Jorden van Foreest is a name we’re going to be hearing a lot about in the years to come! In 2016 he became Dutch Champion at the age of 17 and also crossed 2600 on the rating list. Chess has been in his family for six generations and he’s lived up to that legacy. Dorsa Derakhshani tracked him down in Sitges, Spain during the Sunway Chess Festival for an in-depth interview.
At the Sunway Chess Festival in Sitges the hotel and playing venue is right in front of the sea - it's simply breathtaking! Jorden van Foreest also enjoyed it very much and had a decent tournament, after which I was able to talk to him, as well as get his annotations of one of his best games from the event.
Playing venue with a view
Dorsa Derakhshani: You crossed 2600 recently. Does it feel any different? How did you work to cross that milestone?
Jorden van Foreest: It doesn’t really feel different! My rating has been improving since last year and I think it was a continuation of that, but 2600 is not something special to me. When I reach 2700 I’ll be somewhat satisfied. 2600 is something like in between levels. How did I work? Well, I’ve just trained and played lots of tournaments. I think it’s very important that I played lots of strong tournaments against lots of strong opponents.
How does the Dutch Federation support you?
I don’t think they have much money for chess so usually I do most things alone. Of course we have Anish Giri, as you know, and he actually gets something, but the rest of us - not really. Recently, besides the Dutch Chess Federation and money for general sports, the government decided to spend more on youth talent in chess. So we got some money from them to train six weeks per year to study with a strong player, but there’s not much support directly from the chess federation.
So they do care but they don’t have enough money?
Yes, you can say that.
What about teammates? Do you guys train together?
I know the Dutch team members, of course, and talk to them regularly, but I don't specifically train with them. I’ve only trained with Loek (van Wely) once for a few days, and he was my coach at the World Junior last year. And with Benjamin (Bok) we sometimes discuss some openings and some games, but training - not really, as of yet.
Does Anish help you guys out?
I know Erwin is a second of Anish, so they're helping each other. For the rest, I only know that Anish is quite good friends with Benjamin and Robin (van Kampen) so they might be helping each other out. I'm not too sure about others. When I was training with Loek he showed me his games which he’d analysed very well, and he gave me exercises about them.
Do you happen to have your own sponsor?
I did! Two sponsors, actually - Adviesbureau Schrijvers and Hotels.nl. The first one I knew personally, he had a company and he decided to sponsor me. The other one decided to sponsor me for three years or until I had enough strength to cover my own expenses, and recently when I became Dutch Champion they stopped sponsoring me, but they did help me a lot!
You became Dutch Champion right before the Olympiad but you didn’t play in the Olympiad. Why?
Well, I wasn’t invited! When the invitations were sent out my Elo wasn’t high enough, so I hope to play the next one.
Lots of teams decide to give boards to some of their young talents, so it was strange you weren’t in the team.
We had Benjamin Bok. He was a little stronger than me at that point and when our coach decided the players for this year he chose Benjamin Bok, and the rest of team was also quite good.
It goes without saying that this game is Jorden's greatest achievement to date!
Is there some chess school in the Netherlands, or do you just go to regular school and take time off to play tournaments?
I was homeschooled, which is generally not possible in the Netherlands, but somehow my parents figured out a way to do it, so that was really good! But around two years ago I decided that I had to take my exams and so I went to a school with lots of other sportsmen so I could take time off for tournaments easily and I only have to make it for my tests.
There’s no chess scholarship for universities?
Not that I know of. Actually, today I read in a newspaper about Tiviakov wanting this to happen and for chess to enter schools, but nothing clear so far.
Probably for the next generation!
Haha, yes. It wasn’t so easy for me because my grades weren’t so good – unlike my chess I don’t have/put enough time into them, so no wonder why. I try to focus mainly on chess, but my grades have become better recently, so I’m allowed to go to tournaments!
Will you go to university next year or you will take some time off?
I’m still considering it!
You’re the oldest of the Van Foreest children and have five siblings, if I’m right. Do they also like playing chess?
Correct! My younger brother Lucas plays and also my sister, Machtled, is around 1900 at the age of nine, so probably she’ll be the best of us! When I was nine I was just starting. The rest of my siblings don’t really play chess.
How did you start playing chess? I remember I read about your grandpa somewhere.
Our family has been involved with chess since the grandpa of my grandpa. He and his brother were both three times Dutch Champions from 1885 onwards, so that was already some chess!
The van Foreest family won the Dutch Championship 6 times in 17 years! (source: Wikipedia)
But neither my dad nor his dad plays chess. My dad just taught me the rules, showed me some books when I was about six, and I liked it. So I played some tournaments, but I didn’t like it. So I didn’t play for three years and one day, when I was nine, I was invited to be a bench player for our school chess team and someone got sick and somehow my team and I reached higher than expected in the competition, so I liked it and started to play more!
Did you have a moment when it hit you and you wanted to be a really good chess player?
I didn’t really have such a moment. I just played as much as I could and enjoyed it! Maybe when I became Under 10 Dutch Champion – it was quite an achievement for me.
What other results do you consider achievements?
Besides U10 Dutch Champion I was U14 European Champion and I won a tournament in France this year – Vaujany. I haven’t won many opens so far, although I did win in my hometown of Groningen last year.
Replay all the games from the Sunway Chess Festival in Sitges: