Experimental draw at Dutch Championship

| 0 | Chess Event Coverage
Dutch Ch 2010During his game against FM Benjamin Bok at the Dutch Championship in Eindhoven, GM Loek van Wely today was involved in an experiment to measure his stress levels. And indeed, in a game that saw a repetition of the position between moves 14 and 37, clear signs of arousel on the side of Van Wely were measured, but for an unexpected reason...

The Dutch Championship takes place June 11-20 in Eindhoven, The Netherlands. The rate of play is 40 moves in 90 minutes followed by 30 minutes to end the game, with 30 seconds increment from move 1. Venue is the High Tech Campus Eindhoven, a technology center at the site of the former 'NatLab', the Philips Physics Laboratory. For more details see our first report.

An experimental draw

"Wouldn't it be nice to show the spectators how stressful a chess game is for the players?" This was the question the Dutch Chess Federation asked themselves when they realized that this year's Dutch Championship was held in the midst of 90 top-notch technological companies that are based at the High Tech Campus in Eindhoven.

It was Bert-Jan Woertman, Communications Manager of the Campus and host of this year Dutch Championship, who realized that there was an opportunity to create a synergy between the championship and the collective technological knowledge in Eindhoven. He made sure that the tournament got in touch with Holst Centre, an independent open-innovation R&D partnership between IMEC (Flanders, Belgium) and TNO (The Netherlands).

A technology that was developed for medical applications today was applied for the evaluation of a mental game of chess. Loek van Wely, always ready for a stunt, volunteered and so before the fourth round sensors were attached to his body which were to provide an indication of his stress levels.
Dutch Ch 2010

Van Wely wore a chest strap that measured his heart rhythm (ECG, electrocardiogram) and respiratory

Specifically, Van Wely wore a chest strap that measured his heart rhythm (ECG, electrocardiogram) and respiratory. Around his wrist, the grandmaster wore a sensor measuring skin resistance. The outcome would be the "arousal" level of the player, and this would be connected to the amount of stress the player would feel during the game. The results were quite unexpected.

Dutch Ch 2010

Around his wrist, the grandmaster wore a sensor measuring skin resistance

At move 14 already, FM Bok started repeating the moves Be2-d3-e2, and GM Van Wely had nothing better than to go Qg6-h5-g6. This went on until move 37 (!) when finally Bok claimed a draw based on threefold (or rather thirteenfold) repetition. After the game he said: "I knew I could continue with h2-h4, but I didn't remember the position very well, so I went for a draw." Bok explained that he offered the draw twice, but Van Wely didn't accept.

Asked why, the six times Dutch Champion said: "I didn't want the draw, and I didn't want to give the impression that I was happy with a draw. I wasn't. Whatever opening you play these days, these youngsters always know the theory. Why didn't he play something sharp, like against Smeets? Then he dropped a piece. I got very angry when I realized he was going for a draw right from the start. I mean, the organizers give him a wildcard, but then instead of getting some experience here, this idiot just goes for a draw."

So much for the experiment, you might think. But the results of the test did show something interesting. Van Wely clearly wasn't exaggerating when he said he was angry during the game. According to Holst Centre the diagram with the test results showed a clear sign of arousel at the point when Bok first repeated moves.

The game

Game viewer by ChessTempo


Peter Doggers

Peter Doggers joined a chess club a month before turning 15 and still plays for it. He used to be an active tournament player and holds two IM norms.

Peter has a Master of Arts degree in Dutch Language & Literature. He briefly worked at New in Chess, then as a Dutch teacher and then in a project for improving safety and security in Amsterdam schools.

Between 2007 and 2013 Peter was running ChessVibes, a major source for chess news and videos acquired by in October 2013.

As our Director News & Events, Peter writes many of our news reports. In the summer of 2022, The Guardian’s Leonard Barden described him as “widely regarded as the world’s best chess journalist.”

In October, Peter's first book The Chess Revolution will be published!

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