Euwe Tournament takes off with 3 draws and a plane not taking off

| 0 | Chess Event Coverage

The first round of the Euwe Tournament saw three draws today in the games Fridrik Olafsson - Paul van der Sterren, Peng Zhaoqin - Pia Cramling and Monika Socko - Robin van Kampen. The game between Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant and Stuart Conquest had to be postponed as Conquest's airplane didn't take off from London City Airport due to fog.

EventEuwe Tournament
DatesNovember 13th-20th, 2011
LocationAmsterdam, The Netherlands
SystemTwo separate groups of 4 players who play a double round robin, so 6 rounds
PlayersGroup 1: Paul van Der Sterren, Pia Cramling, Fridrik Olafsson and Peng Zhaoqin Group 2: Robin van Kampen, Monika Socko, Stuart Conquest and Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant
Rate of play90 minutes for the first 40 moves followed by 30 minutes for the rest of the game with an increment of 30 seconds per move starting from move one

On 26 November it will be thirty years, since former Dutch Chess World Champion Dr. Max Euwe passed away. To honour his memory two groups of four are playing a double round robin tournament from 14 to 20 November in the “Openbare Bibliotheek” (public library) in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. In a first press release, the organizers wrote:

The Max Euwe Chess Tournament looks back on a wealth of chess history but keeps a firm view towards the future too, as is reflected in the participants. The round robins and side events will connect us with important men and women from the chess world and with these great talents we shall celebrate the life of chess promoter Euwe.

The organisation has brought together an international field of male and female players both young and old: Fridrik Olafsson (Iceland), Paul van der Sterren (NL), Zhaoqin Peng (NL), Pia Cramling (Sweden), Stuart Conquest (England), Monica Socko (Poland), Keti Arakhamia (Scotland) and Robin van Kampen (NL).


Grandmaster Jan Timman opened the event on Sunday afternoon, 13 November with a simul. This was in fact quite a busy day in Amsterdam. The arrival of Sinterklaas, an elderly, stately and serious man with white hair and a long, full beard caused some massive traffic problems in the city. Sinterklaas traditionally arrives in the Netherlands each year in mid-November by steamboat from Spain. That’s a crazy story? Nah, not when you’re Dutch!

Anyway, the participants of the simultaneous exhibition of Jan Timman arrived on time in the public library in Amsterdam and the Dutch grandmaster started his games against 24 opponents to open the Euwe tournament.

He had quite a tough time: he won 19 games, made one draw but lost four games. Timman was not really pleased with his 81,2%  average and grumbled about having made some terrible blunders. His opponents Angelo Spiler, Niels van Dam, Martijn van der Eijk and Fred van Gunst did not care and were very happy with the result.

Hers is a pretty finish in the game Jan Timman-Fred van Gunst

[FEN "4r1rk/3b1p1p/p1np3p/1p6/4BP1q/7P/PP1QN1P1/3RR2K w - - 0 0"]

Timman played 24.Bxc6 and Black answered with the nice move 24…Qxh3+. “I was happy with the draw after 25. gxh3 Bxc6”, van Gunst smiled after the game. But Timman wanted to win and played 25. Kg1. After 25…Bxc6 Timman obviously thought that his next move would win the game: 26. Qd4+ because after 26…Rg7 27. Qxg7! black can resign. However, after the pretty blow 26…Re5! it was Timman who had to resign.

The oldest player in the simul, 88 (!) year old Rien Quakkelaar said after the game that he played in a simul against Euwe back in 1946. He won! He also played another world champion, Botwinnik, in a simul but he lost that one.

The Timman simul was a nice kick-off of the events coming up this week in Amsterdam and there were a lot of non-chess playing spectators who were fascinated by the event. A good promotion of the game!

After the ceremony, New in Chess publisher Allard Hoogland handed over the first copy the his book Zwart op Wit (recently reviewed by us) to author GM Paul van der Sterren

Round 1

In the first round of the Euwe Tournament only three games were played instead of the planned four games. Stuart Conquest was supposed to fly in from London early on Monday morning, but due to dense fog on London City Airport his flight had to be cancelled.

A photo by Stuart Conquest put on Facebook on Monday morning with the text: 'Empty runway at London City Airport this morning. Not good.'

Later in the day Conquest could fly to Amsterdam without problems and on Monday evening he was already to be found in his favourite Amsterdam cafe. The game that he was supposed to play on Monday against Keti Arakhamia will be played on the rest day on Thursday.

Arakhamia-Grant having an unexpected rest day, here with journalist GM Ian Rogers...

...looking at the players and games in the playing hall

Paul van der Sterren escaped in his first tournament game since 10 (!) years. The semi-retired Dutchman played his last tournament game in the Dutch Championship back in 2001. In the game against 76-year old Fridrik Olafsson from Iceland he had some problems to solve on the black side of a Nimzo-Indian.

[FEN "2rqr1k1/pn2bppp/1p2pn2/6B1/3P3P/P1NQ1N2/1P3PP1/3RR1K1 w - - 0 19"]

Instead of trying 19.Qa6 Nd6 20.d5! exd5 21.Pxd5 Pxd5 22.Txd5 Lxg5 23. Txe8+ Dxe8 24.hxg5 De7 25.Dd3 with a good position for white, Olafsson played 19.Ne5 and after 19…Nd5 20.Bxe7 he offered an early draw. Van der Sterren was happy with the result: “playing a draw is a perfect way to enjoy a chess game”. If my opponent and I play a nice game and a draw is within reach, why should I not offer or accept a draw?”

Fridrik Olafsson

Paul van der Sterren

The game between Zhaoqin Peng and Pia Cramling was balanced and the logical result was a draw.

[FEN "8/5kp1/ppnqp2p/2p2p2/P1P2P2/1PQ1PN1P/4K1P1/8 w - - 0 32"]

Peng was unhappy with 32. Qd3 because after the exchange of queens she missed the strong move 33…e5! but she could keep the balance.

Zhaoqin Peng

Pia Cramling

Robin van Kampen celebrated his 17th birthday today and seemed to have very good position against Monika Socko, but he could not find a way to win. “Well, I never play very well on my birthday”, the youngest Dutch grandmaster smiled. Tournament director Monique van de Griendt had a small present for Van Kampen: am Amsterdam travel guide. Robin was happy with the gift: “This is great, I always get lost in Amsterdam”.

Monica Socko

Robin van Kampen

Games round 1

PGN file

As mentioned before, the tournament takes place in the Openbare Bibliotheek Amsterdam (Public Library Amsterdam) which is collective name for all public libraries in Amsterdam. The largest of these libraries, the Centrale Bibliotheek, moved to the Prinsengracht in 1977.

30 years later, on 7 July 2007 (070707), to the Oosterdokseiland just east of Amsterdam Centraal station.

The building was designed by Jo Coenen, the former state architect.

It is the largest public library in Europe. The complex has a floor surface of 28,500 m2, spread out over 10 floors, 1200 seats, of which 600 with Internet-connected computers.

The playing hall is in the Simon Vestdijk room

Those empty letters in glass are a joy for photographers

The tournament, which is more like a festival, will run until Sunday. There will also be lectures in the evening throughout the week about Max Euwe, computer chess and artificial intelligence, which will be held by renowned experts GM Hans Ree and Dr. Jos Uiterwijk. On Wednesday afternoon, there will be a fun children’s chess session with two-time American women’s chess champion Jennifer Shahade and a viewing of “Long Live the Queen”, a chess film directed by Euwe’s granddaughter Esmé Lammers.

Thanks to Eric van Reem who wrote most of this report

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