22 t/m 30 December 2018

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.



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.’


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.


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..


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.



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…


We present a daily column!

The Chess Festival Groningen proudly presents Benno de Jongh as our daily columnist. De Jongh is a journalist and decent chess player, even though he has never reached a rating of 2000 - and probably never will. Despite that fact he is one of the world's leading experts on the Elephant Gambit and working on a book on the subject, (working title: The Elephant Gambit, A Rare Black Beast with a Proboscis on the Board, publication expected in 2032).undefined

De Jongh will write columns on several chess-related topics, such as Alpha Zero, children in chess, eating behind the board, and Maurice Ashley. His columns will be straightforward, easy-to-read, sometimes sharp-edged, but will always end on a positive note. It's good to point out that De Jongh’s opinions on several chess- and non chess related items do not in any way reflect the policy of the organisation of the festival. The columns will be published daily at around 3 pm Central Groningen Time (CGT).


Playing Venue

Sportcentrum RUG & Hanze
Blauwborgje 16, 9747 AC Groningen


There is no official tournament hotel. Of course the organizers are more than willing to give advice or answer questions about accommodation. Our sponsor has varying offers and actions and can be found via www.hotels.nl.

Tournament Entry

Information can be viewed on the specific group pages.


Bankwire the entry fee, including name(s) of participant(s) to:
NL26 INGB 0007 1113 01 attn. 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 2018
DateOpen Tournament A, B, C4-person TounamentCompactStudent TournamentYouth Grand PrixUniversity ChallengeCommentary
22-12-2018Round 1Round 1
23-12-2018Round 2 and 3Round 2Entire tournament
24-12-2018Round 4Round 3
25-12-2018Merry Christmas!
26-12-2018Round 5Round 1
27-12-2018Round 6Round 2Round 1
28-12-2018Round 7Round 3Entire tournamentRound 2Gert Ligterink
29-12-2018Round 8Round 4Round 3Gert Ligterink
30-12-2018Round 9Round 5Round 4Gert Ligterink

Open A (>2000)

Prize fund: > € 6000,-
First prize: € 1800,-
First prize women: € 400,-
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 11.00 – 12.00 hrs Registration
22 December 13.00 – 19.00 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 11.00 – 12.00 hrs Registration
22 December 13.00 – 19.00 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

Schedule will follow.


Youth Grand Prix

In the North of the Netherlands each year a Grand Prix cyclus is organized for younger youth players.
On Friday 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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