22 t/m 30 December 2017

Chess Festival Groningen

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Column # 8 – Monkey business

We all have dreams. As I am sitting in my living room behind my computer here in Groningen, I take a look outside at the grey, misty sky. I imagine myself at the South coast of Italy. I am in a small hotel where I’m one of the few guests. In the morning I work on my novel. In the afternoon I eat a pasta dish with fresh seafood that the cook prepares just for me. I then take an after-lunch nap and drink some cocktails with the other guests. I do a little more writing and then –in the evening – I eat a pasta dish with a sage/butter sauce, drink a nice glass of local, red wine, and joke a bit with the waiter. In the night time I go for a swim between the rocks of the Mediterranean Sea. The water is still warm from the past summer and I am accompanied by a girl from the local village, who happens to be there too. Once the temperatures in my home country rise again, I go home and meet my family and friends. At that point, my novel has been translated into seventeen languages. After spending the summer in the Netherlands, I return to the hotel in Italy.


Column # 7 - Child's play

Children are disgusting little creatures. They are the only mammal on earth that require intensive, perennial care, cost lots of money, are bad for the environment, and the main reason for overpopulation. Children are erratic, think they’re funny and get away with almost anything. They cry if they don’t get enough attention and when they are quiet for a second they will immediately break the silence and ask stupid questions.

Children contribute little to the average household, whereas it doesn’t seem too much to ask to have a cookbook assist them in cooking a decent meal every once in a while. Children don’t drink, so having a good time with them is rare. And once they finally do get older they transform into a even worse specie, the adolescent, before they finally, after all those years, become reasonable human beings.



Round 7 - Youth Grand Prix and match day 2

undefinedEelke de Boer struck back in his match against Dennis de Vreugt. Both players had their chances, and de Vreugt actually was in the drivers seat for the longest time, but Eelke showed his strength when Dennis stumbled just before the finish line.undefined

In the A - group the first bord was a relatively calm draw, but otherwise it was a bloodbath with 3 chasers catching up with Plat en Postny. Turov, Bok and Kislinsky managed to beat Rahul, Kryakvin and Tiviakov and there is now a 5-way tie for first place.undefined

The Chess festival is more than just a tournament; it offers chances to young and old, newbies and veterans. We've had the Student Christmas Chess on the 23rd and this round we had the Youth Grand Prix. With many of the older youth players already participating in the senior tournaments, we're happy that no less than 45 youngsters showed up to participate. Winner of the day was Johnny Albadeen.undefined


Photos: Harry Gielen (and: Youth)

Report: Koen 

Column # 6 – Opening line

I love chess openings, I do. Not really a good story to tell on a Saturday evening in a bar when a nice lady asks you: ‘And, what are your hobbies?’ (Although one can question the likeability of someone who asks that question on a Saturday evening in the first place, but that’s another story)

My chess openings hobby is rather serious. I make lists of alternative definitions of openings - like if they weren’t chess openings. I hope you understand. You have to do something in your spare time, right?undefined

Column # 5 – Rating fetishism

The first question your colleague chess player asks is never if you would like something to drink or how your mother is. It is always: ‘What is your new rating?’ The chess player who has lost nine rating points on the new Elo rating list, considers selling his house and leaving the country forever. Gained fourteen points? The player orders a case of champagne, drinks it, and dares to show his face at the chess club again.

Rating terror flourishes in the chess world. A few weeks ago a team member of mine lost a long, difficult game. The first thing his opponent asked was: ‘What is your rating?’ My team member answered, and the first reaction on the other side of the board was a typical one: ‘Oh, then I only won four rating points.’


Round 5

An uneventful draw left tournament leader Plat in pole position, since none of his chasers managed to win their game. Tomorrow Groninger favorite Tiviakov will take on Plat with White. For some entertainment, watch the games by Kislinsky, Lubbe and Beerdsen. 


Column # 4 – Alpha Bravo Charlie

December is always a bit of a strange month. Vague nostalgic feelings get drowned in alcohol and the empty feeling in our stomachs is filled by turkey and venison. In the meantime we come together with those we normally trying to avoid as much as possible; our dear family. A month of contradictions so to say, and that was certainly the case in the world of chess this December. During the London Chess Classics the crème de la crème of human chess played one draw after the other, while somewhere on the internet or in the cloud new kid on the block AlphaZero crushed Stockfish, the best chess computer known to man (and to computers), until now.

As boring as the human games were, so exciting were the pieces of art AlphaZero produced. Magnus Carlsen proved to be human after all by playing his worst game in years (against Ian Nepomniachtchi). At the same time AlphaZero was called an ‘alien’. Other commentators thought Alpha (I can call him Alpha) on the other hand produced very humanlike chess, which proves that nobody exactly knew what was going on. One thing was clear: this was something else.


Round 4

With Christmas on the doorstep, we're left with just 1 leader in the tournament. Kryakvin picked an anti-theoretical d3-line to fight blacks Grünfeld, and he managed to get some play. Plat correctly estimated that sacrificing his b7 pawn would grant him enough play, and eventually whites queen. The position was more or less balanced with knight, rook and pawn for a queen, but blacks queen found some nice targets and eventually brought home the win for Vojtech. Other winners Pruijssers, Turov, Bok, Tiviakov and Postny are only halve a point behind, so no time to rest, except for tomorrow, since Christmas day is a rest day. 

Merry Christmas and we'll speak again on tuesday.

Photos Harry Gielen - Day 3

Column # 3 - An American

Maurice Ashley is an American. Maurice loves chess, women, dancing, and himself. Maurice also loves commentating on chess. But foremost Maurice loves money. If a grandmaster makes a great move, he calls it the ‘money move’. If the game is decided, Maurice shouts: ‘That’s money, baby!‘.

Maurice Ashley is an American. Maurice loves dollars. On the internet there’s a clip in which Maurice delivers a speech at an elementary school in one of America’s worst neighbourhoods. Maurice’s message: Passion is nice, but it’s primarily about the money. More than half of his story is about making money and about if one really wants to reach something, then that’s really possible if one tries hard enough, like Maurice. He reached the top and became rich, and that’s nothing to be ashamed of..


Day 2 (round 2 and 3)

After 3 rounds of the Chessfestival Groningen almost everything is 'as it should be,' if we look at pre-tournament predictions. Grandmasters Vojtech Plat and Dmitry Kryakvin lead the tournament and play eachother in the fourth round. All other grandmasters follow on the next six boards, with 2 of the dutch favorites Sipke Ernst and Benjamin Bok playing eachother in round 4 and Groningers nr. 2 Tiviakov taking on Kuipers on board 4. We'll keep an eye on the biggest surprise of the tournament, former inhabitant of Assen, Elmar Hommes who beat 2 stronger opponents and held 1 to a draw. This round he faces his thoughest opponent yet, dutch grandmaster Roeland Pruijssers.

Column # 2 – Food for thought


The chess player is a strange animal. You didn’t know that? Well, take a look around in the playing venue. Do you spot the guy in the sweater moving his head like a Tibetan monk? And there, a little further on, do you see that man with the gray moustache who is adjusting all his pieces after he moved one?

Everybody who plays chess at a certain level knows that al kind of tics, strange habits, and superstitions are regularly seen behind the board. Strange? Perhaps not, because there’s the prestige and rating points at stake. Adrenaline levels increase and at the same time players are expected to sit behind the board quietly.



Round 1

Last year we had a first round with many upsets. This year the players followed dr. ELO more strictly, although we still had surprising results from Rahul vs Kislinsky and Weggen vs Lubbe. If you're looking for some rollercoaster games, you should definitely have a look at the games of Kryakvin and Ernst. Their opponents showed no fear whatsoever and proved that chess is a sport for spectators. Most of the top seeds managed to win their game, although Tiviakov might have lost some valuable energy in grinding his endgame with the double round of tomorrow ahead.

Photos Harry Gielen Day 1

Column # 1 – Chess, a sport?

Every year, as I walk into the tournament hall at the Chess Festival, the scene makes a strange impression on me. Playing chess below fluorescent lamps in a gym? Playing chess at a location where people normally run, scream, and sweat? Don’t chess tournaments belong in a club with oak-wooden tables, where serious men in three-piece suits ceremoniously play their moves while holding cigars?

‘Chess is everything: art, science, and sport,’ Anatoly Karpov said. Art, for sure. Every chess player who has won a game by a fierce mating attack, will consider his game a true piece of art, similar to a Jackson Pollock ‘action-painting’. The chess player who prefers to win a pawn in the middle game and eventually cash in in the late endgame will relate more to the 17th century Dutch masters. I can picture Karpov with a paintbrush in his hands, behind his easel. A little point here, a small stripe there…


Meet the Players - Sipke Ernst

GM Sipke Ernst (1979) divides his time about equally between playing chess and coaching. He moved to Groningen as a student, holds an MA degree in Dutch Language and Culture from the University of Groningen, and can definitely be called a ‘local hero’. The six-time Chess Festival winner plays for chess club Groninger Combinatie. Winning several tournaments around the world and playing in the German, Belgian, French, and Spanish league, he is, however, not just a local hero. This year he became second in the Dutch Championships, just missing the title after a hard-fought tie-break against Loek van Wely. As a chess coach Ernst is very active too, coaching – mostly young - players from a wide variety of countries such as India, South-Africa, the U.S., and Germany. With his experience and a rating of 2532 it’s fair to say that he might also be one of the favourites to win this year’s edition of the Chess Festival.undefined

How would you describe your playing style? Has it changed during the course of years?
My playing style is 'jazzy'. When I was young I played like a bulldozer.

A chess game can be quite stressful. How do you cope with that?
I actually wish I experienced a bit more stress during a game…

Meet the players - Nick Maatman

During the last edition of the Chess Festival FM Nick Maatman (1995) beat rating favourite Krasenkow, scoring his second IM norm. This year Maatman is ready for some more major upsets. Maatman studies Finance & Control in Groningen and plays for chess club SISSA. His ambitions in ‘real life’ - as he calls it - are still to be discovered, but in chess it’s quit clear. With a rating of 2367, steadily growing, and one norm to go, the IM title seems to be a matter of time.


How would you describe your playing style?
I always feel that it is hard to describe your own style. I am not a very practical player, I will always try to find the best move which often leads to games where both players find themselves in time trouble. I am trying to become a bit more practical, I am currently trying to rely more on my intuition and speed up my game.

What is your favourite opening? And what is your favourite opening you never play?
The one opening that I have consistently played during my youth is the French. It is definitely not the best option available versus 1. e4, but it’s the opening that I have the best results with. As white I have almost always played 1. d4 and I don’t mind facing obscure openings like the Tarrasch, Budapest and Albin Countergambit.

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Sponsors and partners

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Playing Venue

Sportcentrum RUG & Hanze
Blauwborgje 16, 9747 AC Groningen


The Postillion Hotel Haren has a special offer for participants of the Chess Festival: Click here!

Bookings via info@chessfestival.nl stating: Number of nights and persons, Names, Address and Phonenumber.

Transport from and to the playing hall is easy by car or public transport.
With every booking you support the Chess Festival.

Directions from hotel to playing hall.
Directions from playing hall to hotel.

Tournament Entry

Information can be viewed on the specific group pages.
Entry Form: here


Bankwire the entry fee, including name(s) of participant(s) to:
NL26 INGB 0007 1113 01 tnv Stichting Schaakfestival Groningen.


ING Bank N.V.
Foreign Operations
PO Box 1800
1000 BV Amsterdam


Tournament director: Koen Lambrechts
Tel: +31 (0)6 17650767

Chess Festival Groningen 2017
DateOpen Tournament A, B, C4-person TounamentCompactStudent TournamentYouth Grand PrixCommentary
22-12-2017Round 1Round 1
23-12-2017Round 2 and 3Round 2Entire tournament
24-12-2017Round 4Round 3
25-12-2017Merry Christmas!
26-12-2017Round 5Round 1
27-12-2017Round 6Round 2
28-12-2017Round 7Round 3Entire tournamentGert Ligterink
29-12-2017Round 8Round 4Gert Ligterink
30-12-2017Round 9Round 5Gert Ligterink

Open A (>2000)

Prize fund: € 6000,-
Entry fee before 15th of December: € 64,-
Entry fee after 15th of December (Only in cash on registration): €70,-
GM's, IM's and WGM's free.

Open B (<2100 en >1600)

Prize fund: € 1500,-
Entry fee before 15th of December: € 64,-
Entry fee after 15th of December (Only in cash on registration): €70,-

Open C (<1700)

Prize fund: € 750,-
Entry fee before 15th of December: € 64,-
Entry fee after 15th of December (Only in cash on registration): €70,-

The Open A, B and C will play a 9 round Swiss tournament.
In case of insufficient participation we reserve the right to merge groups B and C.


In Open A a bye (half a point) is possible in one of the rounds 1, 2, 3. In Open B and Open C a bye (half a point) is possible in one of the rounds 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5. Please request this bye on your entry form under 'Questions'. Absence in a later round scores 0 points, but is allowed if noted before the pairing.

Playing schedule

22 December 15.00 – 16.00 hrs Registration
22 December 17.00 – 23.00 hrs Round 1
23 December 10.00 – 16.00 hrs Round 2
23 December 17.00 – 23.00 hrs Round 3
24 December 13.00 – 19.00 hrs Round 4
25 December   Rest day
26 December 13.00 – 19.00 hrs Round 5
27 December 13.00 – 19.00 hrs Round 6
28 December 13.00 – 19.00 hrs Round 7
29 December 13.00 – 19.00 hrs Round 8
30 December 11.00 – 17.00 hrs Round 9
30 December ± 18.00 hrs Prizegiving ceremony

Time control: 40 moves in 90 minutes + 30 minutes for the remainder of the game + an increment of 30 seconds per move from move 1.

Groups of 4, based on rating. Requests not to be play in the same group can be send to info@chessfestival.nl

Prize fund each group: € 45,-
Entry fee: € 15,-

Playing schedule

22 December 15.00 – 16.00 hrs Registration
22 December 17.00 – 23.00 hrs Round 1
23 December 13.00 – 19.00 hrs Round 2
24 December 13.00 – 19.00 hrs Round 3
  Followed by prizegiving ceremony

Time control: 40 moves in 90 minutes + 30 minutes for the remainder of the game + an increment of 30 seconds per move from move 1.

Groningen Compact

A five round Swiss tournament in groups of about 40 players, split up according to playing strength.
First prize in each group: € 200,-
prize fund per group: € 600,-.
Entry fee before 15th of December: € 35,-
Entry fee after 15th of December (Only in cash on registration): €40,-


A bye (half a point) is possible only in round 1 and must be requested as well as confirmed by e-mail before December 24th.

Playing schedule

26 December 11.00 – 12.00 hrs Registration
26 December 13.00 – 19.00 hrs Ronde 1
27 December 13.00 – 19.00 hrs Ronde 2
28 December 13.00 – 19.00 hrs Ronde 3
29 December 13.00 – 19.00 hrs Ronde 4
30 December 11.00 – 17.00 hrs Ronde 5
30 December ± 18.00 hrs Prizegiving ceremony

Time control: 40 moves in 90 minutes + 30 minutes for the remainder of the game + an increment of 30 seconds per move from move 1.

Students Christmas Chess

This tournament is organized for students who like to play chess, but have never competed in official tournaments or competitions. Any student (Rijksuniversiteit Groningen (including PhD) or Hanze Hogeschool Groningen) who doesn't have a FIDE or KNSB rating can participate. Prizes will be awarded based on individual scores and on the score of the best 3 players of each student association. For each student association, 1 player with a rating of <1501 can participate. This player cannot win any individual prize, but his score does count for the total score of the association. If you are unfamiliar with the term 'rating' you most likely don't have one, so don't worry.

Entry is free and you can register by sending an e-mail to info@chessfestival.nl including your name, student number and (optionally) student association. To confirm your participation you have to register in person on the 23th of December at 11.45 in the playing hall; bring your student card .

Individual Prizes: 1. €150 2. €75 3. €50
Association Prize: €120 for the winning association (half goes to the three players directly, half goes to the association)

In case of a shared 1st, 2nd or 3rd place the prizes are shared. Rules for the Association Prize: The points of the 3 best scoring players of one association are added. The highest scoring association wins the prize.

Sportcentrum RUG & Hanze Blauwborgje 16, 9747 AC Groningen

Playing schedule

23 December 11.45 – 12.00 hrs Registration
23 December 12.00 – 12.40 hrs Ronde 1
23 December 12.50 – 13.30 hrs Ronde 2
23 December 13.40 – 14.20 hrs Ronde 3
23 December 15.00 – 15.40 hrs Ronde 4
23 December 15.50 – 16.30 hrs Ronde 5
23 December ± 16.30 hrs Prizegiving ceremony


Youth Grand Prix

In the North of the Netherlands each year a Grand Prix cyclus is organized for younger youth players.
On Thursday the 28th of December one of these tournaments will take place during the Chess Festival Groningen. More information: here


After Chess

Like previous editions there will be After Chess during the tournament, organized in chess cafe Proeflokaal Hooghoudt. The address: Gedempte Zuiderdiep 61, 9711 HC Groningen. The program will be published on the Facebook of cafe Proeflokaal Hooghoudt.



Our Chess Festival is situated in the student sports complex. This offers a perfect opportunity to exercise both mind and body. During the Chess Festival there will be opportunity to play squash or football.


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