In memoriam GM-ICCF Gheorghe Rotariu (22.02.1933-24.12.2018)

Wednesday, January 2, 2019: The End of 2018 brought us very sad news for the Romanian chess: GM Gheorghe Rotariu, the first Romanian ICCF grandmaster, passed away.

Gheorghe Rotariu started his activity as an OTB chess player. His first notable success was the winning of two Bucharest champion titles, in 1962 and 1969. In 1971, he obtained the National Master title and two other qualifications in the National Championship finals, when he obtained wins or draws against ones of the most powerful Romanian players of that time, such as Florin Gheorghiu, Victor Ciocaltea, Teodor Ghitescu, Mihai Suba, Mircea Pavlov, Sergiu Grundberg.

Since his activity as engineer as the Planning Institut for Transportation did not allow him to participate in tournaments, he started to participate in correspondence chess competitions.

He was part of the first national team ever to participate in ICCF Olympiad, between 1961-1965, managing to get into semifinals and, together with Emanuel Reicher, Albert Braunstein, Eugen Rusenescu, Paul Diaconescu and Constantin ┼×tefaniu, to obtain a well-deserved 3rd place.

In 1965 he obtained the National Champion title after a high-disputed final, overpassing great players such as Mihai ┼×uta, I. Berbecaru and Aurel Anton.

Then, between 1968-1972 he was once again part of the Romanian team, who finished in 4th place in the Final of the 6th CC Olympiad.

1975 was the year marking the IM ICCF title for Gheorghe Rotariu and the beginning of a full period of awards and accomplishments in the cc competitions.

The very good results obtained with the national team, earning the first two editions of the Latin CUP, were doubled by his excellent performances in two super-tournaments: the jubiliar tournament celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Romanian Chess Federation, during 1976-1979, won by the world champion Grigory Sanakoev, where he was ranked the 4th, and the "Belgrade 30" tournament, who brought him the title of GM-ICCF, being the first Romanian chess player which obtained the highest title awarded by the ICCF.

In the following years, he focused on participating in the European Individual Championship, winning three excellent rankings: 6th in the EU-FSM 23 final (1981-1986), 2nd in the EU-FSM 32 final (1985-1993) and 8th in the final EU-FSM 56 (1995-1999).

With the emergence of chess software and their intensive use by many of the participants in correspondence chess competitions and also with the age, the performance of the GM Gheorghe Rotariu began to decline. But he did not lose his enormous love for the mind game and neither his desire to keep participate in tournaments. In the last 10 years he has played in not less than 8 finals of the national cc championships, a competition which usually is avoided by the best ranked players in order not to decrease their rating. However, for such a great chess lover, the pleasure of playing against younger and rising opponents together with the desire to pass them some of his tremendous experience have been always more important than the rating.

In the last of the national finals, dedicated to the Centenary of the Great Union, he started on 15 March 2018 at the age of 85. He finished only two games, because God decided on the morning of December 24, 2018 to recall Gheorghe Rotariu near Him, in Heaven, where Mr. Gelu, as his friends used to say, takes with him his immense passion for the chess.

And we were left with the memory of a wonderful MAN, who loved chess very much.

Rest in peace, dear Gelu!

Marius Ceteras & Miron Sferle

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