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.
A chess game can be quite stressful. How do you cope with that?
Being in a stressful state is obviously not the healthiest state for your body, but I like the fact that it makes me more focused, so I try to take advantage of it.
What kind of influence did your place and country of birth have on the chess player that you have become?
We are fortunate that there are a lot of tournaments in the Netherlands. I also love the atmosphere at the tournaments. If I had been born in another country I would maybe never even have played chess at all.
How do you see the role of the computer in chess now and in the future?
It is a great tool that can help in your training. Another big advantage of computers is that it can help explain the games of top players who are much stronger than you. I think the role of computers will remain similar even if they get much stronger.
How do you prepare for your opponents? Do you only study openings or also consider factors like their weaknesses, psychology, or other things?
I am not a psychology kind of guy so I just look at the database and try to memorize some lines.
Is winning a game nicer than the pain of losing a game?
I definitely am a member of the group that think that losing feels worse than the pleasure of winning, but I have no clue if it affects future results. I once read an article on some statistics in chess that losing the previous day doesn’t mean you have a higher chance to lose the next day as well.
If you could choose to be a second, to whom would it be?
I like Fabiano Caruana’s personality so I wouldn’t mind being his second. However, I am so bad at preparing openings that he would probably choose someone else.
How do you think the game of chess will be in fifty years?
I hope it will still exist and that the chess community will have grown. Somehow we have to figure out how to compete better against computer games.
What is the strangest or nicest (real) dream you ever had about chess?
Chess has never played a big role in my dreams, although I do remember that I once played a game in my dream where I had a position in which I managed to win with stunning tactics.
- Benno de Jongh -
Photo: Harry Gielen