In the kitchen of three young Dutch grandmasters

| 0 | Chess Event Coverage
Yesterday night, after the second round of the Essent Tournament, the grandmasters Erwin l'Ami and Jan Smeets were having dinner in the canteen of the tournament hall, and I asked them if I could have an interview with them sometime during the tournament. ?¢‚Ǩ?ìNow seems a perfect moment,?جø¬?? Erwin said. Jan agreed. Later GM Jan Werle joined us.

From left to right: Erwin l'Ami, Jan Smeets and Jan Werle

How did you start the tournament? l'Ami: ?¢‚Ǩ?ìYesterday I played the youngest of the Mamedyarova sisters. We had an equal ending but that didn't matter because there was enough to play for. I managed to outplay her. Today I drew, against a 66 year old Russian guy, Donchenko. I had an advantage after the opening; I'm not sure what went wrong. Maybe axb wasn't the strongest, perhaps I should have played Rac1 and then play in the centre. This happens one in a while, it just wasn't my day." Smeets: ?¢‚Ǩ?ìYesterday I won a Ruy Lopez against Weeks from Australia. A good game. Today, against Van de Oudeweetering, I won because his flag fell. After the opening [a c3 Sicilian ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú PD] I was in trouble. Perhaps the idea with e6 and Dc8 was wrong. At a certain moment he had an hour extra on the clock and he could have finished me for example with Bg5 instead of Nbd6+." Werle: ?¢‚Ǩ?ìI won both games, yesterday against De Jong and today against Bednar. They were good games, I was never in danger."

How did it go in former Hoogeveen tournaments? Smeets: ?¢‚Ǩ?ìI played here three or four times and reached six points. Especially the last tournaments this meant I scored badly. I hope it's a coincidence." l'Ami: ?¢‚Ǩ?ìI too don't play well here." Smeets: ?¢‚Ǩ?ìBut last year you were shared second!" l'Ami: ?¢‚Ǩ?ìYes, okay, but elo-technically speaking the score wasn't great. I do score six points here but always after a bad start. Don't know why, I just never peaked here."

Are you professional chess players? Smeets: ?¢‚Ǩ?ìOnly Erwin is pro. I study Economics in Rotterdam. Werle: ?¢‚Ǩ?ìI'm studying Law in Groningen."

Don't you want to be professionals? Smeets: ?¢‚Ǩ?ìI was a pro for a year but I just didn't like it. Not sure why?¢‚Ǩ¬¶ I think it was the periods between tournaments. Then you need to fill up one and a half month of free time, I just didn't like it. It was difficult. Now I train in between things and that's nice."

Werle: ?¢‚Ǩ?ìI also tried it and was pro for a year. But it's just no fun, too dull. Nu I study chess as a hobby and that's okay!?جø¬?? l'Ami: ?¢‚Ǩ?ìIncredible. I certainly like it. I'm not bothered by all these things."

How do you fill up all this time? l'Ami: ?¢‚Ǩ?ìI train with GM Chuchelov, for example. He lives in Eupen, Belgium."

And what do you do? l'Ami: ?¢‚Ǩ?ìWe plug like madmen. Openings Or we look at games I played. With the two of us, a laptop and a chess set.?جø¬??

Chuchelov is also Van Wely's second, and you play a few openings Loek does too. Are there situations when Chuchelov can't tell you everything? l'Ami: ?¢‚Ǩ?ìOh now, everything is very open. Usually afterwards Loek looks at things we did. And sometimes a comments on it.?جø¬??

And besides?All this free time between tournaments, that's no problem? l'Ami: ?¢‚Ǩ?ìNo, it's a good life. The one day you're a bit stuck but then the other day you manage to do a lot of work. And when I train with Chuchelov it's usually for a week and we have long days. More than a fourty hour working week!"

Jan and Jan, how do you improve your chess at the moment? Werle: ?¢‚Ǩ?ìI train a lot more than when I was a professional. I like to work alone and now I'm looking at games of Petrosian, Smyslov, Karpov and Botvinnik.

From the Kasparov books? Werle: ?¢‚Ǩ?ìYes, they are great. Sergei Tiviakov is my coach by the way. Normally after a tournament we get together and we look at my games. He guides my study plan and tells me which world champions to study."

And you, Jan? Do you have a coach? Smeets: ?¢‚Ǩ?ìNo. Sometimes I get a book and a chess set and I replay games. That's quite fun. I never did this. Until I was sixteen I never looked at openings at all." So how did you manage to become a GM? Smeets: ?¢‚Ǩ?ìEspecially the trainings by Cor van Wijgerden were very good. We used to have a sponsor, Lost Boys, and we had a lot of trainings. Yes, those rook endings, we surely know a great deal of them now. Also the brothers Erwich joined us then [Frank doesn't play much anymore; Marc will become an IM if he wins his Bundesliga game today! ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú PD] and Daan Jongsma, later on Dani?ɬ´l Stellwagen."

What is your goal for this tournament? Werle: "I don't really set a goal." Smeets: "I finally want to finish at (at least) six points." Erwin: "Win the tournament"
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