Giri, Van Wely Neck And Neck At 'Cultural' Dutch Championship

Giri, Van Wely Neck And Neck At 'Cultural' Dutch Championship

| 8 | Chess Event Coverage

The Dutch Championship has become a neck-and-neck race between GMs Anish Giri and Loek van Wely. With three rounds to go, the two grandmasters are on 3.0/4, a point ahead of the pack.

For the second year in a row the Dutch Championship is held in the Manor Hotel (photo) in Amsterdam, a former hospital originally opened in 1891.

Both the open and the women championships are groups of eight players who play seven rounds. In the main championship, GMs Anish Giri (2791), Loek van Wely (2647), Sergei Tiviakov (2639), Erwin L'Ami (2628), Robin van Kampen (2609), Benjamin Bok (2562), Sipke Ernst (2545) and Roeland Pruijssers (2507) are playing.

The playing hall on the first floor of the Manor Hotel.

Now the world's number six, Giri was expected to run away with this tournament like he did last time he played. In 2012 he won very convincingly, with 6.0/7.

However, it's far from clear whether the Russian-born Dutch GM will clinch his fourth title on Sunday. With three rounds to go he shares first place with Van Wely, who is going for his eighth title.

Like Max Euwe, the fifth chess world champion, Van Wely won six consecutive titles but both KingLoek and Giri will have a hard time beating Euwe's record of 12 national titles.

In the women's section that record has been broken already: GM Zhaoqin Peng is going for her 14th title this year. The last time she won has been a while: 2011.

13-time Dutch Champion Zhaoqin Peng.

Giri picked lot number one at Saturday's opening ceremony — hosted by Dehlia Timman, yep, the daughter of Jan! — and so the favorite got to start with two white games. 

Lot number one for top seed Anish Giri.

With some effort he scored 1.5 points: Tiviakov was too solid in a French, and against Pruijssers the game was decided in the late middlegame.

It must be noted that the game deviated on move 18 from an old Euwe (!) game. Not only Giri himself (at the recent Norway Chess tournament in Stavanger), but more Dutch players seem to be inspired by the legendary grand maître of Dutch chess.



That was a tough blow for Pruijssers, who had spolied a winning
position against Van Kampen in the first round.

In the second round it was Van Kampen himself who gave away a full point against Van Wely. That was a nasty trick by KingLoek, who jokingly called it “a smooth victory” afterward:


Van Wely: “A smooth victory.”

With three rounds to go, the championship race seems to be going between Giri and Van Wely. In round four, the latter won against Pruijssers (indeed a smooth game this time!). Giri won as well, but again he had to work much harder.

That was his own fault: like against Pruijssers, the top seed kept playing fast in his opponent's time trouble and therefore he missed a quicker win earlier. However, the way Giri converted the point from the position after move 40 (“90-10 it will be a draw!” said Van Kampen around that time) was impressive.


In the end, the more than 200 points Elo difference started to tell.

Thursday is a rest day. The women's championship will see an exciting second part as well. Three former winners are tied for first place: Peng, Haast and Lanchava.

Like last year, there are lots of side events, so many that the organizer rightly decided to call it a cultural festival. It's highly recommended to drop by. Some examples:

  • poets performing during the opening ceremony and games commentary
  • a short film about Paul van der Sterren
  • theater: Dostoyevsky's Notes from Underground
  • theater: Stefan Zweig's Die Schachnovelle
  • photography, art and a pop quiz
  • several amateur chess tournaments

And like last year, the playing hall itself is part of the “cultural” aspect of this event. Four pieces of art are placed alongside the tables and chairs, two by Ivon Drumman and two by Frans Fritschy. 

Chess art by Ivon Drumman
One of the two pieces of art by Frans Fritschy
Chess players by Frans Fritschy — for more info on the artist see this article.

Van Kampen watching the commentary by GM Wouter Spoelman and IM Robert Ris.

A cultural intermezzo: poetry by Thomas Möhlmann

Or some blitz outside on the terras with former Dutch champion, GM Hans Ree, standing by.

GM Genna Sosonko, another former champ, gave an introduction to a
theater play based on Dostoyevsky's
Notes from Underground


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