more than you are at present? 

1. Turn your ability into achievement:

Discipline is what turns your ability into achievement. Without it, your goals will always be daydreams at best. Working out two days last week, five days this week, and three days next week will prevent you from ever reaching your podium.

June 8, 2011

TV Chess

I have recently discovered a brilliant TV Chess series from the 80's, which was aired by the BBC, absolutely wonderful! You can actually listen the players comments, how were they thinking, you can follow the game of course and go back in time, watching a very good quality chess video. Enjoy! 

I will come back with new videos in the future, if I will particularly like one of them. This time I attached the game played between Nigel Short and Tony Miles; if you are interested, you can see all videos from the BBC chess series on this youtube channel.
Good luck in your pursuit of chess excellence!

June 7, 2011

Romanian Rapid Cup

Quite often we travel day and night, for hours and hours, to reach a beautiful place, to see with our own eyes a new country, to meet new people...the more difficult it gets, the higher the pleasure we experience:) Might sound a bit strange, but psychologically speaking, it's completely normal. What we achieve easily, doesn't bring us an incredible amount of joy; instead, if we have to fight, to sweat, to spend a lot of money, than we might come somewhere, our pride will be satisfied that no matter how big the barriers were, we managed!

I have been travelling thanks to chess since I was 6, but somehow, I never really took time to explore my own country. I have always said and knew that Romania is an incredibly beautiful place, after all, it's my home! Subcounsciously though, my brain was undermining the idea of going for a holiday in Romania, I can travel around here basically at any time, so why should I do it now?!
Luckily, last weekend I played, together with my husband, the Romanian rapid team cup, which took place in Brasov.

May 30, 2011

Cuca Chess Tournament

Africa...I've always dreamed to put my foot on African red soil, to discover unknown places, to understand the people's life and their history, to eat crocodiles (this idea was given by Sergey Tiviakov:) or just to stare around, absorbing as much as possible.

Many chess players don't realize what a great opportunity they have thanks to the activity we practice. Without chess, probably it wouldn't have even crossed my mind to visit Angola!

May 9, 2011

Luzhin Defence

1st Edition (Russian)
I have just finished reading the book "The Luzhin Defence" by Vladimir Nabokov...a chilling story of obsession and madness. As a young boy, Luzhin was unattractive, distracted, withdrawn, grumpy - an enigma to his parents and an object of ridicule to his classmates. He takes up chess as a refuge from the anxiety of his everyday life. His talent is prodigious and he rises to the rank of grandmaster but at a cost:  in Luzhin's obsessive mind, the game of chess gradually replaces the world of reality. His own world falls apart during a crucial championship match, when the intricate defense he has devised pales  under his opponent's unexpected and unpredictable lines of assault.

May 7, 2011

Weekend Challenge

Mate in two moves...piece of cake, isn't that right?! Strangely enough, sometimes it's not that easy. Try to solve the following exercises, it's fun and useful at the same time. By working faithfully six hours a day you may eventually get to be a notorious GM and work ten hours a day:)

May 6, 2011

Candidates Matches

Two rounds have already passed in the long-awaited event: Candidates Matches from Kazan. So, who will face Anand for the World Title?! Aronian was seen as the clear favourite on various websites and our poll didn't make a separate opinion. But there are still many games to go, we can enjoy their fights much longer and see if the final standings will look like our predictions.

May 4, 2011

Chess and cars

It might sound a bit odd, but chess and cars are not two opposite topics that exclude each other. Chess can be linked to anything, either if it's about branding an entire country (Ukraine) or promoting a bank's loan.
More and more articles are written, where chess and cars can be seen cooperating with each other.

May 1, 2011

Work time

While trying to bring my head into the chess mood, I discovered the following position:

White to move and win
It's not as easy as it seems to be...


April 30, 2011

Checkmate life's problems!

Playing chess:

Chess for a brain, by Yury Bashkin
It is a method of life cultivation and rehabilitation to promote intelligence development. When playing chess, people concentrate the mind on the chessboard and get rid of all distracting thoughts. Therefore, playing chess is applicable to people with distractibility and difficulty in concentrating the mind. Besides, playing chess helps to remove depression and have a light heart. It can be applicable to infantile retarded intelligence development and declining intelligence in old people. 

April 28, 2011

Chess in Iasi

Following the decision taken by Armenia to introduce chess in schools as a compulsory study object, the media begins to pay attention to the subject and wonder if this decision would have indeed a positive impact on children's education or not.

April 26, 2011

Should every child be made to play chess?

April 24, 2011

Chess Easter

Because it's Easter time...let's shift a bit from eggs, bunnies, chocolate, cakes & co, to a place that calls itself the "navel of the world":

April 22, 2011

Attractions in and around Bangkok

Welcome to Bangkok! If New York City is known as "the city that never sleeps" in the United States, well in South East Asia it's twin sister is Bangkok, also known as KrungThep to the locals, which means "City of Angels". KrungThep is actually an abbreviated version of its full name, which has the world's longest name, according to Guiness Book of Records. 

April 21, 2011


If yesterday I was telling you about the Thailand Open and how wonderful it was, today I will continue by presenting you the city which hosted the tournament: PATTAYA.

April 4, 2011

European Championship

After two weeks of tough fights, the 12th European Championship has come to an end. The 11th round tournament has left behind a sweet taste of victory, for some of the players, or a more bitter one for many others. Congratulations to the winners and for those who didn’t qualify, there will always be another chance: next year in Plovdiv!

March 24, 2011

Monaco - Photo report!

Today, the 20th and final edition of the Amber chess tournament in Monaco came to an end. For the third time, Levon Aronian became the overall winner!
Last week, Erwin visited the tournament and underneath you will find a small pictorial impression.

March 20, 2011

International Chess Open - ALIMINI VILLAGE

Haven't you decided yet which tournament to choose or where to go for a holiday? What about enjoying them both in Italy?!
The organizers of the International Chess Tournament - Alimini Village 2011 have the pleasure and honor to invite you all, between 21st and 28th of May, in a splendid location, for an event to remember.

March 18, 2011

Paul Merton in a chess video

For the moment we have a lot of clouds in Holland and it's raining, for hours already. To give this day a cheerful tone, I thought to share with you a funny chess video, which I am sure you'll like, even if you are more lucky than me, enjoying the sun under a palm tree:)

March 17, 2011

64 Squares of Pain

It does feel like that sometimes. Ah, how bittersweet our game can be!
People say that chess is a difficult game. By that, they probably mean that the complexities of the game's strategy and the vast amount of possibilities open to the players on each turn, make it difficult for the novice to master its intricacies.
True as it may be, chess is difficult also in another, subtler way: it is an emotionally difficult game.

March 15, 2011

Chess Teasers

Up for a small test?! See if you can solve these chess problems!
Use resources if you need to, but don't ask other people for help or it won't really be a test of your brainpower. And keep challenging your mind with quizzes and games. More mental stimulation = less mental aging!

March 13, 2011

Chess Evolution

A new chess product has been recently released: Chess Evolution!
If you find yourself in a common chess dilemma, wondering how you can improve your strength, this might be an answer to your worries: a new periodical chess book.
With more than 100 annotated games from January and February 2011 (plus puzzle and endgame sections), with a devoted team behind, working to deliver you the most relevant information by using powerful computers in their analysis, Chess Evolution is a "must have" according to its promoters.
If you are not yet convinced, names like GM's Etienne Bacrot and Arkadij Naiditsch, the authors, might give you enough credit for the book's quality.

March 10, 2011

Interview with Olga Dolgova, the woman behind a top GM!

In an interview given after his loss against Peter Svidler, in the World Cup 2009, Khanty Mansiysk, Alexei Shirov had to answer, immediately after his game, to a personal question:

You came to Khanty Mansiysk with a charming friend? Tell us about her.

Here Alexei faltered. It was obvious that he was trying to find the correct words...