chessbase india logo

Mary Ann's resurgence at Romania

by Marius Ceteraş - 06/11/2019

Second seeded GM Alexei Fedorov of Belarus scored an unbeaten 7.0/9 to win Romanian International Open 2019. IM Artem Omelja of Ukraine also finished with the same score. Due to a better tie-break score, Fedorov clinched the championship. GM Gevorg Harutjunyan claimed the sole third position by scoring 6.5/9, The best Indian performer and the best woman performer of the event was by WGM Mary Ann Gomes who secured fourth place. She performed at 2539 and gained valuable 32 Elo rating points, making it her highest rating since February 2018. A huge report full of photos from the entire festival, games and historical significance of the location as well as the tournament by the Tournament Director FM Marius Ceteraş himself. Photo: Marius Ceteraş

Alexei Fedorov wins Romanian International Open

Second seed of the tournament, GM Alexei Fedorov of Belarus scored an unbeaten 7.0/9 to win the tournament. IM Artem Omelja of Ukraine also finished with the same score. However, due to a better tie-break score, Fedorov became the champion. GM Gevorg Harutjunyan claimed the sole third position with a score of 6.5/9.

Top three finishers (L to R) - Second Runner-up Gevorg, Champion Alexei and Runner-up Artem | Photo: Marius Ceteraş

Alexei performed at 2653 and remained unbeaten

Alexei's best win was against the top seed of the tournament in the penultimate round of the tournament.

Mary awesome at Alba Iulia

Mary Ann is poised to do well | Photo: Marius Ceteraş

The most appreciated result of the tournament was that obtained by WGM Mary Ann Gomes. The two-time Asian Junior girls Gold medalist and three-time winner of the Indian Women's Championship made a beautiful tournament in Alba Iulia, scoring 3 wins and 6 draws against a very strong opposition: 3 GMs, 3 IMs and 3 FMs. Not only she easily achieved an IM norm, but she was also close to score a GM norm, her rating performance being 2539. With such an impressive result, she clearly deserved a place in the Top 3, but was just a place behind of podium, finishing at fourth place. She also surprised the public by her friendly attitude, being always available to change some words with the spectators, and by her fighting spirit, more times playing the longest game of the round. It was really a pleasure to have such a champion in our tournament and she will certainly be invited to join our event next year too.

Mary's unbeaten run earned her 32 Elo rating points, taking her live rating to 2324 which is her highest since February 2018

Mary's best win was against compatriot Akash G where she used the power of double bishops correctly and checkmate her opponent's king at the middle of the board.

The 4th edition of Romanian International Chess Open, a chess festival organized yearly in Alba Iulia by Romanian Chess Federation and Alba County Council, brought together more than 300 participants from 12 countries around the chess boards in various types of competitions during nine days. The most of them come in Alba Iulia not only for playing chess, but also for visiting one of the most important city of Romania from historical point of view.

Few players enjoying Romanian history | Photo: Marius Ceteraş

Despite of its small number of habitants, around 70000 only, the city of Alba Iulia played a very important role in history in the last 2000 years. After the conquest of Dacia province by Roman Empire in 106 DC, the Romans built a strong castrum called Apulum here and setlled there famous XIII Legion which in 49 AC crossed the Rubicon under Julius Cezar’s command. Later in the Middle Age the city was the capital of Transylvania province, also known as Dracula’s land :) The catholic cathedral built in that period is one of the oldest from Eastern Europe and Iancu of Hunedoara (Janos Hunyadi), the hero of Belgrade’s battle from 1456 that stopped the Ottoman Empire advance to Vienna and the middle of Europe, is buried in a grave inside. In the 18th century the Habsburg Empire gradually drove the Turks away from Eastern Europe and built here one of the largest fortress of Vauben style from Europe, which was renovated some years ago and attracted crowds of visitors. Alba Iulia is also connected with the National Day of Romania, yearly celebrated on 1st December, because on 1st December 1918, at the end of the Great War, a great popular assembly composed by delegates from all regions of Transylvania asked the unification of the province with the Romanian Kingdom, in that time composed by other two provinces with large Romanian population, Wallachia and Moldavia. In the orthodox cathedral of Alba Iulia, the kings Ferdinand and Mary was crowned as kings of the unified Romanian Kingdom in 1922.

Problem solving competition | Photo: Marius Ceteraş

With such a historical past and many touristic objectives all around, it’s clear the participants of a chess competition in Alba Iulia would not get bored during the tournament even if their play does not work well :) Returning to the Romanian International Chess Open, it must be said the competition was launched by Romanian Chess Federation in 2016 with the purpose to support the young Romanian players to improve and fight for IM and GM norms in an open tournament with the participation limited to 2200+ players. Alba Iulia was elected as hosting city not only due to its historical and touristic importance, but also because the chess club from here is recognized in Romania as the one which supplies young players of very good quality. FIDE Masters George Ileană, Iustin Ciorgovean and Adrian Sechereş learned chess in the local club, but the most known player from Alba Iulia is IM Mihnea Costachi who recently finished at eighth place in World Junior Chess Championship U-20 at New Delhi. As a former coach of all these young players, I gladly accepted to be the Tournament Director of Romanian International Chess Open in Alba Iulia, because it offers a great opportunity to promote the chess in my city and county, also helping other young players to improve.

Inaugural move is being made as top seed GM Andrei Istrăţescu observes | Photo: Marius Ceteraş

The first two editions were won by GM Vladislav Nevednichy and GM Andrei Istrăţescu, both from Romania. In 2018, when Romania celebrated 100 years in its actual form (more or less because some territories were lost after World War II), the organizers changed the format of the tournament and the 3rd edition was played with exactly 100 participants at start. Amongst them there were the first two players from India who joined the event, IM Visakh Narayanan and WGM Vaishali Rameshbabu. The playing venue was always four-star Transylvania Hotel, the main partner of the event.

The tournament hall | Photo: Marius Ceteraş

Due to the success of the 2018 tournament and the willing of the lower rated participants to come back to play in Alba Iulia, Romanian Chess Federation adapted the format of the competition by creating three sections: section A for players rated 2200+, section B for players rated 1600+ and Alba Iulia Municipality Open for players rated under 1600. The result was the number of participants immediately doubled!

Juniors in action | Photo: Marius Ceteraş

For juniors the rating limit was 2100 in section A, but some wild cards were offered by the organizers to very young players rated under 2100. Amongst them the 12-year-old Dev Shah (India) who clearly proved he deserved the support by playing very well and winning 95 rating points!

Dev Shah gained a massive 95 Elo rating points | Photo: Marius Ceteraş

The line up of the first section included 7 GM, 1 WGM, 6 IM, 12 FM, 2 WFM, so 28 out of 44 titled players, not bad for a tournament with 1st prize around 1500 USD. The conditions to play for international norms were easily accomplished because there were more foreign players than Romanian players. However the first happy player occurred immediately after the start. By winning the first two games, Asian U16 champion Moksh Amit Doshi (India) reached 2400+ virtual rating and the arbiter had the pleasant task to fulfill the first title certificate, because Moksh already had the norms for IM title and all he needed was to accomplish the rating condition to be awarded the title.

Moksh Amit Doshi became the latest IM of India | Photo: Marius Ceteraş

At the end of the tournament the arbiter repeated his work three more times. Artem Omelja gained the GM norm with 7 points out of 9. An IM norm was obtained by Shantanu Bhambure (India), who lost only one game against the winner of the tournament in the first round, but recovered step by step and overstepped the necessary 2450+ rating performance.

IM Artem Omelja scored his GM-norm | Photo: Marius Ceteraş

Shantanu Bhambure scored 6.0/9, finished at shared fourth and secured an IM-norm | Photo: Marius Ceteraş

Shantanu performed at 2449 and gained 39 Elo rating points


Alba Iulia Mayor Paul Voicu and Deputy President of Alba County Council Marius Hategan played against Vishwa Vasnawala and Moksh Amit Doshi | Photo: Marius Ceteraş

The 13-year-old Vishwa Vasnawala also gained many fans in Alba Iulia, including Alba Iulia Mayor Paul Voicu and Deputy President of Alba County Council Marius Hategan, who played in tandem a couple of moves against her and Moksh Amit Doshi at the end of the Opening Ceremony. The other Indian players were also appreciated in Alba Iulia, where the public like to watch fighting games. Likely it’s interesting to mention that 116 out of 197 games played in the tournament were decided, a very good statistics for a balanced tournament.

Alexei Fedorov in action | Photo: Marius Ceteraş

The well-deserved winner of the tournament was GM Alex Fedorov (Belarus) who played very aggressively with the white pieces, winning 4 out of the 4 games in which he had the advantage of the first move. GMs Misa Pap (Serbia), Marius Manolache (Romania) and Andrei Istrăţescu (Romania) were amongst his victims. The runners-up were IM Artem Omelja and GM Gevorg Harutjunyan (Armenia). 


In section B the 14-year-old Bohdan Lozynsky (Ukraine), FM Sorin Levay (Romania) and Valentina Verbin (Moldavia) took the first three places and qualified for section A next year.

Rapid team championship | Photo: Marius Ceteraş

Rapid team winner | Photo: Marius Ceteraş

The chess festival of Alba Iulia also included various parallel events: a rapid team chess tournament, a chess tournament for children, a Bughouse Halloween Contest in which all children played with their faces masked and the trophies consisted in handmade pictured pumpkins, a blitz tournament won by GM Andrei Istrăţescu and a solving problems contest on two level in which the participants had to solve 15 two-move problems in 15 minutes only.

Bughouse Halloween team championship | Photo: Marius Ceteraş

Bughouse winners | Photo: Marius Ceteraş

To conclude, it was a week full of chess in Alba Iulia. Not only competitive chess for professional players, but also chess for everybody who likes our wonderful game and certainly for those children who took a first contact with chess and will join as soon :)

Team India had a fantastic tournament | Photo: Marius Ceteraş

Final standings

Rk.SNo NameTypGrFEDRtgClub/CityPts. TB1  TB2  TB3 
12GMFedorov AlexeiBLR2551BELARUS7,00,551,046,5
211IMOmelja ArtemUKR2424UKRAINA7,00,547,043,5
38GMHarutjunyan GevorgARM2428ARMENIA6,50,044,542,5
428WGMGomes Mary AnnIND2268INDIA6,00,047,043,0
510IMDavid Alexandru-VasileROU2424Acs Sah Club Vados Arad6,00,045,543,0
66GMAndreev EduardUKR2435UKRAINA6,00,044,542,0
724Bhambure ShantanuIND2291INDIA6,00,042,539,5
87GMPap MisaSRB2432SERBIA5,00,049,045,5
93GMManolache MariusROU2548Cs Studentesc Medicina Timisoa5,00,047,544,0
109GMShishkin VadimS50UKR2428UKRAINA5,00,047,043,0


Complete standings


About the Author

Marius Ceteraş is a FIDE Master from Alba Iulia, two-times Romanian Junior Champion in 1992 and 1993 and Romanian Rapid Chess Champion in 2014. He is not a professional player or coach, working as an electrical engineer at Southern Transylvania Electrical Distribution Company (SDEE Transilvania Sud), but during the last two decades taught many children to play chess and coached the best local young chess players. He is known in Romania especially as writer of chess books in Romanian (Guide for Learning Chess, Chess Guide for Students and the series of three tactics books “100 Tests of Chess – Basic Tactical Motifs”, “100 Test of Chess – Attack on King and 100 Test of Chess – Complex Combinations) which are used by almost all Romanian young players who wish to improve.


The article was edited by Shahid Ahmed

Related news:
Marius triumphs in Targu Mures Open

@ 24/10/2019 by Shahid Ahmed (en)