Romfilatelia dedicates to the mind sport an issue of postage stamps entitled Chess!, which will be introduced into circulation on Tuesday, December 12, this year. The issue, consisting of 4 stamps and a First Day Cover, welcomes the chess enthusiasts.
The game of chess, also called the mind sport, is a strategy one with the participation of two players. Its linguistic roots come from Persian, where Shah means king. Originating in India, the game later spread to China, Russia, Persia and various European countries.
The first appearances of this game in the Romanian space are reported around the year 1700 as being practiced by the elites. In the 19th century, it found a visible spread, with the appearance of circles, clubs and specialized publications. The Romanian Academy Library preserves the oldest manuscript about the mind sport, Le Jeu d’echecs (Chess), dated April 4th, 1838, in Romanian translation by Francisk Rusizki.
A reference moment in the history of Romanian chess is the founding of the Romanian Chess Federation on January 4th, 1925, and when the articles of incorporation of the Chess Federation was formalized by the accession of 26 chess circles, on March 14th, 1926. The same day, the first management committee chaired by the writer Mihail Sadoveanu is elected. The chess magazine published in Soroca later became the Romanian Chess Magazine with its publication starting in 1930.
It is worthy of note that in 1924, the International Chess Federation (FIDE) was founded. Romania’s representative, Ion Gudju, was among the 15 signatories.
Among the first titles of International Master awarded by FIDE are those of chess players Octav Troianescu, MD, and Ștefan Erdely, in 1950.
In the Romanian chess elite, Victor Ciocâltea stood out, starting in 1952, as national champion, and then in 1959, 1961, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1975 and 1979. He represented Romania at 11 Chess Olympiads. In 1957 he received the title of International Master and that of International Grandmaster in 1978. In 1962, at the 16th Chess Olympiad, he defeated the famous Bobby Fischer.
Elisabeta Polihroniade is also among Romania’s valuable chess players, winner of 7 Romanian champion titles between 1966 and 1978 and 9 Olympic medals (out of 10 participations). She also was a well-known author of chess works.
A surprising presence in the world of chess is Florin Gheorghiu, who, at the age of 16, won second place at the World Junior Championship in The Hague (1961). Two years later, he won the junior world champion title. He is considered the greatest Romanian chess player of all time. (In 1981, he was the 3rd player in the world).
Among the players of recent times are Dieter Nisipeanu, ranked 15th in the 2005 world ranking, Constantin Lupulescu z(the best active Romanian player, 2015) and Bogdan-Daniel Deac (holder of the title of International Master, in June 2014, at the age of 12). He is considered one of the most valuable Romanian chess players (39th place in work ranking).
However, chess must also be seen as a true mass sport, practiced from the youngest age to the age of senescence. Among the enthusiasts are also many people of culture. Among them, Dumitru Țepeneag, a well-known writer who lived for a long time in Paris, manifested himself both as a player and as a chess theorist. The book published under his name, with the title La Defense Alekhine (Alekhine’s Defence), bears witness.
The stamp with the face value of Lei 22 presents the writer Dumitru Țepeneag in a classic chess player pose associated with the cover of his book. The reproduced images on the stamp, are part of the heritage of the National Museum of Romanian Literature.
On the stamp with the face value of Lei 1.60 is represented an illustrated page of a work, the Game Book, published in 1283 by order of Alfonso X, King of Castile. The work contains the oldest European treatise on chess.
The stamp with the face value of Lei 4.70 illustrates a chess player painted by Corneliu Baba and the painting belongs to the heritage of the National Art Museum of Romania.
The chess table of the writer Mihail Sadoveanu, reproduced on the stamp with face value of Lei 9, belongs to the heritage of the National Museum of Romanian Literature.