Van Wely wins birthday tournament Karel van Delft

| 0 | Chess Event Coverage
On November 23, Apeldoorns chess centipede Karel van Delft turned fitfy. To celebrate this, Merijn and Marijke van Delft had come up with a highly unusual present for their father: a blitz tournament with the creme de la creme of the Dutch and Apeldoorn chess world, and on top of that a lot of friends and relatives. More than sufficient for a cheery day full of memorable activities.

The tournament was held last Saturday at the Chess center in Apeldoorn, where a still unknowing Karel arrived around half past two in the afternoon by taxi. Although there were a few people playing blitz already, including your reporters from Doggers-schaak, Karel could not suspect what was awaiting him. One after another they arrived, sometimes accompanied by their partners: young and recent IMs Robert Ris and Thomas Willemze, the brothers Alexander and Lucien van Beek, Homburg Apeldoorn IMs Van de Oudeweteering, Hoffmann, Souleidis and Sievers, and a little later it must have dawned on Karel: this wasn't just a little tournament, this was a little supertournament. There were Dutch top-GMs Daniel Stellwagen and Erwin l'Ami, and one also noticed German Grandmaster Jan Gustafsson shuffling through the room. Danish GM Sune Berg Hansen had even flown all the way from Kopenhagen to attend the tournament. And when Loek van Wely came in with his wife Marion, the tournament was already a success because of the participants list alone - especially when the pairing for the first round was announced: Karel van Delft vs. Loek van Wely on board 1.

The tournament itself was relaxed and extremely well organised. Amateurs and pros played side by side. Debutant arbiter Merijn van Delft didn't hesitate to cast an ironic remark occasionally while reading the pairing, and allow music to play played in the playing hall.

The fact that the laptop and the printer crashed halfway the tournament, didn't seem to bother him at all - truly his father's son. Only when during a round Jan Gustafsson started calling 'Arbiter, arbiter' in a drawling manner, I detected a trace of panic in Merijn's eyes. Surely he didn't have to be a real arbiter? After he got the arbiter's attention, Gusti asked, to Merijn's relief, 'Arbiter, is this your CD?' At that moment, the Turkish camp-hitsong 'Simarik' by Tarkan sounded through the speakers.

But don't for one instant let this story make you think there wasn't any serious chess! There was money at stake, and it was clear that the top seeded players wanted to show their superiority over the young blitz maniacs hovering around the Chess center. Loek van Wely blasted out an impressive 100% score, only to blunder a piece by German IM Michael Hoffman. His lead was, however, so big, that he could even afford to spill half a point to yours truly.

Photo: Henk Vinkes

Jan Gustafsson and Erwin l'Ami were on Loek's heels, but lost a few more half points, last mentioned also against your truly, by the way. Which proves that writing about chess really does improve your chess skills...

Besides the crunching at the top, the performance of young Stefan Kuipers from Apeldoorn was particularly impressive. He stayed among the top boards during the whole tournament. After fifteen rounds, a lot of beer, sandwiches and soup, Loek van Wely was the clear winner. With 13,5 out of 15 he stayed well ahead of Erwin l'Ami (12,5) and Jan Gustafsson (12). But before the prizes were awarded, Merijn and Marijke had another surprise for their father.

First, IM Yochonan Afek, International Master, endgame composer and long time friend of Karel, took over the microphone. He had composed a beautiful study in honour of Karel's 50th birthday.

White to play and win. Afek asked the audience to find the final move of the solution. After a short while, l'Ami was the first to spot the correct solution. The full study was explained by Afek himself:

After that, Martin van Dommelen had prepared a speech. He had with him a huge flower bouquet, and explained that some time ago he'd nominated Karel for the Chess Federation's 'Volunteer of the Year'. The flowers proved that the title had, indeed, gone to Karel this year. Applause.

A deserved reward for Karel's many, even uncountable, organising activities in chess. As Van Dommelen remarked pointely, Karel's vision, which is to combine top chess with broad chess, was in fact succesfully brought into practise on this very day. After some more applause, Merijn went on with the prize ceremony with the words: "Right... now over to more earthly business, the prizes.." A true son of his father. The compete standings can be viewed here in PDF.

After the tournament, there was more beer, more sandwiches, more soup. Sinterklaas [Dutch Santa Claus] also showed up, and played a small match (1-1) with Karel. There was fanatical blitz playing by the usual addicts, card playing by the usual game freaks, and Erwin l'Ami amused a crowd with his findings in the classic game Euwe-Capablanca, Karlsbad 1929. (Who dares to say today's youth doesn't know its classics anymore?)

Euwe-Capablanca Karlsbad 1929

Position after 32.Ba6.

Capablanca played 32...Nd6? and Euwe and Kasparov analysed 32...Rd4 33.Nxc8 Rxe4+ 34.Kd3 Ra4 35.Bc4 Rxa7 36.Nxa7 Kb8 to a win for White. l'Ami's suggestion is 36...g5!?. Replay the game and some extensive analysis by Erwin l'Ami here.

Later in the evening there was also a music quiz with fifty pop songs of the past fifty years. The list of songs that were featured in the quiz can be viewed here in PDF. Only way past midnight did taxi's bring the remaining chess players back to the city. The average Elo-rating in Apeldoorn pop temple 'Gigant' has probably never been so high.

And Karel himself? Well, judging from the sentimental grin on his face, he tremendously enjoyed the attention, the relaxed atmosphere and the true appreciation from all who were present.

Photo: Marco Beerdsen

To stay in this very atmosphere, here some more video impressions of the event. Very nice of course, but really, you had to be there.

Stellwagen-Van Wely Apeldoorn, 2006

Van Wely-Gustafsson Apeldoorn, 2006
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