February 21, 2011

Roumanian National Chess Championship

Sărata Monteoru

Roumania's National Chess Championship was hosted this year by Sărata Monteoru, a well-known spa, placed at 86 m high and 105 km far away from Bucharest. Despite my performance, which I am trying to forget, I still enjoyed the tournament, the place and the entire organization. If I am saying this, me, a player with only 5 points out of 9, without having faced the strongest opponents, it means that something was special there, something was done right, so that even the most unfortunate ones would feel great:)

The National Championship was being played between 12 and 20 February, as an open tournament, with 9 rounds for women and 11 for men. A few technical details:

  • 138 players in the men section, of which eight were GM;
  • 35 players in the women tournament, 5 being WGM and 2 IM (Peptan Corina-Isabela and Foisor Cristina-Adela);
  • The prize fund was aprox: 7000 Euro, with many prizes in different categories, to stimulate the rising talents; the winner in the men's tournament took 1000 Euro, while in the women section 600 were offered.

Final standings:


1. Lupulescu Constantin (2619)    8.5
2. Miron Lucian Costin (2509)       8.5
3. Parligras Mircea-Emilian (2594)  8.5

The winners - all three players scored 8.5 out of 11!
From left to right: Parligras, Lupulescu and Miron.

1. Foisor Cristina-Adela (2405) 7.5
2. Bulmaga Irina (2260)           7.5
3. Peptan Corina Isabela (2414) 7

The President of our Roumanian Chess Federation:
Constantin Dumitriu, together with the champions!
From left to right: Bulmaga, Foisor and Peptan.

On chess-results you can find more details about the tournament and final standings for both, women and men.

Sitting comfortably in my chair right now, I am thinking what went wrong, what happened with my brain that caused me to lose so many rating points, -33 in only one tournament. Some people kindly suggested that married life doesn't help me much:) Or that I didn't prepare enough. Honestly, I am still investigating, which makes me very happy! I can take an objective look much faster than usual, immediately after the last round has finished! 
So far I managed to draw an important conclusion: no external factors influenced my tournament. The organization was simply perfect and I can easily compare it with the so called "high class" ones. Looking back, I am amazed what can be done with little money and a big heart. The tournament director: Mihai Posedaru, and all the generous people who made this tournament possible, deserve our deep respect and gratitude.

Sărata Monteoru

Being an old settlement, Sarata Monteoru is attested for the first time in a document by the Ruler of Wallachia in 1482-1496, a fairy tale land and shelter for the gentry of those times. The Greek merchant Grigore Stavri, who will become the nobleman Grigore Constantinescu Monteoru, changes Sarata Monteoru locality into a spa, famous for its salty watered springs and rheumatic treatments facilities. The spa is surrounded by afforested hills and terraces with vineyards, a beautiful place interesting in any season, especially because of the fresh air and the natural beauty.

In the proximity of the spa there are many touristic objectives, such as: Ciolanu Monastery, the Sculpture Camp from Magura, the muddy Volcanoes from Berca, which is a unique European phenomenon...all visited by the players who wanted to do something else besides worrying about their games:)

The main road in Sarata Monteoru, also the road
we always took to reach the playing halls.

After 5 months of being away from home (Roumania), I suddenly landed in the middle of...nowhere I thought. Unfortunately, many times our mind gets lazy and tends to use preconceived opinions, without adequate evidence. I was thinking: "And again...we will be far away from civilization, a place difficult to reach, without any facilities..." 
And what do I find?! A professional organization, a beautiful place, people working so hard to make everything for us! Besides chess, there were many other side events or excursions especially designed to take our mind off chess for a while, to know each other better and to spend our time in a very pleasant way. We have a beautiful country and I am happy that sometimes we can actually show it. With a lot of work, determination, most probably plenty of unslept nights and stress, a nice tournament can be organized here, in Roumania. Once again, I congratulate Mihai Posedaru for being next to us, taking even the role of our luxury "driver" to the playing hall!

Let's see how chess can be combined with many other indoor and outdoor activities:

The accommodation for our chess club (we were 25 players from Iasi, my hometown) was assured in  Olga Villa, where the owner is...the tournament director:) Maybe one of the multiple reasons why we really felt like home!

Our luggage, patiently waiting to be dragged inside:)

You might laugh of what I am going to say next, but I can assure you I had a wonderful feeling to be back in Roumania after almost half a year, and...to have "mămăligă" on our plates!

Mămăligă is a dish made out of yellow maize, traditional for Roumania; it is better known to the rest of the world in its Italian  form - polenta. Historically a peasant food, it was often used as a substitute for bread or even as a staple food in the poor rural areas. However, in the last decades it has emerged as an upscale dish available in the finest restaurants. All in all, I was clearly missing my country and there I had the chance to "taste" it again:)

The tournament's banner, warning us we should better
be ready for some games...:)

We had a separate playing hall from men; this building
was the "lucky" one to host the ladies:)

Before the tournament started: exploring and
discussing strategies.

Our young and beautiful talents!

Women's playing hall.

Smaranda Padurariu, WIM and girfriend
of Dutch GM Jan Smeets.

Men's playing hall.

Georgiana Morea, 16 years old, member of our chess club,
decided to play against men this time and...
...wondering who has tougher times to focus:
Georgiana or her handsome opponent Tiberiu Georgescu?!
All we know is that she lost the game but not the war:)

No luck in chess?! Don't worry, you might get it in a card game:) After a few rounds, in one evening was organized in our villa a bridge competition, where Iozefina was the only woman to answer the challenge.

Again calculations?! Fair enough, it is not chess this time:)

WGM Iozefina Paulet, girlfriend of the
Dutch GM Jan Werle, studying law in Groningen
and successfully competing in the bridge contest!

Iozefina had to face professional bridge players!
Anyway, she had a great time, thanks to her friend
from Holland (bridge world champion), who tought her the game. 

Because we are living here, in Roumania, and we could "always" go to visit the places which deserve attention, we actually never do it. This time we took our chance to see something that we are proud of, thanks to the organizers invitation.

Nature has been extremely generous with the inhabitants of Buzau County and it offered them a valuable richness of places that are unique both in Roumania and the world. A part of this nature's richness was included in protected areas due to its scientific or landscape value.
The Berca Mud Volcanoes are a geological and botanical reservation located in the Berca commune in the Buzau County. Its most spectacular feature is the mud volcanoes, small volcano-shaped structures typically a few meters high caused by the eruption of mud and natural gases.
As the gasses erupt from 3000 meters-deep towards the surface, through the underground layers of clay and water, they push up underground salty water and mud, so that they overflow through the mouths of the volcanoes, while the gas emerges as bubbles. The mud dries off at the surface, creating a relatively solid conical structure, resembling a real volcano. The mud expelled by them is cold, as it comes from inside the Earth's continental crust layers, and not from the mantle.

The mud volcanoes create a strange lunar landscape, due to the absence of vegetation around the cones. Vegetation is scarce because the soil is very salty, an environmental condition in which few plants can survive.

In case you didn't know, the roumanian song "Let me try" played by Luminita Anghel and Sistem, won an honored 3rd place in 2005, in the Eurovision competition. I am telling you this because the video was filmed right here, where we were walking between the muddy volcanoes.

Searching for...chess novelties?!

Religion: an important part of our cultural identity. Dotting the natural landscape are rustic villages where local people live and keep alive traditions for hundreds of years. There is an abundance of religious architecture and medieval towns and castles.
Romania is different by anything you experienced before. Is a place full of mysteries and legends where castles, fortresses and churches emphasize the beauty of the landscapes. The blend of medieval architecture and western modernism makes it an unique and rich experience for every traveler. 

Ciolanu Monastery, attested in documents from the 16th century.
Meditate for your inner peace; our monasteries are
a symbol of the unique and rich cultural heritage
of Roumania, due to their rarity and beauty. Believe or
just see it as a form of stress management...it will surely help
and prepare you for the next games.

On the other side of Ciolanu Monastery, in a large glade surrounded by ancient woods, the Roumanian artists had the chance to freely carve in Magura stone. Their sculptures create a charming atmosphere and the place is visited by many tourists who come to picnic in weekends or admire the statues related to the forest and mountain. The camp next to Ciolanu Monastery includes 256 works of art carved in limestone belonging to the quarry from Ciuta. The old tradition of carving in stone (which is specific to Buzau) gave birth to the idea of "populating" this area with amazing stone pieces carved by the artists from the entire territory or by the famous carvers known within or beyond our national borders.

Another highlight in Roumania is the...wine! White, rose or red, wine is part of our culture, it is a symbol of our hospitality and those who visited Roumania know very well what i am talking about:) You will never be able to leave a Roumanian home without drinking at least one glass of good wine:)
And because, as I mentioned before, we were welcome in this tournament with open arms, we couldn't go away without trying the famous "Pietroasa" wines.

Wine tasting - many "interesting" positions
appeared on the board that day:) I haven't been there
though, but I know the wine is very good.

Another opportunity for the players to meet and talk (usually still about chess:)), appeared with two different occassions, in two different evenings:

  1. Valentine's Day
  2. Official Dinner, where sponsors, players, organizers, coaches and parents gathered together for a great time, with good food and folk music. Everybody enjoyed that evening, an easy conclusion to draw if you see their happy faces while dancing:)

And this is how chess can bring a lot of happiness in your life...maybe a new partner, a new idea, a good word, some wine and food...afterall, life is not that bad, even when losing a few games:)

Folk music and dancers

Irina Bulmaga, a very promising and talented young player!
Irina, is that wine in your glass??!

And Mircea Parligras, one of our well known GM:
See?! Chess players can enjoy their time,
even being far away from their board!

Mircea is surrounded, but it seems he doesn't mind:)

And now, back to our tournament:

Waiting outside of the playing hall...interviews were
being taken by the local television. So it was for a good cause:
to promote chess.

The women title was not decided until the very last moment. The final last round was the most crucial one, when everything could have been changed. But both leaders before the last round did what they were supposed to do: Irina Bulmaga won against Mihaela Sandu and  Cristina Foisor won against...her own daughter, Veronica!  

Mother and daughter playing against each other!

Irina Bulmaga against Mihaela Sandu.

Closing ceremony.

Waiting for their prizes

Father rewarding his son!

And now I get it, now I understand how come it was possible for this tournament to take such a beautiful shape: the son of the tournament director, Bogdan Posedaru (see the above picture), was playing there as well. They are a chess family so they know the problems chess players are facing very well. Because of this they know how to prevent them!

We hope to see you next year again!


  1. Thank you for the nice thoughts about the orgaisers and the description of Sarata Monteoru.

    I wish to thank through your blog to all the players who took the chance participating to the national finals in the unknown Sarata Monteoru! We all know that without you, the chess players who anonimously work all year long in order to shine for few moments at the end of the tournaments, our work would have been aimless.
    The organiser team had only one goal: to offer the chess players the conditions they deserve but unfortunately they were so seldom offered to previous tournaments.
    We sincerely think that the romanian chess world must speak louder and ask to their rulers for better conditions, setting as a minimum standard ( excuse please my lack of modesty)at least what was offered by Sarata Monteoru.

    It was possible, you , romanian chess players deserve it, why not continue the same way from now on?

    It was a pleasure for all five locations which hosted you to be rewarded with your beautiful and sincere smiles.

    After 48 hours from the end of the tournament, we can answer to a question so many participants of you asked to us: we shall compete also in 2012 to organise the national finals, not only because we still have so many beautiful places to show to you, but because we want to show you that anything can be improved.

    Monday morning, we presented to the City Mayor and to the County Council how the tournament went, and they both promised that they shall continue to help us to improve the next tournaments Buzau shall host.

    And something about last photo: We decided to give a coosolation prize to the best Buzau player, Bogdan Posedaru, which ranked 16 place at the end of tournament, the first position without a money prize. I hope I shall not be judged to severe for this decision.

    Thank you again and you will always be wellreceived in Sarata Monteoru !

    From the part of organisers team,Mihai Posedaru

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