Merijn van Delft wins Weihnachts Open

CM ArnieChipmunk
0 | Chess Event Coverage
ChessVibes-editor IM Merijn van Delft has won first prize in the Weihnachts Open tournament that was held 27-30 December in Hamburg. (Yes, there are still tournaments without world class players!) After a convincing first half, a couple of draws in the later rounds sufficed for the first place. IM Michael Kopylov came second, while outsider Christian Michna surprisingly finished third. Yours truly couldn't make any difference to all this, and had to settle for a grey place in the outback of the tournament.

Every chess player, even the greatest among us, must know the feeling: after a short search in a deserted suburb, you enter an artificially lighted playing hall where you don't know anybody. The chairs remind you of your school days, the plastic boards are the same as in your first junior tournaments, the white tables look like the tables in your old college class room. The bar smells like white loafs with salami and cheese.

The people in the playing area are all men: you recognize them immediately, even though you don't know their actual names. In a corner, some loud kids are playing blitz: you're immediately transported back to your first little chess tournament. Chess players are the same everywhere: whether you're in the Marshall Chess Club, or in the Chigorin Club in St. Petersburg, the Wethouder Verheijsporthal in Amsterdam or the Hamburger Jugendbildungsst?ɬ§tte.

As I enter the playing hall, I find myself wondering what I'm doing here. Oh yes, that was it: to play chess. After all, playing chess is fun.

But of course, playing chess is only really fun when things are working: if you can produce some fire on the board, if you can compete with the best, if you can play beautiful moves. The sharp reader has understood already that this wasn't the case for yours truly. Fortunately, the joy of playing was very much there at the top boards, for example with the enterprising playing Doctor Hauke Reddmann, alias The Redman, the strong Hamburg junior talents Aljoscha Feuerstack and Jonathan Carlstedt and a couple of dangerous outsiders from Brasil and Denmark.

Nevertheless, the tournament was less strongly occupied than expected, since some high-rated Armenians had withdrawn at the last moment. WGM Marta Michna, too, was just there as a spectactor, present only to encourage her little daughter and her husband.

In the end, Van Delft turned out to have calculated his chances most efficiently. First seeded Kopylov was trailing behind after a painful defeat against Michna, but produced some rather effective damage control in the last two rounds. Micha only lost in the first round. His 5,5 out of 6 in the next rounds were sufficient for a splendid third place.

Here's the key game Feuerstack-Van Delft from the fifth round - the position before 15...Bxh2+! should easily make it into the excercise-books.

vandelft Merijn van Delft

kopylov Michael Kopylov

michna Christian Michna

reddmann Dr. Hauke Reddmann
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