International Chess Festival Iasi Open

by Alina l'Ami
5/14/2014 – It truly amazes: a €25,000 Open with 150 players (22 GMs, 25 IMs), playing in the Romanian town of Iași. It is pronounced YAsh and is arguably the most beautiful, friendly and hospitable places in the region. This is described by our reporter WGM Alina l'Ami, who hails from Iasi and implores us in a very passionate first pictorial report: Come to Romania!

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International Chess Festival Iași Open

By WGM Alina l'Ami

The first edition of the Iasi Open is being held from May 10 – 18, 2014, in the Sports Hall of Iasi. The Open A, played at a rate of 90 min for 40 moves + 30 min for the rest with 30 sec increment for each move, is for all players and lasts nine rounds. Players are not allowed to agree to draws before 30th move. There is also an Open B for juniors under 12 years old (born after 01.01.2001), and an Open C, which is a blitz competition open to any player, regardless of age. The total prize fund is 25,000 Euros, guaranteed no metter the number of players and their distribution.

My Romania

Staring at a blank page for half an hour can be just the cover for a complex emotional state...

Before writing down these lines I tried to gather my thoughts, my emotions, my feelings towards the country I grew up in – my dearest Romania. All I could come up with were some overly enthusiastic phrases springing up from a way too exalted person – yours truly, writing something which is more of an eulogy rather than an objective article. I am biased, I have to admit that. I just love my country, it is mine, accepting unconditionally who I am. This is the land I belong to, this is where my family lives, where I learned how to speak, to write, to play chess.

It is difficult to point out the reasons why I love Romania, but doesn't this go with any kind of love in general? Maybe the main thing is that I am a... Romanian, and I am proud of that. But since I have been asked several times if it is worth visiting this sadly off-the-beaten-touristic-track destination, I will try to draw a 'fair' image of my beloved homeland.

Come to Romania! We have a country with glorious roots (bear in mind that our language is a Latin one and not of Slavic origins), rich history and an enormous cultural heritage. From beautiful mountains, pristine forests, generous beaches, glacial lakes, mud volcanoes, to picturesque villages, modern cities, horrendous communists architectural reminiscences, UNESCO heritage sites and concrete jungles – a hallucinatory amalgam that will blow your mind, I can promise you that.

But before booking your flight it would make sense to get rid of the confusion (I bumped into this several times) according to which Budapest is our capital... That beautiful city is a capital indeed, but belongs to our neighbors from the West, Hungary; the destination you should look for is Bucharest (or maybe one of the other 16 airports available)!

View Untitled in a larger map

Iași (pronounced YAsh), which is on the north-eastern border to Moldova, is one of the largest cities in Romania, and has traditionally been one of the leading centres of Romanian social, cultural, academic and artistic life. The city was the capital of the Principality of Moldavia from 1564 to 1859, then of the United Principalities from 1859 to 1862, and the capital of Romania from 1916 to 1918.

The neo-Gothic Palace of Culture (Palatul Culturii) houses four museums and the Cultural
Heritage Conservation-Restoration Centre, which hosts various exhibitions and other events.

The Palatul was built in 1906 and served as the residence of the Moldavian Princes

Visitors on the balcony of Palace of Culture can enjoy the view of ...

... the modern heart of Iasi, its social and cultural centre

... and in the beautiful gardens of the Palatul

The above might look like ordinary photos with children playing outdoors. For me this brings back memories of childhood and teenage years spent under an enormous amount of rules, including the very common: "Do not step on the grass! You will get a fine!" It is wonderful to see the new generation growing up in a free and open-minded society.

A modern mall which can compete with any in the West or Asia

Here you can encounter the most fashionable Gypsies in the world

Get out of your comfort zone and visit us! We, Romanians, will be very happy to host you, as hospitality is in our blood. True, at first sight, especially if you are not aware of our painful past, the first impression might be quite the opposite; that we are a stressed nation, with frustrated, cynical, disappointed people, without the civic sense and any shade of faith in our politicians and their political 'innovative' platforms. History has an important word in it, as our genuinely open and kind nature has been mutilated in years and years of communism. Without entering in too many details, Romanians learned the hard way to fear, to doubt, to be incredulous; circumspection is the key word, as often we don't open up immediately, so one should have a minimum dose of patience and try not bother about a frown or two (they are never meant to be personal!); the reason why, if you are a foreigner expecting to be pampered and taken care of straight from second might find our soul as a bit too abrupt, too direct and perhaps even difficult to digest. And you would miss so much...

Years of poverty and oppression could have turned us against each other, but they didn't! Although the scars are still there, Romanians do have families, friends, we respect each other, we are happy, extremely hard workers, ambitious, proud and religious too. The saying which, perhaps, defines us best would be: “to grin and bear it” – we always try at least, to have fun of our misfortunes and bad luck is yet another reason to joke and smile.

Wooden churches can be seen in the Maramures region of northern Transylvania

Don't you want to be an explorer?! You will find here the 'spooky' Transylvania and its 'creatures'. Perhaps you might wish to meet some vampires, to see garlic hanging by doors or people walking around with wooden stakes in their pockets. You won't. All you will find is a very beautiful hilly area, a peaceful region thanks to its calm and kind inhabitants, living in traditional houses surrounded by fortified churches.

Just don't set foot in our country if you are not ready to get stuck in the rather poor infrastructure or if you are not willing to pay for an extra pair of tires, in case you went the whole hog and decided to become adventurous. Renting a car and drive around is not for the fainthearted.

Come to Romania! Mark my words: whenever invited to have lunch or dinner with a Romanian family – fast for a day or two before your visit. One of our favourite ways to show our hospitality is by welcoming you with a shaky table, ready to collapse under the heavy amounts of delicious food. On top of that, you must try the home made wine, which is so good it never leaves our Romanian borders.

A few appetizers make sure you won't starve before the next ten courses are ready...

Since leaving food on your plate or refusing an alcoholic treat is seen as a sign of feeling uncomfortable in their home, to please the Romanians you have to maybe become one of us and, well, grin and bear it?! Saying that you simply cannot have any more will not be accepted, in fact, you will only offend the hosts. So don't come here if you are on a diet :)

Last but not least: you can play chess here, too! More and more tournaments are being organized, including the international open which is currently taking place in my hometown, Iasi. The prize at stake in the A section (5,000 Euros for first place) is respectable even for West-European countries. In Romania it is (almost) unprecedented and has quite a good resonance.

But playing in your own city might prove to be a difficult psychological affair. In addition, after changing more time zones that a human body would stand, I took, hopefully, the wise decision to sit back and relax, while supporting my husband, Erwin l'Ami. Truth be told, while walking around (I am now in the playing hall), I almost feel like touching the pieces and playing myself. But that will have to wait...

Standings after four rounds

Rk. SNo Ti. Name FED RtgI Pts.
1 13 GM Parligras Mircea-Emilian ROU 2559 4.0
2 4 GM Sjugirov Sanan RUS 2647 3.0
3 8 GM Bachmann Axel PAR 2589 3.0
4 10 GM Fier Alexandr BRA 2575 3.0
5 1 GM Lysyj Igor RUS 2661 3.0
  21 GM Manolache Marius ROU 2510 3.0
7 41 IM Miedema David NED 2390 3.0
8 11 GM Prohaszka Peter HUN 2575 3.0
  26 IM Pavlidis Antonios GRE 2474 3.0
10 9 GM Jianu Vlad-Cristian ROU 2579 3.0
  16 GM Svetushkin Dmitry MDA 2544 3.0
  20 GM Can Emre TUR 2513 3.0
  44 IM Bulmaga Irina ROU 2365 3.0
14 30 FM Aravindh Chithambaram IND 2439 3.0
15 24 IM Georgescu Tiberiu-Marian ROU 2492 3.0
16 27 GM Berescu Alin-Mile ROU 2456 3.0
  40 IM Baratosi Daniel ROU 2390 3.0
18 33 IM Doncea Vladimir ROU 2410 3.0
19 2 GM L'ami Erwin NED 2651 2.5
  28 IM Filip Lucian ROU 2455 2.5
  32 IM Atalik Ekaterina TUR 2435 2.5
  38   Sandalakis Angelos GRE 2399 2.5
23 23 IM Ardelean George-Catalin ROU 2496 2.5
  25 GM Badea Bela ROU 2491 2.5
25 7 GM Iordachescu Viorel MDA 2594 2.5
26 18 GM Halkias Stelios GRE 2530 2.5
27 196 I Lehaci Miruna-Daria ROU 1505 2.5
28 12 GM Kulaots Kaido EST 2571 2.5
  47 IM Vasilevich Irina RUS 2345 2.5
30 29 IM Vedmediuc Serghei MDA 2448 2.5
31 83 I Stegariu Alexandru ROU 2113 2.5
32 6 IM Bok Benjamin NED 2605 2.5
  48 IM Ionescu Doru-Alexandru ROU 2342 2.5
34 3 GM Lupulescu Constantin ROU 2649 2.5
35 69 I David Alexandru-Vasile ROU 2186 2.5
36 42 IM Petre Nad-Titus ROU 2373 2.5
37 50 NM Doros Radu-Marian ROU 2334 2.5
38 22 IM Ankit R. Rajpara IND 2506 2.5
  36 IM Petrisor Adrian-Marian ROU 2405 2.5
40 64   Fedotov Eduard MDA 2218 2.5
41 5 GM Kovalenko Igor LAT 2611 2.5

– Part two with lots of pictures of the players will follow soon –


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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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