Players go on strike in Romanian women's tournament

| 0 | Chess Event Coverage
Players go on strike in Romanian women's tournamentThe Cotroceni Women’s International chess tournament, held March 1-11 in Bucharest, Romania, had an unusual finish. The ten female participants went on strike before the final round was played, protesting against the tournament organizer. Among them were stars like Anna Zatonskih, top Polish player Monika Socko, Valentina Gunina and both the Muzychuk sisters.

The women only event was held for the second time, and had the following participants:
  1. Muzychuk Anna 2528, Slovenia.
  2. Zatonskih Anna 2499, USA.
  3. Socko Monika 2495, Poland.
  4. Muzychuk Mariya 2476, Ukraine.
  5. Gunina Valentina 2472, Russia.
  6. Ushenina Anna 2454, Ukraine.
  7. Repkova Eva 2446, Slovakia.
  8. Turova Irina 2428, Russia.
  9. Peptan Corina-Isabela 2415, Romania.
  10. Cosma Elena-Luminita 2343, 120, Romania.

The venue was the Cotroceni Palace in Bucharest, which is the residence of the President of Romania. So far, so good.

However, with different possible winners before the last round, it was surprising to see that all five games ended in very quick draws in the last round. The reason of this became clear from an interview by Evgeny Surov of ChessNews with two participants, Irina Turova and Valentina Gunina, which revealed many other strange things.

Long excerpts from the interview were given in English at Chess in Translation, so we'll stick to a few disturbing quotes from the two players.

Surov: But as I understand it, some people had earlier flights? Otherwise you wouldn’t have had to make such quick draws in the last round?

Turova: Of course. For example, I was playing Monika Socko and we had literally 40 minutes left for our game. Of course, I wouldn’t want to win a point like that without a fair game. From the first day onwards the organiser was promising us money. Each day he’d deceive us: tomorrow, tomorrow…

Surov: You’re talking about appearance money for taking part?

Turova: I’m talking about travel expenses. For example, I flew from Arkhangelsk. My outlay was something like 600 euros for travel alone. That money wasn’t paid, never mind the appearance fee…

The interview shows that the players encountered all kinds of problems. Some of them were not picked up at the airport, there were no score sheets available on the first day (just blank pieces of paper), and the second round was played four hours earlier than was scheduled.

Most importantly, organizer Dan Pasarelu apparently kept on promising to pay the players, but according to Turova and Gunina, day after day he didn't. Out of protest, the players decided not to play their last round games, which they announced a few days in advance. At first the organizers didn't believe they would stick to their plans. Only when they saw some of players with their suitcases in the hotel lobby on the last day, the organizers started to act.

Turova: In the end this Dan Pasarelu appeared at about one o’clock, when we’d already started to go our separate ways. Some people had even handed in their keys and were sitting with their suitcases. We’d decided to have lunch and sat down at the table. Then he appeared, gave us money, told us “to run off quickly and play”. We said that until we’d eaten normally we’d go nowhere.

In the end the players ended up playing pre-arranged draws on all boards, before leaving Bucharest.

Long excerpts from the interview with Turova and Gunina can be read here.
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