Jan Werle wins European Union Championship

| 0 | Chess Event Coverage
As a last minute entry to the European Union Championships, 24-year-old Dutch law student Jan Werle scored the best result in his career by far. "I went as a coach for my girlfriend but they convinced me that I should play." Final report, including a video interview with the winner.

The European Union Championships (9-18 September in the World Museum in Liverpool) was a 10-round Swiss with many big guns such as Adams, Short, Bacrot and Vachier-Lagrave, but Jan Werle finished clear first ahead of Adams, Laznicka and Short, earning ?Ǭ£6,000 (almost 7,000 Euros a bit over 7,500 Euros).

A fantastic success for the Dutch student from Friesland (a province in the northern part of The Netherlands), who's been living and studying in Groningen for a few years now. This year he's playing quite a lot of tournaments; before Liverpool he played in the Staunton Memorial and the Inventi Tournament and he'll also be part of the Dutch Olympiad team in Dresden.

Until now, besides 2nd and 3rd places at the European Championship under 16 and 18, Werle had scored one major prize: his shared first at the 2006 Essent Open in Hoogeveen, The Netherlands - the big open tournament that's always organized in October, at the same time of the famous 4-player round-robin played with glass pieces.

During that tournament I interviewed Werle together with Jan Smeets and Erwin L'Ami, and Jan told me that he's not a professional player: "I 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!"

Still, Werle's clear first at the EU Ch shouldn't come as a surprise, if you take into account his attitude to the game. He decided to take seven years for his studies instead of the normal four, to be able to spend a lot of time on chess. When he's not playing tournaments, he spends about two hours a day on the game and he this means serious work. "No ICC!" he says in the video interview, created by John Saunders and Manuel Weeks:


Besides well-known Dutch trainers Herman Grooten and Cor van Wijgerden, Werle has worked with Sergey Tiviakov and currently he's "proud to be able to say that Ivan Sokolov is my coach", as he writes on his personal website.

During the first half of the EU Championships, Werle was able to perform a so-called "Swiss Gambit" . In the second round he lost to the German FM Hannes Langrock (2398) and so he could avoid the strongest opponents. However, especially in a 10-round tournament you cannot do this for long and so among his opponents we also see e.g. Michael Adams and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave.

But it was his game against the young Czech GM Viktor Laznicka that did it. Where most of the top boards drew in the penultimate round (Adams and Short in an individual encounter), Werle scored a convincing victory with Black:

Laznicka-Werle: the tournament-deciding game

And so Werle was suddenly leading, half a point clear of Adams and a point of the rest of the field, going into the final round. As an exception, he went for a draw against Vachier-Lagrave and got it. To his delight, Adams had drawn his game even quicker (the famous move repetition in the Zaitsev Ruy Lopez) which meant a fantastic, clear victory with 8 points out of 10 games. Not bad for someone who was just planning to go to Liverpool as... his girlfriend's coach!

Werle with his 2275 rated Romanian girlfriend WM Iozefina Paulet, whom he met in May at the European Championships in Plovdiv, Bulgaria - who says chess and love don't go together?


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