21 t/m 30 December 2019

Chess Festival Groningen

Nederlands Nederlands

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.

Groninger Banter Chess Championship + After Chess

The Banter Chess Championship match, presented and explained by Jan Joris Groenewold, between Sipke and Jorden was won by the young guy Jorden. In the first game white (Jorden) caused black some problems in a Scotch, but Sipke fought back and reached an equal ending. In the second game Sipke seemed on top, but when he sacrificed a piece, Jorden started to play very accurately and eventually managed to give back the piece for a better ending. The combination of position and a significant time advantage gave Jorden the win: 1.5 - 0.5. An important remark: The jury (spectators) also rewarded Jorden with the price of best trashtalker.undefinedThe biggest winner of the evening was however, Chess Café Hooghoudt Proeflokaal. In this pub it's proven, day in day out, that Chess can be fun for all levels and in all forms. It therefore organizes, once again, an After Chess program during the Chess Festival:

24 Dec.: Fischer Random chess (Chess960).
25 Dec.: Christmas day, Hooghoudt Proeflokaal closed.
26 Dec.: Stratego Chess.
27 Dec.: SISSA Christmas Blitz.(www.jsvsissa.nl)
28 Dec.: Hands & Brains.
29 Dec.: Dutch Bughouse / Doorgeefschaak.

All activities will start at 20.30 hrs.
Chess Café Hooghoudt Proeflokaal:
Gedempte Zuiderdiep 61, 9711 HC Groningen.

Open B and C merged

The organization and arbiters have decided to merge the Open B and C group into 1 group. There will be prizes for different ratinggroups, so that the participants of the C group still have fair chances to fight for a priza.

Meet the players – Eelke de Boer

Eelke de Boer (2003) is one of Groningen’s most talented young players. In a city with a lot of strong young players, that ought to tell us something. Eelke played his first real chess games at the youth tournament of our Chess Festival in 2009. He won second prize in his group and was awarded his first trophy by Robin van Kampen, who then played a match against Jan Timman that year (the first match-up between young and old on the festival). Later on, Eelke went on to become four times Dutch champion in his age group and last September he reached 5th place at the European Championship, just missing the title. He has already beaten some GMs and his rating has crossed the 2300 barrier. Now it’s Eelkes turn to represent the City of Talent in a match against GM Dennis de Vreugt.undefined

How would you describe your playing style? Has it changed during the course of years?
In my first years of chess I was a very aggressive player and I still am, but my attacking skills are much more refined now. I think my style has changed in the sense that if I have the choice between a sharp, double-edged position and a position in which I have a small but stable edge, I would choose the latter.

What is your favourite opening? Is there also an opening you like but have never played?
My favourite opening is the King's Indian, when played well. I have always thought the Benko gambit would be quite fun to play.

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).

Meet the players – Melanie Lubbe

WGM Melanie Lubbe (1990) is no stranger to Groningen. She obtained her masters degree in Organizational Psychology from the University of Groningen and also regularly plays for the city’s chess club SISSA. She started working in human resources in Braunschweig, Germany, where she lives together with her husband Nikolas Lubbe (who by the way is also attending the Chess Festival). Besides her ‘real job’ she also presents several shows on Chess24. Her ambition off the board is to enjoy her job while still finding time for family and friends as well as sports and chess. With three IM norms already in the pocket, she hopes to improve her rating of 2345 to get her IM title.undefined

What do you think of the city of Groningen?
Oh, I do love the city with its charming atmosphere, its cosy stores and cafes and hundreds of bicycles. When doing my masters degree here, I took Groningen to my heart.

How would you describe your playing style? Did it change during the course of years?
I prefer complicated positions with lots of tactical motives and opportunities. However, I am not afraid of queen exchanges anymore, like I used to be.

University Challenge

We're happy to announce that we'll have a match between Dennis de Vreugt and Eelke de Boer during this years edition of the Chess Festival Groningen. Dennis is a Grandmaster and a double European Youth Champion. Eelke is one of the many great chess talents from Groningen, who missed the European youth crown by a whisker this year. Surely he'll want to show that he can match Dennis. Two two will battle it out in 4 classical games from 27 - 30 December.

Meet the players - Maxim Turov

Maxim Turov (1979) is a Russian Grandmaster and, according to his answers, one of the more relaxed ones. Of course he takes chess seriously, as his rating suggests (2618), but at the same time the pleasure of the game seems at least as important to him. Among many other tournaments, he won the Dutch Open in Dieren in 2005 and 2011. Turov now primarily works as a coach. Since 2016 he and his family have been based in St. Petersburg and before that in Tromso, Norway. His students vary from the age of 8 till 88 and from beginners till national team members.undefined

How would you describe your playing style?
In my opinion, the term ‘playing style’ has gone... Nowadays if one is not flexible and universal, one is not a chess player.

How do you cope with stress behind the board?
I think life could be way more stressful than any game of chess. Yes, it's a very nice and deep game, but we all are moving wooden pieces... Not a big deal if something went wrong.

Second edition Student Christmas Chess

The Groninger Student Chess Championship is meant for pub, home and internet chess players whom aren't subscribed at an official chess club. First prize of €150 is guaranteed and entry is free. 


Above the organizers Arjan and Koen and last years deserved winner Arno Holtrop with his price, worth 75 beers. The battle between associations was won by FMF and HCSA. Who'll beat them this year? All information can be viewed via 'Student Chess.'

Groningen Talking Chess Championship

Groningen Talking Chess Championship
Wednesday, December 13, 8pm
Two games, 15 min per person per game
Live Commentary

Proeflokaal Hooghoudt, Gedempte Zuiderdiep 61
Free entry and 1 free drink

Jorden van Foreest                                                          Sipke Ernst


Ding dong!

The days are getting shorter and with some imagination you can hear the Christmas bells chiming... the Chess Festival in Groningen is getting near! And what could be a better way of spending these dark days than to play some nice games of chess? You have a choice of playing in one of the open groups (nine rounds), a four person round robin (three), or a Compact group (five). And if you are a student at the RUG and a beginning chess player, you can participate for free in the Student Tournament.

As always, this year's tournament will be held from the 22th till the 30th of December. This time the full tournament will be played in the familiar playing hall of the ACLO at Zernike Campus. At the ACLO we're hoping to welcome once more a horde of enthousiastic chess players from all over the globe. Not convinced yet? We have to offer: live commentary, daily reports, chess merch stands, Christmas blitz, After Chess in chess café Proeflokaal Hooghoudt, and most importantly an excellent atmosphere. Be there!

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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

Opens on September 1st.

Tournament Regulations

Download the Tournament Regulations.


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

Questions about the pairings? Email: arbiter.chessfestival@gmail.com

Chess Festival Groningen 2019
DateOpen Tournament A, B, C4-person TounamentCompactStudent TournamentYouth Grand PrixUniversity ChallengeCommentaryAfter Chess
21-12-2019Round 1
22-12-2019Round 2Round 1
23-12-2019Round 3Round 2Will follow
24-12-2019Round 4Round 3
25-12-2019Merry Christmas!
26-12-2019Round 5Round 1
27-12-2019Round 6Round 2
28-12-2019Round 7Round 3Will follow
29-12-2019Round 8Round 4
30-12-2019Round 9Round 5

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

21 December 11.00 – 12.00 hrs Registration
21 December 13.00 – 19.00 hrs Round 1
22 December 13.00 – 19.00 hrs Round 2
23 December 13.00 – 19.00 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.


Youth Grand Prix

In the North of the Netherlands each year a Grand Prix cyclus is organized for younger youth players.
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. You can find the program in the Tournament Schedule. For more information, go to the Facebook page of the 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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