A Tribute to International Master Cristina Foisor

DSC0120(5) Today, the chess world is mourning the loss of another strong chess player who left us too early. International Master, Cristina Foisor, was a supportive and compassionate mother, passionate chess player, and a kind person. You may know, or have heard, of her successes and achievements in chess. On top of winning several open tournaments, she participated in fourteen chess Olympiads, won national championship of Romania five times and qualified for world championship on several occasions. In her best attempt, she reached quarter-final in Moscow 2000. She was scheduled to play in the upcoming World Championship in Tehran, Iran, which will take place in February, but Caissa had other plans for our beloved player. Every culture has its way of expressing grief and we usually remember the departed ones for their accomplishments. However, I believe that it is who we are, rather than what we have accomplished, that matters most and will always be remembered. It is a difficult task to win a game of chess but it is much harder to win hearts. Well, guess what? Cristina Foisor championed in both fields. As a mother, she raised two strong chess players, kind and lovely girls, Sabina (a WGM and multiple-times member of US national team in Olympiads and world team championships) and Veronica (WIM). As Sabina’s fiancé, I witnessed her mom’s love and compassion for her daughters on a daily basis. I also observed how Cristina loved chess, not only for its winnings and honors but for its beauty. 100_0297 Here are a few of Cristina's best games:
[pgn][Event "Reykjavik op"]
[Site "Reykjavik"]
[Date "2015.03.17"]
[Round "9"]
[White "Foisor, Cristina Adela B"]
[Black "Rasmussen, Allan Stig"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "D27"]
[WhiteElo "2394"]
[BlackElo "2532"]
[Annotator "Elshan"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "7r/1p1rbpk1/pnb1pp2/3q3p/3P3P/P3B1P1/1P2BPN1/2RQR1K1 w - - 0 24"]
[PlyCount "67"]
[EventDate "2015.03.10"]
[EventRounds "10"]
[EventCountry "ISL"]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[SourceDate "2015.04.21"]

{Things are not going white's way at all. IM Cristina Foisor finds a sharp
practical solution for her positional problems. [#]} 24. Rxc6 $1 Qxc6 25. Bxh5
Qb5 26. Nf4 Kf8 27. b4 {after more or less a series of forced moves, the
position has become balanced. Black's pressure is gone and white has full
compensation for her exchance sacrifice.} Nc4 28. Be2 Qc6 29. Bxc4 Qxc4 30. Qa4
Qc8 31. Nd3 Kg7 32. Qd1 Bd6 33. h5 (33. d5 $1 {would have led to decicive
advantage for white. We will see this move later!}) 33... Qc6 34. Qg4+ Kh7 35.
Nf4 Rg8 36. Qh4 Be7 {after a topsy-turvy turn of moves in time pressure, white
decides to go all-in!} 37. d5 $1 {now or never!} Qc3 38. Rc1 Qe5 (38... Qxa3 $1
39. Ng6 Qxb4 {is better for black but it needs a lot of gut and calculation to
enter this computer-like line!}) 39. dxe6 fxe6 40. Ng6 Qf5 41. Qf4 Qxf4 42.
Bxf4 Bf8 43. Nxf8+ Rxf8 44. Kg2 e5 45. Be3 f5 46. Bg5 f4 47. gxf4 exf4 48. Kf3
{black is better but see how Cristina Foisor outplays her much higher-rated
player gradually.} Rff7 49. Rc4 Rd3+ 50. Kg4 Rxa3 51. Bxf4 Rg7+ 52. Bg5 Ra4 53.
Kf5 a5 54. Bf6 Rg2 $4 {a blunder in an already equal position.} 55. Rc7+ Kh6
56. f4 $1 {white weaves a mating net!} Rxb4 57. Bg5+ {And mate follows!} 1-0[/pgn]
[pgn][Event "Candidates (Women)"]
[Site "Tilburg"]
[Date "1994.??.??"]
[Round "5"]
[White "Arakhamia Grant, Ketevan"]
[Black "Foisor, Cristina Adela B"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "C92"]
[WhiteElo "2450"]
[BlackElo "2405"]
[Annotator "Elshan"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "8/8/p4k1b/1p1r4/1P2pPKP/2PpB3/1P1R4/8 b - - 0 54"]
[PlyCount "17"]
[EventDate "1994.09.??"]
[EventRounds "18"]
[EventCountry "NED"]
[EventCategory "9"]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[SourceDate "1995.01.01"]{[#]} 54... Rd7 {The position is balanced but white becomes overlly optimist.}
55. Bd4+ $4 {a deadly blunder} Rxd4 $1 {Black does not hesitate to snap the
bishop right away! White's pawn struncture will be shattered and black is
going to win the b4 pawn next.} 56. cxd4 Bf8 57. f5 Bxb4 58. Rd1 e3 {this will
cost white her rook} 59. Rxd3 e2 60. Re3 e1=Q 61. Rxe1 Bxe1 62. h5 Bd2 0-1[/pgn]
[pgn][Event "Le Touquet op 11th"]
[Site "Le Touquet"]
[Date "1996.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Foisor, Cristina Adela B"]
[Black "Levin, Felix"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "A30"]
[WhiteElo "2370"]
[BlackElo "2480"]
[Annotator "Elshan"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "8/7k/p4r2/2pPR2p/2P5/8/P7/6K1 b - - 0 47"]
[PlyCount "14"]
[EventDate "1996.10.??"]
[EventRounds "9"]
[EventCountry "FRA"]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[SourceDate "1998.11.10"]{GM Felix Levin was under pressure the entire game but he managed to maintain
the balance, however, he underestimates Cristina's power play in endgames for
one move: [#]} 47... Rf4 $2 48. d6 $1 {Comes immediately! Rd4 will be met with
Rd5 when black's king is too far to stop white's d-pawn. Cristina's career is
filled with such neat and clear cut ideas wins and I chose this one because I
liked it better!} Rxc4 (48... Rd4 49. Rd5) (48... Rf8 49. Rxc5 $18) 49. Rxh5+
Kg6 50. Rd5 Rg4+ {Sadly for black, he needs to escort white's king to the
center before he manages to get his rook in front of white's passed pawn.} 51.
Kf2 Rf4+ 52. Ke3 Rf8 53. Ke4 $1 {This prevents black's king from approaching
white's passer. A good lesson to remember: quality of pieces in the endgame is
more important than pure material balance!} Rd8 54. Rd2 $1 {final clear cut
winning move which opens the path for white's king march to support the d-pawn.
} 1-0[/pgn]
[pgn][Event "Candidates (Women)"]
[Site "Tilburg"]
[Date "1994.??.??"]
[Round "18"]
[White "Galliamova, Alisa"]
[Black "Foisor, Cristina Adela B"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "A42"]
[WhiteElo "2475"]
[BlackElo "2405"]
[Annotator "Elshan Moradiabadi"]
[PlyCount "60"]
[EventDate "1994.09.??"]
[EventRounds "18"]
[EventCountry "NED"]
[EventCategory "9"]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[SourceDate "1995.01.01"]1. d4 {IM Cristina Foisor had two important distinguishable charactersitics in
her chess: She had a great sense of dynamic play and she also knew quality
matter more than quantity in the endgame. These four positions from her long
and successful career are best descriptive of her style in my humble opinion.}
(1. e4) 1... d6 {This was the first time Cristina played in the world
championship. That means she competed at the world championship level for
thirteen years!} 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 e5 5. d5 f5 $5 {theoretically
unsound but a great surprise for a world championship game.} 6. exf5 gxf5 7.
Qh5+ Kf8 8. Nf3 Nf6 9. Qh4 Qe8 10. g3 Na6 11. Bh3 h6 $1 {This is not just a
preventive move. Black has a very nasty threat} 12. Kf1 $2 {which white falls
into.} Ng4 $1 {Suddenly white's queen is trapped!Now Bf6 is a serious threat.}
13. Bxg4 fxg4 14. Nd2 Qg6 $1 {energetic and accurate. The check on d8 is no
remedy since everything is well-protected in black's camp.} 15. Nde4 Bf5 16. f3
{final attempt to free the queen but Cristina Foisor does not give GM
Arakhamia any second chance.} Nc5 $1 17. Ke2 (17. Nxc5 Bf6 18. Ne6+ Bxe6 {and
white's queen is doomed.}) 17... Kg8 18. Rf1 Rf8 19. b4 Bxe4 20. fxe4 Rxf1 21.
Kxf1 Nxe4 {The game is over. White is down material while his queen is still
stuck on h4} 22. Nxe4 Qxe4 23. Qe7 Kh7 24. Bb2 Rf8+ 25. Kg1 Qe3+ 26. Kh1 Qf3+
27. Kg1 Qf2+ 28. Kh1 Qxb2 29. Rg1 Rf2 30. Qh4 Qe2 0-1[/pgn]
For many of us chess is about winning, but for her it was a constant mental development. She took the joy of discovering little ideas here and there, learning new endgame ideas and many other beautiful aspects of the game of chess. She enjoyed the journey of being a chess player all along. For her, chess was more than a means to an end; it was a philosophical expedition, her artistic signature on Mother Nature. She loved knights and she found them mysterious and mesmerizing pieces. No wonder such an imaginative and original mind had led her to other creative activities such as writing poems, which I hope to learn to read in near future. She is survived by her two daughters, Sabina and Veronica, her husband IM Ovidiu Foisor, and her mother Margaret. Below is a translation of a poem by Persian poetess Zhaleh Esfehani, a pioneer of women's right and feminism in Iran, which I dedicate to Cristina's memory:

“Life is a canvas- a scene- on which we create art

The art, that is as unique to every individual’s brain and mind

We create songs and music yet we depart

 The scene, though, is constantly there to remind: Lucky those whose song will be remembered in hearts and thoughts!”

May she rest in peace.