Romanian Team Rapid Cup – Impressions of Bucharest

by ChessBase
6/7/2012 – Every year around the same dates, end of May – beginning of June, the Romanian Team Rapid Cup is being held. It was a weekend of frenetic chess, and meetings with old friends, but above all, it was a chance to rediscover Bucharest, once known as 'Little Paris', and remake a distorted impression, in this beautifully illustrated report by Alina L'Ami.

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Romanian Team Rapid Cup – Impressions of Bucharest

By Alina L'Ami

On the way to Bucharest the weather was not on our side – we even had to pull over,
and wait for nature's fury to pass before continuing.

Every year around the same dates, end of May – beginning of June, the Romanian Team Rapid Cup is being held. For this edition it was Bucharest’s turn to be the host for both men and women’s competitions.

A family of Romanians dressed in traditional garb

It was just one weekend, the 2nd and 3rd of June, but how exhausting it can be to play almost non-stop chess at the rhythm of fifteen minutes on the clock, plus ten seconds for each move! Time was running down unimaginably fast to our team captains’ horror…it was a very intense weekend but also a great opportunity to meet our chess friends, since many Grandmasters participated.

Manuc's Inn was built in 1808 and by the middle of the 19th century, it was Bucharest's
most important commercial complex, with 15 wholesalers, 23 retail stores, 107 rooms
for offices or living, two receiving rooms and a pub. It has been subject to numerous
restorations, including one now, but its essential structure remains intact.

The current Manuc's Inn

It's very beautiful: the wood, the details and the shapes were a perfect match

It is a polar place for wedding shots as well! There were three
weddings on Saturday, during the first day of our competition,
and all of them chose this location for their lifelong memories.

Besides the competition itself, which will always attract kibitzers due to the fast time control, the tournament hall was also out of the ordinary. Built in the 19th century by the legendary figure, ‘Hanul Manuc’, this hotel has a special character and charm which instantly captured my attention. I was literally brought back in time, before the tough historical years when Romania had to deal with the legacy of Nicolae Ceausescu.

The tournament hall

The winning team in the women's section - AEM Luxten Timisoara

CSM Bucuresti finished on the fourth place Corina Peptan, in the bluet-shirt, is the
number one in Romania on the women's list.

With Dieter Nisipeanu, our player in the King's tournament from Bazna, and my husband Erwin l'Ami

Erwin with Mihail Marin, waiting for the next round to start

Lunch break

Our young and talented player: Irina Bulmaga, a member of our team: Politehnica Iasi

The tournament trophies

In second place: our team - Politehnica Iasi

First place: AEM Luxten Timisoara - team members: Anna Zatonskih, Cristina Foisor
and Andreea Cosman (in each team there must be one board for a junior player - under 20)

Second place in the men's competition: our team - Politehnica Iasi

First place was ACS Sah Apa Nova One

To be honest, I was never a big fan of our capital, not until last week anyway. What could possibly be so appealing about those grey housing blocks from the communist’s brutal rebuilding phase?! The good old days when Bucharest was called the ‘little Paris’ are gone, if they were there from the first place anyway…

A fallback onto the old days when Bucharest had earned the name of 'Little Paris'

Ceausescu’s megalomaniacal vision of grandeur for the capital turned the whole city into one big concrete jungle, culminating with massive structures like the Palace of the Parliament; which is, by the way, the communist bon voyage ticket and one of the biggest tourists attractions, since it is the world’s second largest building, after the Pentagon!

The Palace of the Parliament, built by Ceausescu, the one of the largest buildings
in the whole world, second only to the Pentagon.

But beside that, I could never see a reason to stay for more than half a day. And it has changed.

The old glory of the past is being resuscitated...

...but there are still many things to be done.

Tradition still thrives in today's modern age

Some things never grow old

Local elections in entire Romania; it's a very popular habit to have big posters on the
buildings and I have been told that the people who's view is damaged get a financial
compensation. Wondering if they still have light in their houses though.

Without a doubt, Bucharest has its problems – taxi scams, loads of glue-sniffing beggars, horrible traffic, packs of homeless dogs – but it has a heart too. After all, even an onion has layers. I finally realized that our capital is one of those places whose superficial reputation is not necessarily deserved. And I was unfair too. But this weekend I discovered such a bizarre mixture of past and present that I saw myself forced to change my first impression. Bucharest's old town is alive with locals drinking and eating and smoking their troubles away; cafes, bars and restaurants overflow into the pedestrian streets – it was a real pleasure to see that Bucharest has something going on!

An old tainted memory of a gray drab Bucharest no longer seems to apply

In short, this was our Romanian incursion, but expect more soon. At the end of this month, the Bazna tournament will start, so you will hear more!

Final standings for men
Final standings for women
Tournament website

Pictures by Alina L'Ami

Copyright ChessBase/Alina L'Ami

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