Sipke Ernst Wins A Horse (Sort Of)

Sipke Ernst Wins A Horse (Sort Of)

| 6 | Chess Event Coverage

Dutch GM Sipke Ernst won the invitation group of the biannual Remco Heite Chess Tournament, also known as “the tournament with the horse.”

Ernst won a crucial (and crazy) game in the last round against GM Loek van Wely. The open tournament was won by GM Aleksandr Lenderman.

Photo © Lenus van der Broek

The Remco Heite Chess Tournament is not your regular tournament. For starters, it was named after a former mayor (of Weststellingwerf, the Netherlands) when he retired. Then, it is held not every year, but every two years. Last but not least, the first prize is... a horse!

File photo: a horse. 

Well, sort of. When GM Loek van Wely won the first edition in 2006, he became the proud owner of a Stellingwerf trotter. However, that was illegal! Well, sort of.

The General Inspection Service found out about it (giving away a horse is illegal in The Netherlands) and did not want to make an exception.

The organizers, though, wanted the winner to receive a horse no matter what. 

They came up with a nice solution: to the first prize a bonus was added exactly as high as the horse's market value, with the option of buying the horse.

This way, all official rules were obliged. KingLoek's horse got a new future on the land of his ex-wife's parents.

Ever since, the winner of the tournament (GM Bartlomiej Macieja in 2008, GM Luke McShane in 2010, GM Daniel Fridman in 2012) is given the choice what to do with the bonus.

The 2012 winner (Fridman) decided to offer the bonus cheque a care farm where the money will be spent the restoration of the horse track. 

“I hope to visit the farm with my family one day. It will be interesting for my daughter. Perhaps next year,” said Fridman.

Fridman with the owners of the farm. | Photo © Lenus van der Broek.

This year the tournament was held November 14-16 in Wolvega, the Netherlands. Besides the invitation group there was an open tournament, a school tournament and a simul by Remco Heite himself.

Both Fridman and Van Wely played the invitation group again, where they faced Gawain Jones of England and Dutch GMs Sipke Ernst, Dimitri Reinderman and Erwin l'Ami. 

It was possible to play five games in three days because the time control was 1 hour and 40 minutes for 35 moves followed by 10 minutes to finish the game, with 10 seconds increment from move 36.

Nice, old demonstration boards also used in Hoogeveen. | Photo © Lennart Ootes.

A limited amount of time mixed with an interesting group of grandmaster led to lots of spectacular games. For example the following from round one, which starts with an old line of the Two Knights and ends with White allowing a pretty mate:

Jones-l'Ami | Photo © Lennart Ootes

After the penultimate round a trio was leading with 2.5/4: Ernst, Fridman and Reinderman.

The latter two drew their game in the last round, and for a while it seemed likely that they would be sharing first place.

Maybe Ernst could join them, but his position was cramped. However, Van Wely played a few inaccurate moves and then lost track in time trouble.

The crucial (and crazy) game Van Wely-Ernst. | Photo © Lennart Ootes.

2014 Remco Heite Invitation | Final Standings

# Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 Pts SB
1 Ernst,S 2545 2780 phpfCo1l0.png ½ ½ ½ 1 1 3.5/5
2 Fridman,D 2639 2685 ½ phpfCo1l0.png 1 ½ ½ ½ 3.0/5 7.50
3 L'Ami,E 2618 2689 ½ 0 phpfCo1l0.png 1 ½ 1 3.0/5 6.25
4 Reinderman,D 2588 2625 ½ ½ 0 phpfCo1l0.png ½ 1 2.5/5
5 Van Wely,L 2663 2540 0 ½ ½ ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ 2.0/5
6 Jones,G 2661 2370 0 ½ 0 0 ½ phpfCo1l0.png 1.0/5


Sipke Ernst wins the 2014 edition. | Photo © Lenus van der Broek.

The open tournament was won by U.S. grandmaster Aleksandr Lenderman, who scored an undefeated 7.0/9 and finished ahead of GM Benjamin Bok and Ferenc Langheinrich.

Here's one of Lenderman's wins:

Aleksandr Lenderman wins the open. | Photo © Lenus van der Broek.

Peter Doggers

Peter Doggers joined a chess club a month before turning 15 and still plays for it. He used to be an active tournament player and holds two IM norms.

Peter has a Master of Arts degree in Dutch Language & Literature. He briefly worked at New in Chess, then as a Dutch teacher and then in a project for improving safety and security in Amsterdam schools.

Between 2007 and 2013 Peter was running ChessVibes, a major source for chess news and videos acquired by in October 2013.

As our Director News & Events, Peter writes many of our news reports. In the summer of 2022, The Guardian’s Leonard Barden described him as “widely regarded as the world’s best chess journalist.”

In October, Peter's first book The Chess Revolution will be published!

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