February 23, 2011

Roumanian National Championship

For every player, in all countries, once a year, there is an important event that shouldn't be missed: the National Championship. First of all: it is a matter of honor and pride to be there and play well. Second of all: always, without any exceptions, "accidents" appear on the boards, due to psychological pressure, tiredness or simply because you want too much to win.
To sum up: this type of tournaments are very interesting to watch and I know many of you love to comment the games or...the players:)
Having all eyes on you, the clubs or coaches behind (pushing you forward in their hope for a new gold medal and money), family and friends worrying about the results and, above all, yourself, with your hopes and dreams - gives you extra weight on your shoulders: responsability.
That's why, winning an event like this one, requires a lot of energy (physically and mentally), a good strategy, a strong character and, last but not least, a little bit of luck.

We already know the winners: Constantin Lupulescu for men and Cristina Foisor for women. Maybe you have watched all the games or none, but if you take a closer look, you will understand better why they managed to show once again their class: they didn't risk too much - they have so much experience behind to finally understand that a draw is a step forward - and they didn't lose even one single game! Especially in the men section, with 11 games played in 9 days (two days with double rounds), it is crucial to use your energy properly and to know exactly when you should preserve it.

Our GM and this year's National Champion, Constantin Lupulescu (2619), was dominating the tournament from the beginning until the end. His result: 8.5 out of 11 and gold medal didn't come as a surprise. He deserved it, he knew when to strike and when to take a rest, his strategy worked perfectly and all his efforts have been paid off.

Let's take a closer look:

  • His strength was visible when Constantin convincingly won 3 games under 22 moves! Marinescu Stefan 1957 - Lupulescu, 0-1 in 22 moves; Lupulescu - Nanu Ciprian 2526, 1-0 in 22 moves; Lupulescu - Dragomirescu Robin 2403, 1-0 in 16 moves!

  • 5 quick draws against Nevednichy Vladislav 2536, Parligras Mircea 2594, Badea Bela 2493, Szabo Gergely 2542 and in the last round against Berescu Alin 2476 - but when I say quick it doesn't mean 5 moves:) Three games were played until move 20, when the players decided to end them peacefully.
  • We can conclude that his experience and strategy merged perfectly and Constantin remained on the same deserved position: first place, where he was right from the very beginning, on the starting list.

In an ideal world, every game game would be played until the very end, every game would be "blood on the chess scene", deserving a beauty prize. In the real world: you cannot always be inspired, you cannot always play like you "don't care" about the result. We all care, especially the ones with families and children to raise, the professional chess players need to make a living out of their games and it is normal that sometimes they tend to be precautious.

If chess would be an olympic sport, where a sportsmen receives after a great result a monthly income from the state, maybe it would help a lot to take away a part of the pressure regarding an insecure future and for us to have more fighting games. In chess things are different, even after a fantastic tournament you still have to re-invent yourself, to find enough strength to win again and again and again...thus, sometimes the games are full with errors. On the other hand, mistakes are more interesting than perfection:)

Such a moment appeared in round 5, this time in the women's competition. Our talented and young player, Irina Bulmaga, 2260, 17 years old, was having the Black pieces against Corina Peptan, IM, rated 2414.
Irina had a great tournament until that point, she has just made a draw against Cristina Foisor, and now her position was looking great but...

How should Black proceed?
Unfortunately, blackouts are part of our games, sometimes we blunder so badly that we cannot do anything anymore. This is what happened in this game as well: Irina chose to go for a forced line, missing one single move: 
18...Nxd4? 19.Rxd4 Nf4 20.Nf6! this is what Irina overlooked and ended the game so fast. Instead, 18...Nxe5 and Black has a very comfortable position.

What a want to emphasize is that, despite this terrible end of her game, Irina came back in the tournament and won all her last 4 games! Judging by her performance, age and motivation, she has everything she needs to become a very strong player! We just have to wait and watch:)

And now, our women champion: Cristina Foisor! I am very happy to see that great performances can be achieved at any age, not only by young genius kids!
This gives us hopes that if we don't succeed now, we might shine later on, just don't get depressed and always fight!
This is exactly the figthing spirit Cristina has and, combined with her experience and stable chess style, it is now normal that she achieved, once again, the first place.
One of the games I liked most was the decisive battle between number 1 of the tournament: Corina Peptan 2414, and number 2: Cristina Foisor 2405. Without making any visible mistakes, Black's position (Corina Peptan) started to get worse and worse and finally White won in an endgame with the same colour Bishops.
A long game, played over 59 moves, and my question is:
Could have Black saved the game in the endgame? You can see the game underneath:

This was a small sample from our National Championship.
Congratulations for the winners! As for the rest of us: shall we work harder and win the next one?!


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