Iasi – a Romanian chess city

by Alina l'Ami
5/22/2014 – Iasi (pronounced YAsh) is one of the largest cities in Romania, candidates for the very much sought after title of the European Capital of Culture. The first edition of the Iasi Open was held there, from May 10 to 18. But before she really digs into the chess, our reporter WGM Alina l'Ami, who hails from the city, tells us what it is like to live in a place that is in the process of being reborn.

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We don't get a second chance to make a good first impression; on the other hand, only the foolish and the dead alone never change their opinions. Chess players are none of the above, and our in-built strategic thinking, elaborated planning and the tendency of weighing all the options on the 64 squares, might be of good use for what will come next.

Since I always enjoyed placing myself in the other people's shoes, with the occasion of the 1st edition of the International Iasi Open 2014, I did a small exercise: if I was one of the foreign players, how would I see and perceive the city hosting the chess tournament? I know that the general feeling of well-being and the result within the tournament hall are closely related, so this can be a pretty difficult affair... But I will take up the challenge since the subject is close to my heart: Iasi is my hometown.

These are real eggs, decorated by hand! The insides have been taken out through
a small hole at the bottom of the egg.

Traditional clothes, of course all hand made

Made in Romania! Told you, Romanians are friendly and their smiles are authentic

So allow me to start in the most polite manner, by speaking about the weather. Unlike in the past few years, when we used to have a free of charge sauna, at more than 30°C, this time the month of May was fairly capricious: it rained all day long, so that venturing outdoors became a rather daring activity. If this was all right for my Dutch husband, who feels like a fish in the water under such rainy circumstances, for yours truly it was far from pleasant and, perhaps, for the others too. I can imagine the heavy clouds and the impolite winds, which destroyed my two umbrellas, were not great companions, especially for those whose business on the chess boards were far from satisfactory.

But let's assume some players made the most of their time and, at the first ray of sun, they hurried outside on the city's streets. If you are not an adventurer like me, who likes to be culturally shocked and therefore feeling great precisely because of that, some of you might have had a different experience.

The entire city is under construction. Everywhere you go you have to mind your step, since there are plenty of traps around, ready to “welcome” you and your shoes (small tip for the ladies: leaving your high heels in the hotel room is recommended; don't look at us, we are native and experienced). Besides the common holes in the pavement, all around there are cranes, deafening machines used for building or restoring, a lot of dust and pollution. If you add the insane traffic, the crazy drivers and the communist architectural masterpieces, you will get a pretty greyish image, which is certainly far from appealing. And I wouldn't blame anyone if this is how they felt. It is indeed part of my Iasi, which is currently suffering some changes. To some extent I even subscribe to this view, since it is the place I grumble at most. But Iasi is also the place I love most – it is my home.

Anyway, all this chaos from the city is actually more than welcomed by all of us! More than 100 million Euros were distributed by the European Union for several projects, restorations and infrastructure. The entire town is upside down and the population agitated, but for a good cause: the old and beautiful Iasi is ready to try on a new and modern facet, without forgetting its past nor uprooting its inhabitants. In fact, Iasi is a cosmopolitan city too, and once the university year starts, the population doubles! Students all over the world come here for very good reasons: not only for the excellent studies but also for the endless eateries, drinking holes and lovely pubs. The city is alive and kicking!

There is much more to Iasi than a first glance could capture. It was not by pure chance that this city was declared the capital of Romania in the past. It was and still is the cultural heart of our country, the place where the first university was established, a city which delivered geniuses, illuminated minds, poets, writers, leaders and so forth. Their only “mistake” was to be born in a land where its language is not of international resonance, so this is why you didn't hear of them. To translate our brilliant poet for example, Mihai Eminescu, is just impossible. Try to google and interpret the word “dor” which he used so often. In a blog entry entitled Ten Most Difficult Words to Translate Goga Alexandru translated it thus: dor = the longing for someone you love very much, combined with sadness, and the need for singing sad songs. The etymology belongs to “dorinta” which means wish. It’s impossible to translate it. It conveys too much meaning, and feelings! The Portugese saudade and the German Heimweh and Sehnsucht come close without doing dor full justice.

Hundreds of monasteries, churches, theaters and plenty of historic buildings are hiding, within their walls, centuries of architectural creations, legends and stories, keeping our nation’s soul intact: we are authentic, cultured, educated. And we just love our traditions, here in Iasi! So no matter how much dust or how much mud the city has right now, it won't be able to cover our memories, to mop off the steps of Eminescu or Creanga (too bad you cannot read his funny memoirs).

The Palace of Culture and our famous Prince of Moldavia: Stefan cel Mare
(Stephen the Great), known for his resounding victories over the Turks

The only Lipovan Orthodox Old-Rite Church we have in Iasi. The steeples are covered in gold!

The Trei Ierarhi Monastery, built in the seventeenth century in honour of
three saints: Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nazianzus, and John Chrysostom

The church became renowned for the extraordinary lacery in stone which adorns the facades, from bottom to the top of the derricks. One can count over 30 non-repeating registers of decorative motives – a magnificent embroidery made of stone! And by the way, initially it was covered in gold, but legend has it that the Turkish came, surrounded the monastery with huge fires, melted the gold and off they went...

And since I mentioned that Iasi is the cultural capital of our country, should I be surprised that we are one of the candidates for the very much sought after title of the European Capital of Culture 2021? True, we need some time to fix a couple of things, but the cyclically reborn Phoenix bird is not alien to us. We like to follow its example, and we work hard for it.

Apart from its sportive character, chess is also a form of art, and it is safe to claim that Iași is the capital of Romanian chess. In our incubators chess grew strong and popular, spreading faster than a virus, first in kindergartens then in schools and in the future – in universities.

This was the context in which the 2014 Iasi Open took place. So if the first impression was not an excellent one, perhaps you, dear participants, will give us a second chance?! And thank you for the wonderful fight on the chess boards, from which I have selected just a few examples.

[Event "Iasi Open 2014"] [Site "Iasi ROU"] [Date "2014.05.11"] [Round "2.15"] [White "Svetushkin, D."] [Black "Varaciuc, V."] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C00"] [WhiteElo "2544"] [BlackElo "2179"] [Annotator "l'Ami,Alina"] [PlyCount "43"] [EventDate "2014.05.10"] [EventRounds "9"] [EventCountry "ROU"] [Source "Mark Crowther"] [SourceDate "2014.05.12"] 1. e4 e6 2. d3 d5 3. Qe2 Nf6 4. Nf3 Be7 5. g3 c5 6. Bg2 O-O 7. O-O Nc6 8. e5 Nd7 9. c4 d4 10. h4 h6 11. Re1 Qc7 12. Bf4 a6 13. Nbd2 b5 14. Ne4 Rb8 {[#] While I was passing by, checking the games, I was truly impressed by the powerful play of the Moldavian GM Svetushkin; the game continuation is so deep and unexpected that even my engine failed to spot it for a while!} 15. Nf6+ $1 Kh8 16. Ng5 $1 {The only clear way to win; soon after, the riderless horses proved to be too wild to be domesticated and the black king had to abandon any further salvage hopes.} Bxf6 17. exf6 e5 18. fxg7+ Kxg7 19. Qg4 hxg5 20. Qxg5+ Kh8 21. Qh6+ Kg8 22. Be4 1-0

Brazilian GM Alexandr Fier, 2575, finished 13th with 6.5/9 points

The next example is not a tactic nor a position where you should look for a brilliant move. But...

[Event "Iasi Open 2014"] [Site "Iasi ROU"] [Date "2014.05.12"] [Round "3.7"] [White "Ris, R."] [Black "Fier, A."] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "D31"] [WhiteElo "2410"] [BlackElo "2575"] [Annotator "l'Ami,Alina"] [PlyCount "74"] [EventDate "2014.05.10"] [EventRounds "9"] [EventCountry "ROU"] [Source "Mark Crowther"] [SourceDate "2014.05.12"] 1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 c6 4. cxd5 exd5 5. Bf4 Qb6 6. Qd2 Nf6 7. e3 Nh5 8. Bg5 h6 9. Bh4 g5 10. Be2 gxh4 11. Bxh5 Nd7 12. Bg4 Rg8 13. Bh3 Nf6 14. Bxc8 Rxc8 15. f3 c5 16. Nh3 cxd4 17. exd4 {[#]The Brazilian GM Fier never ceases to impress in our eyes with his resourceful play; it is always a pleasure to follow his games although, at times, his strategy might to be a bit too risky. Here he played} Kd7 $1 {The exclamation mark is given for his courage, ambition and lack of any chess taboos. Alexandr just wants to enjoy the game of chess and this worked wonders against the Dutch IM.} 18. O-O Qe6 19. Kh1 Qf5 20. Rae1 Bd6 21. Rf2 Rce8 22. Rc1 Re6 23. Nb5 Bb8 24. Qa5 Rc6 25. Nc3 Re8 26. Rd1 Kc8 27. Qb5 Rc4 28. Ne4 a6 29. Qb3 Nxe4 30. fxe4 Qxe4 31. Rxf7 Bc7 32. Rdf1 Qxd4 33. Ng1 Kb8 34. Rd7 Re3 35. Rxd5 Qe4 36. Qd1 h3 37. Rf3 Re1 0-1

The tournament winner, Axel Bachmann, made very close friends in Iasi

But we should have a look at what happened in the medalists' games. The tournament winner – the GM Axel Bachmann from Paraguay – is another typical exponent of the aggressive South American chess. His tactical skills, combined with some very good technique, delivered no less than 8.0/9! As Axel said, one cannot complain about such a result.

And we can learn from his games too, perhaps from the win over the third place, the Romanian GM Mircea Parligras? I liked a lot that in the first 18 moves Black put his most important lady hard to work, as eight moves were made with the queen! A very nice game and a crucial one for the standings, which I strongly recommend for studying.

[Event "Iasi Open 2014"] [Site "Iasi ROU"] [Date "2014.05.14"] [Round "5.1"] [White "Parligras, M."] [Black "Bachmann, Ax"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "E32"] [WhiteElo "2559"] [BlackElo "2589"] [PlyCount "82"] [EventDate "2014.05.10"] [EventRounds "9"] [EventCountry "ROU"] [Source "Mark Crowther"] [SourceDate "2014.05.19"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qc2 b6 5. e4 c5 6. d5 exd5 7. exd5 Qe7+ 8. Be2 Qe4 9. Qd2 Qg6 10. Qe3+ Qe4 11. Qd2 Qg6 12. Nf3 Ne4 13. Qe3 O-O 14. O-O Bxc3 15. Nh4 Qf6 16. Qxe4 Bxb2 17. Bxb2 Qxb2 18. Nf5 Qf6 19. Ne7+ Kh8 20. d6 Nc6 21. Nxc6 Bb7 22. Bd3 Qh6 23. Qxh7+ Qxh7 24. Bxh7 Bxc6 25. Bf5 g6 26. Bh3 Rae8 27. Rfe1 f5 28. g4 Re4 29. gxf5 gxf5 30. Rxe4 Bxe4 31. Rd1 Rf6 32. Kf1 Rg6 33. Rd2 Rg5 34. a4 Kg7 35. a5 Kf6 36. axb6 axb6 37. Rb2 Bd3+ 38. Ke1 Rh5 39. Bf1 Bxf1 40. Kxf1 Rxh2 41. Rxb6 Rh4 0-1

Third: Romanian GM Mircea-Emilian Parligras, 2559, with 7.5/9

Since the tournament was played in Romania, I cannot leave aside the very nice execution of a Dutch player, mastered by our GM Mircea Parligras; he came third and showed great pieces of calculation, like this one for example:

[Event "Iasi Open 2014"] [Site "Iasi ROU"] [Date "2014.05.13"] [Round "4.7"] [White "Miedema, D."] [Black "Parligras, M."] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "E20"] [WhiteElo "2390"] [BlackElo "2559"] [Annotator "l'Ami,Alina"] [PlyCount "46"] [EventDate "2014.05.10"] [EventRounds "9"] [EventCountry "ROU"] [Source "Mark Crowther"] [SourceDate "2014.05.19"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. f3 c5 5. d5 O-O 6. e4 Re8 7. Nge2 d6 8. a3 Ba5 9. dxe6 Bxe6 10. Nf4 Nc6 11. Nfd5 Bxd5 12. cxd5 {[#]The game didn't last long after the blow} Nxe4 $1 13. fxe4 Qh4+ 14. Kd2 Nd4 15. Kd3 {What else?} f5 { with a killing attack.} 16. g4 fxe4+ 17. Nxe4 Rxe4 18. Kxe4 Re8+ 19. Kd3 Re1 20. Be2 Qh3+ 21. Be3 Rxe2 22. Qxe2 Nxe2 23. Kxe2 Qg2+ 0-1

Final standings (after nine rounds)

Rk. Ti. Name FED RtgI Pts.  TB1   TB2   TB3   TB4 
1 GM Bachmann Axel PAR 2589 8.0 45.0 57.5 42.5 50.25
2 GM Lysyj Igor RUS 2661 7.5 43.5 56.5 38.5 46.25
3 GM Parligras Mircea-Emilian ROU 2559 7.5 40.0 52.0 39.0 41.00
4 GM Prohaszka Peter HUN 2575 7.0 43.0 55.5 40.0 40.00
5 GM Svetushkin Dmitry MDA 2544 7.0 42.5 54.5 39.5 40.50
6 GM Kovchan Alexander UKR 2558 7.0 39.0 49.5 34.5 40.00
7 GM Nevednichy Vladislav ROU 2546 7.0 39.0 49.0 35.0 37.25
8 GM Kovalenko Igor LAT 2611 7.0 36.5 47.0 33.5 36.75
9 GM Sjugirov Sanan RUS 2647 6.5 44.5 56.5 38.0 40.00
10 GM Kulaots Kaido EST 2571 6.5 41.5 52.5 36.0 36.25
11 GM L'ami Erwin NED 2651 6.5 41.5 52.5 35.0 37.00
12 IM Georgescu Tiberiu-M. ROU 2492 6.5 41.5 52.0 35.0 36.25
13 GM Fier Alexandr BRA 2575 6.5 41.0 52.0 36.0 35.50
14 IM Ankit R. Rajpara IND 2506 6.5 41.0 52.0 35.0 35.75
15 GM Jianu Vlad-Cristian ROU 2579 6.5 40.0 51.0 36.0 34.00
16 GM Iordachescu Viorel MDA 2594 6.5 39.5 50.5 34.5 36.00
17 IM Ardelean George-C. ROU 2496 6.5 39.0 50.0 34.0 33.25
18 IM Pavlidis Antonios GRE 2474 6.5 38.5 51.5 33.5 34.75
19 GM Halkias Stelios GRE 2530 6.5 37.5 48.0 32.5 34.25
20 GM Can Emre TUR 2513 6.0 41.0 53.0 35.5 32.00
21   Sandalakis Angelos GRE 2399 6.0 40.0 52.0 33.5 32.50
22 IM Baratosi Daniel ROU 2390 6.0 40.0 51.0 34.0 31.50
23 GM Nanu Costica-Ciprian ROU 2533 6.0 39.5 51.0 33.0 32.00
24 IM Peptan Corina-Isabela ROU 2438 6.0 39.0 50.0 32.5 29.75
25 IM Bok Benjamin NED 2605 6.0 39.0 49.5 32.0 31.50
26 IM Doncea Vladimir ROU 2410 6.0 38.0 50.0 32.0 29.50
27 GM Lupulescu Constantin ROU 2649 6.0 38.0 49.5 33.5 32.50
28 IM Miron Lucian-Costin ROU 2524 6.0 38.0 49.0 33.0 31.00
29 IM Soltanici Ruslan MDA 2342 6.0 38.0 49.0 30.5 30.25
30 FM Cawdery Daniel RSA 2407 6.0 37.5 48.5 32.0 29.50
31 IM Petrisor Adrian-Marian ROU 2405 6.0 37.0 47.0 32.5 29.75
32 FM Aravindh Chithambaram IND 2439 6.0 37.0 46.0 33.5 28.00
33 IM Atalik Ekaterina TUR 2435 6.0 36.0 46.0 30.5 28.00
34 IM Ionescu Doru-Alex. ROU 2342 6.0 35.5 44.5 30.5 27.75
35 IM Manea Alexandru ROU 2396 6.0 35.0 46.5 29.5 28.00
36 IM Petre Nad-Titus ROU 2373 6.0 34.5 45.5 29.5 29.25
37   Hristodoulou Panagiotis GRE 2228 6.0 34.5 45.5 29.0 27.25
38 CM Tomici Stefan ROU 2254 6.0 34.5 45.5 27.5 28.25
39 FM Deac Bogdan-Daniel ROU 2352 6.0 34.5 44.5 30.5 27.25
40 FM Posedaru Bogdan ROU 2369 6.0 34.5 44.0 30.0 25.50
41 IM Vasilevich Irina RUS 2345 6.0 34.0 44.5 28.5 28.25
42 NM Kutnik Alexandru-F. ROU 2119 6.0 33.0 40.5 27.5 23.75

Part two of my final report – actually part four of my reports on Iasi –
with more chess and pictures of players will be pulished shortly.


You can use ChessBase 12 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs to replay the games in PGN. You can also download our free Playchess client, which will in addition give you immediate access to the chess server Playchess.com.

Alina is an International Master and a very enthusiastic person in everything she does. She loves travelling to the world's most remote places in order to play chess tournaments and report about them here on ChessBase! As chance would have it Alina is also an excellent photographer.


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