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.
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…
What kind of influence did your place and country of birth have on the chess player you have become?
I have always had a keen interest in games where the Dutch or The Scheveningen Sicilian were played.
Could you picture yourself being with someone who doesn’t play chess?
My girlfriend stopped playing chess but I hope she will return to playing tournaments one day.
What would your profession be if you weren’t a chess player?
How do you prepare for your opponents?
I look at their games, try to evaluate what they like and don't like and what their weaknesses are. And then I go to the pub.
Is the pleasure of winning some games worth the pain of losing others?
Losing hurts more than winning brings joy.
If you could choose to be a second, to whom – present or past players – would it be? And if you could choose your own second, who would it be?
I would be the second of Tal! If I could choose my own second I would choose Tal as well of course.
How do you think the game of chess will be in fifty years?
I think it is already quite difficult to predict how the game of chess will be in ten years time.
What is the strangest or nicest real dream you have ever had about chess?
I dreamt about chess when I was 6 or 7 years old, although I actually only learned the rules of chess when I was 9!
- Benno de Jongh -
Photo: Harry Gielen