About us

Raluca

WIM Silvia Raluca Sgircea

I started learning chess at the age of three with my father, who is a big passionate of the game. He was the one who guided my first steps and the only opponent I had until five, when he decided I had gotten strong enough to take me to the local club (in Drobeta-Turnu Severin, Romania). My first attempt was a failure, as I got rejected because I was too young to be in a club. Nevertheless, I kept playing and training with my father and, when a local open tournament was organized half a year later, I signed up and had very good results against the more experienced club players. I also won a small trophy (my first one!), which I managed to break on my way home, because of my overjoy. That was the moment I was accepted in the club and, besides my usual home practice, I started taking lessons every weekend.

I played the first official tournament at six, winning the third place in my U10 age group. One year later I started playing in the national championship and managed to win my first silver medal in 1998, at the age of 8. I repeated the performance in 1999 and, as a result, played the European Chess Championship, where I won my first European title in the U10 group. This was the start of my chess career, as I continued winning other national medals, European rapid and blitz titles and placed 4th in the U12 European Championship in 2001.

I moved to Bucharest in 2004, a difficult step for me, because I was just starting highschool. However, it was the right thing to do, as I was already travelling to the capital city for lessons with GM Constantin Ionescu.

I was awarded the Woman International title in 2011, after completing the final norm in the Women National Championship, where I scored 6.5 points and finished fourth. The first Woman Grandmaster norm came in 2014, in Benasque Open, with a score of 4.5 points out of 8 games.

For more information and details on my chess results, you can check the enclosed CV


12

IM Renier Castellanos

I was seven years old when I first saw my grandfather and my cousin playing a casual chess game which I didn’t hesitate to interrupt by bringing the captured pieces back into the board. That’s how it all started for me. My grandfather loved chess and taught me how to play. After I knew the moves he took me to the local club in Matanzas (Cuba) where I met my first teachers and started taking lessons every weekend. I developed quickly, constantly practicing at school, at home, and started playing regional tournaments. My biggest achievement in my home country, before leaving it, was a silver medal in the nationals in 1997. I was, at that time, 15 years old and unrated.

In 1997 I moved to Chile, where I quit chess for two years and half. I started playing again in 2000, unfortunately with a bad result in the U18 Pan-American championship. After this, I started training seriously and won many tournaments in Chile. I became twice the U20 national champion and won other open and rapid tournaments. The chess scene in Chile was very lively, but there weren’t many strong events, only strong players. I remember pumping my FIDE rating to 2489 without achieving a single IM norm.

In the summer of 2003 I moved to Spain. I wanted to become an International Master and Spain turned out to be the perfect place, by playing one open tournament after another. My goal was achieved in about 6 months and, besides playing, I also started to coach, both personally and online, with good results for my students.

Between 2009 and 2011 I was based in Montreal, Canada, where I played almost every tournament in the area. It was a completely different chess scene from what I was used to, nevertheless great.

Nowadays I live in Valencia, Spain and I am still a very active player, participating in tournaments, but also involved in training.

You can find more details on my chess journey in the attached CV.