The World as a Chessboard: Meet Student Daniela Movileanu

Daniela Movileanu studies International Affairs with a minor in Philosophy. Originally from Romania, she moved to Italy with her family when she was eight. A long-time chess player, Daniela is a two-time (and currently reigning) Italian champion and a member of Italy’s national team. She recently founded and is the president of JCU’s Chess Club.

How did you get involved with chess?
I was 8 and it was my first year in Italy when I heard of a course in scacchi at school. I didn’t know the meaning of the word, but I decided to sign up just because some friends of mine had done so. I eventually understood that it meant “chess” the day before the beginning of the course, when it was too late to back out. I started quite reluctantly, until I attended a screening of Bobby Fischer Against the World at school in 2008. Seeing that chess goes far beyond simply moving some pieces, and that there were people like Bobby Fisher who dedicated their entire life to the game, made me fall in love with it. After that, being a part of the competitive chess scene definitely boosted my interest in the game. Once I was participating in tournaments I was much more driven to studying and practicing. The fact that I was able to achieve good results quickly was also very helpful, as many people quit when this doesn’t happen.

Daniela Movileanu

Daniela Movileanu

Can you tell us about the journey to becoming Italian champion?
I won three Italian Youth Championships – in 2009, 2011, and 2012, but after I turned 16 I couldn’t take part in national competitions anymore because Italian citizenship was required. I eventually got the citizenship in 2014, so the following year I could play the national Women’s Championship, which I won, and be part of the national team in the European Team Championship in Reykjavik, Iceland. In 2016 I won the Italian Women’s Championship once again and I was a member of the national team at the Chess Olympiad in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Do you see a connection between chess and International Affairs?
There is definitely a strong parallel between the two. One of the things I like the most about studying International Affairs is that analyzing a political situation is quite similar to analyzing a chess position. In both there are so many factors to keep track of, and countless moves that one can make, each with its pros, cons, and results.

Another way in which the game of chess has “pushed” me to International Affairs is that it gave me the chance to travel quite extensively.  Since I was 12 I have played in international chess tournaments abroad, which allowed me to meet people from all over the world. Cultural diversity fascinated me so much that I wanted to know more about the world and the human condition, which is what International Affairs allows me to do.

How did you decide to apply to JCU?
I knew JCU thanks to my high school (Liceo Classico Kant, in Rome), which was involved in the Italy Reads and Italy Writes contests. I visited the university at the closing ceremony of Italy Reads 2014, when my class was awarded the first prize, and I really liked the location. I was looking for an international university, in my opinion the best place to study International Affairs. Moreover, at JCU I could study Philosophy as a minor, which is not possible in an Italian university, and even start a chess club!

What are your career plans?
While I was in high school I participated in the Model United Nations, which gave me insight on how UN-affiliated agencies work. Since then, my dream has been to work at the UN and make my small contribution to the world. I am not yet sure which specific agency I’d like to work for, perhaps something that allows me to work on the field with refugees. Thus, after JCU I am planning to pursue a master’s degree in International Relations that will prepare me for work at the UN.

Tell us about the JCU Chess Club.
The Chess Club meets every Monday from 3 to 5 PM in the clubs room, Tiber Campus. We’ve just started our Facebook page and our website, where we will upload news and events. We’re planning to launch an online problem-solving contest and organize online tournaments, so that everybody can play comfortably at home. Also, we are trying to arrange a live tournament at the end of the semester and plan seminars for next semester. Come check out Chess Club!

Do you have any advice for a new student starting out at JCU?
If you’re not familiar with the American system, feel free to ask other students about it – we’re all glad to help at JCU. Also, try to get involved in clubs because it’s a good way to familiarize yourself with the university.