First round Dutch team ch

PeterDoggers
PeterDoggers
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A few of my readers from abroad asked me to write something about the Dutch League (team ch). And they are right when they say that usually there's not much written about our team championship (besides articles in all kinds of media, but always in the Dutch language). There's actually quite some interesting stuff to tell. What about guys like Ivanchuk and Kramnik making their debut in Holland, this season?

The Dutch team ch consists of nine rounds, played monthly on a Saturday, with ten players in each team. In recent years, after these preliminaries, play-offs were played with the four highest ranked teams but the federation decided to drop these play-offs as from this season.

For ages, the national team championship was won by U-Boat (Breda). May people say this is simply because they always had the biggest wallet to fly in foreign Grandmasters during the play-offs weekend. Before the start of this season, team captain Henk Verstappen surprised the Dutch chess scene by withdrawing his team, because the absence of the play-offs would make the league 'not interesting anymore'.

The first round of the Dutch team ch was played on Saturday, September 23rd.

Share Dimension Groningen - Utrecht 5,5-4,5

In August the team Share Dimension Groningen (the town that's known for their December tournaments but the PCA tournament of 1993 and the the FIDE knockout tournament that was won by Anand in 1997 were held in Groningen too) announced that they contracted a world champion: they managed to add Classical World Champion Vladimir Kramnik to their list of players. Not long after that they came with two more impressive names: Vassily Ivanchuk and Sergei Rublevsky. Together with for example Sergei Tiviakov, Ivan Sokolov, Arkadij Naiditsch, Alexander Motylev and Igor Khenkin, Groningen is stronger that ever this year. Actually they would be the strongest team of the whole league, but it's important to realize that not more that two players from outside the European Union can play each round. Journalist Johan Hut explains Groningen's strategy: "Share Dimension want to win the European Cup this year, where this restriction doesn't exist." And ironically, Groningen's first win was brought by the local GM's Tiviakov, Werle and Visser. They beat Berkvens, Bitalzadeh and Jens respectively.

Board one of the Groningen-Utrecht saw the battle between Vassily Ivanchuk and David Smerdon, that ended in a draw. The game (with analysis by Ivanchuk!) can be seen here. About David we've written before on this website; the IM from Down Under is studying in Amsterdam for half a year and was hijacked by Utrecht! Utrecht is a team full of strong chess players who are almost exclusively students - Smerdon must feel at home!

HMC Calder - Zukertort Amstelveen 6,5-3,5

HMC Calder is also one of the stronger teams, with Rustam Kasimdzhanov, Leonid Kritz, Daniel Fridman, Jon Speelman, Mikhail Saltaev and Janis Klovans joining their ranks. In the first round Kritz, Fridman and Speelman were the top boards that Zukertort Amstelveen (with no foreign or Dutch GM's; they advanced last season) had to fight. That was too much to ask. A classical attack on the king was seen on board two.

Fridman-Tan Dutch team ch (01) 2006

14.e5! Nd5 15.Bg5! Bxg5 16.Bxh7+! Kxh7 17.Nxg5 Kg8 (17...Kg6 18.Qd3+ of even better 18.Ra3!) 18.Qh5 and White finished the game like a GM should.

HSG-Homburg Apeldoorn 7-3

After seeing U-Boat leaving the league, 'always-second' HSG is the logical new champion. Besides Van Wely, Seirawan and Nijboer this team has has the three young Grandmasters L'Ami, Stellwagen and Smeets and also the solid IM's Delemarre and Janssen. So HSG will be Groningen's biggest rival and in their first round they made no mistake by beating Apeldoorn. In this team a lot of friends join, like IM (Sipke) Ernst, IM Van Delft, IM Siebrecht and one of the authors of this site, Arne Moll. They have some more IM's and will therefore probably end somewhere in the middle of the league.

On board one, IM (but almost-GM) Sipke Ernst played a fine game against super-GM Loek van Wely.

Ernst-Van Wely Dutch team ch (01) 2006

In this position White even could have won, if only he had found the brilliant move 40.Bg6!!. Instead 40.Qh8+ led to a draw. Here you can replay this game with analysis by Ernst!

ESGOO-LSG 7-3

ESGOO, the team of Enschede (the Eastern part of The Netherlands, close to the German border), will again be rock-solid this year. Because of their geographical location, they always have a few German title holders in their team and this season is no exception: Feygin, Kalka, Richter, Buenermann... Berelovich leads the team that also holds Dutch talent Vincent Rothuis. LSG (from Leiden, close to The Hague), like Utrecht, has quite some players that are studying or started a professional carreer not long ago. Quite some IM's and if we add local hero GM Van der Wiel to this we might assume LSG will stay in this top league as well altough they started with two losses (see below).

There was a nice finish in the following game.

Van Blitterswijk-Richter Dutch team ch (01) 2006

31...Nxh3! 32.Nxc6 Rd2! and Black won.

SO Rotterdam - SMB 5-5

Rotterdam lost one player but got two. Zhaoqin Peng, for years and years our national women's champion, started working under professional sponsorhip and now plays for a club in the second league. Two IM's Cuijpers and Kuijff freed themselves from the sunken U-Boat. Rotterdam's top boards see GM's Winants, Van der Weide and Reinderman and a few IM's. Advanced from the second league, SMB (Nijmegen) will, like Amstelveen, have a hard time this year with all Dutch players (no GM's), rated between 2417 and 2159.

From this match a rook ending. Because there's more in chess than attacks!

Carlier-Retera Dutch team ch (01) 2006

Black lost after 36...Rxg3?. According to Fred van der Vliet in Schaaknieuws, 36...Re3 draws: 37. Rxf7+ Kg8 38.Rg7+ Kf8 39.Rxg6 Rxe5.




One match of the second round (scheduled October 14th) has already been played (LSG - HMC Calder 4-6) because both LSG and HMC Calder will play in the already mentioned European Club Cup, starting this weekend in Tirol. LSG-HMC Calder started kind of bizar. The two strong GM's Fridman and Kasimdzhanov were supposed to play for HMC but they arrived... just two minutes late because of a traffic jam! Despite a score of 3,5-1,5 to LSG already after one hour, HMC Calder managed to turn the events miraculously. Photos over here.

Current standings in the Meesterklasse:

                      MP      BP    Gesp.
1. HMC Calder          4      12,5    2
2. ESGOO               2       7      1
3. HSG                 2       7      1
4. Share Dimension Gr. 2       5,5    1
5. SMB                 1       5      1
6. Rotterdam           1       5      1
7. LSG Leiden          0       7      2
8. Utrecht             0       4,5    1
9. Zukertort A'veen    0       3,5    1
10.Homburg Apeldoorn   0       3      1


The official site of the Dutch team ch (called 'Meesterklasse') can be found over here.

The games of the first round can be download as PGN here (thanks to Schakers.info).

Thanks also to the Dutch magazine Schaaknieuws, which I used for this article.[/lang_nl]
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