Mamma Mia in the Romanian Miami: Mamaia!

by Alina l'Ami
9/14/2013 – In Romanian, a Latin language, it means grandmother, and in an article covering the country's top chess leagues there, the beachside resort had been described as desolate. This year, the country's top guns once again gathered for war in the same locale, but somehow a transformation took place and what was torture has now become fun. Find out how in this lovely article by Alina L'Ami.

ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024 ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024

It is the program of choice for anyone who loves the game and wants to know more about it. Start your personal success story with ChessBase and enjoy the game even more.


Mamma Mia in the Romanian Miami: Mamaia!

By Alina L'Ami

There has always been something that irritated me in the name of our most famous seaside resort, Mamaia. In a somewhat outdated language, it means grandmother, which does not make too much sense when it comes to holidays and having fun. And yet, the desolate image of the place described in my article last year certainly had something in common with the old age of a once beautiful lady...

The eight km-long beachfront of the most popular and expensive Romanian beach resorts: Mamaia

During the summer season, the thin strip of sand extending North from Constanta, is lined end to end with sunbathers from all around Romania, in a "who is becoming more black" sort of competition...

This year, things were different in the way our team championship took place three weeks earlier previously. In the new light, Mamaia offered a very animated picture, sometimes exaggeratedly so, as if anticipating that only a few days later it would fall into the old lady's lethargy again. In any case, my 2013 stay in Mamaia brought to my mind the approximate anagram Miami rather than the grandmother from 2012. But when night after night an incredible melange (or rather Molotov cocktail) of manele (oriental-like low quality songs), house music and fiddler's vibes, sometimes interrupted by summer hits played at violent intensity, when all these prevented me from falling asleep despite earplugs and a smashed pillow over my head, I could not think of anything else than an exasperated Mamma Mia, an even more approximate anagram…

By night, Mamaia morphs into party central, a place to be if you are in the mood for it

Not having a wink of sleep was of little help when it came to convince my tired brain of the Romanian seaside resort’s affability next morning. Had I been a tourist, all my concerns of a good night rest would probably have vanished into thin air and I wouldn’t have even tried to hide from the generalized hullabaloo. But as chess player, partying day and night is not really in the top three of my “to do” list during an important event...

Pedal boats with slides

At any rate, I reckoned that beach towns, irrespective of how you use the calembour above, tend to metamorphose into giant explosive party zones during high season time, so I decided not to be too much of a querulous person, but to rather try and blend in. Sadly enough, the first unfortunate impression from last year obstinately persisted this time as well, despite the significant changes. True, the rather depressing off-season atmosphere had melted away, but I had the distinct feeling that the place was certainly not a “Romanian Miami”, and not even a genuine “Romanian pearl”, as Mamaia is often referred as. It was alive, it was crowded, it was almost everything that a beach town is supposed to be, but still far enough from what I imagine the American (Ed: Brazilian) standards are like.

Miami made in Romania

Romanian Miami?

Was it due to the painful excrescence of the bygone communist times, visible through the “practical” design of many architectural creations; or maybe that the official hotel, “The Pearl”, was anything but an authentic gemstone; or was it the fault of the rather artificial look profiled by the unexpected palm trees around the 45th parallel of the northern hemisphere, or simply the somewhat kitsch-esque feeling bursting from almost everywhere?!

I feared I was turning into the very same grumpy old lady, complaining about everything and anything. This approach is far from ideal but close to the lengths a chess player could go, in a slightly embarrassing attempt to prepare the grounds of an eventual disaster on the chess board. Reasons for a horrendous game can always be found outside of our chess expertise, the validity of which should never ever be questioned!

Truth be told, despite all the quiet from last year, our team didn’t even win a medal; this year though, our “Dream Team” as we like to call it, secured first place after only seven rounds out of nine! We can hardly thank the aestival beats or the hungry mosquitoes for our performance; I would rather repeat the very same old Romanian saying from last year: “people sanctify the place”. Besides, we sometimes did not really notice whether we were on or off season, whether we walked along the Miami or Mamaia beach, as long as we were happy.

Ukrainian GM and our team mate: Kateryna Lahno; she played the first three games, while the last six encounters on our first board have been taken care of Vikorija Cmilyte.

A constant presence in our Romanian League in the past few years: Ukrainian GM Andrei Volokitin, who took the first place not only with his team, AEM Luxten Timisoara, but also for his first board score: 6/8 and a 2761 performance.

The changed atmosphere did not affect the men’s competition too much though; and as if this were not enough, the migration of the strong players Nisipeanu and Vajda from Apanova Bucuresti to the team from Baia Mare had no significant effects. Indeed, the ranking in the medal zone remained the same as in 2012...

"Are you really going to play that, Viktor?!" (Romania's strongest GM: Liviu Dieter Nisipeanu and Hungarian GM Viktor Erdos, playing for Clubul de Sah al mun.Baia Mare, who took the second place in the final standings)

In team competitions, especially in such individualistic sports like chess, the cohesion amongst its members still counts more than some would imagine. I can honestly say the self-awarded name “dream team” was not a forced one but simply the accurate description of the way we felt. In a true modern pollyannic approach, following the very kind example of our team mate Viktorija Cmilyte, we managed to accept the place, to understand that everyone was playing under the same conditions and ultimately: to even enjoy it!

Lithuanian GM Viktorija Cmilyte, needless to say how kind she is, you can read that in her eyes within seconds. Note the...earrings

Such an interesting process, to see how the nightmare changes into a beautiful reverie...the music was not a disturbing factor anymore but a background (yes, pleasant!) noise, signalling the generalized contagious euphoria; the palm trees were not Martians anymore but elements to complement the environment; the 10 square meter rooms evolved from ‘claustrophobic’ to ‘cozy’; as for the kitsch-esque stalls – we found there one of the best ice creams we have ever eaten!

Another Ukrainian GM, playing on the first board for our CS Politehnica Iasi men's team: Evgenij Miroshnichenko

My beautiful team mates and friends: WIM Smaranda Padurariu and soon IM Irina Bulmaga!

Maria-Ruxandra Ilie, playing for ACS Sah Apa Nova Bucuresti, gave me a hard time in our over-the-board fight, showing she deserves to be higher rated!

Armenian GM Elina Danielian, playing on the first board for CS AEM Luxten Timisoara

The last round displayed our team’s cohesion in an unexpected way. We took our games very seriously, despite having lost the main sporting motivation. We may have lacked a bit of energy since all the games ended in draws, resulting in the only match we failed to win! I mention this incident because it is better to make it clear that this was not an intended present to our opponents who won silver medals as a result, at the expense of AEM Timisoara, who finished third.

Despite the financial crisis in Romania and the increase of board numbers in the women section (from last year’s three to this year’s four, which is great by the way, to prevent unfortunate accidents), this edition of the Romanian League drew the full amount of participating teams. If last year only eight teams were present, this time the full line-up was ready to fight for the first places and, why not? To enjoy the summer time on the Black Sea coast! After all, I shouldn’t paint the devil darker than he really is. People have different needs and what seems to be the ultimate nightmare for some, could easily be a source of inspiration for others.  

For some reason, there is always a lot of pressure on those who finish last in the team, since the match will be decided one way or another...

I shouldn’t forget to mention the strength of this year’s edition either, both in the women’s and men’s sections, with 30 GMs, of whom ten were rated over 2600, including Volokitin, Berkes, Nisipeanu, Erdos (to name a few), and well-known women players such as Lahno, Cmilyte, Danielian or Atalik. With such a line-up, I am sure you will now find the matches appealing, in case you haven’t been following them live.

While in the women’s championship it seems that our CS Politehnica-Antibiotice Iasi clearly dominated the field (trust me, it’s never as easy as it looks!), the winners’ route to the gold medal was cluttered with thorns in the men’s section. After losing in the second round against a supposedly weaker team, the favourite AEM Luxten Timisoara claimed the rights for the first position in the decisive match from round seven against Clubul de Sah al mun. Baia Mare.

Yours truly, Alina L'Ami, with the same type of fashion items and...

...the author of the aforementioned hand made jewelry and our team mate: Smaranda Padurariu! We now know the secret weapon for our success: the shiny beads.

IM Ekaterina Atalik

The attention in this match was polarized by the nerve wrecking encounter between Constantin Lupulescu and Levente Vajda, which eventually ended in a draw, though not without causing a remarkable rise in blood pressure  for both team captains... Maybe not all the tactical ideas displayed in this game were correct, especially in time trouble, but it certainly is a game to see!

And yet...the ace from the AEM’s sleeves was GM Vladislav Nevednichy, who went on to win all eight games he played! Could such an outstanding performance be put on the magical Romanian sun?! It is interesting to note that the only match AEM lost was the one where Nevednichy didn’t play – what a blunder, captain!

Ready for war: the seventh decisive encounter between AEM Luxten Timisoara and Clubul de Sah al Mun.Baia Mare; a lot of calories have been burned during this match.

Draws' inflation: the last round faced a lot of peaceful agreements

Now that the tournament is over and we have a nice little gold medal in our pockets, I cannot say I had a bad time whatsoever. On the contrary, the rhythm we had was great, the weather just perfect, the chillies Viktorija and I enjoyed with almost any meal - unforgettable…

First place: our CS Politehnica-Antibiotice Iasi team

Winner: CS AEM Luxten Timisoara

I happened to hear some sort of joke at the expense of Mamaia. It claims that high profile people heading for the Miami beach, landed by mistake on the Cinderella coast, Mamaia. I feel completely outraged. First of all there is no airport in Mamaia. Secondly and more important: say what you want but I will always keep a respectful attitude towards my grandmother!

Complete Men's standings

Complete women's standings


The games will be broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 12 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.

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.


Rules for reader comments


Not registered yet? Register