Invasion of India postponed

Report closing ceremony

At the closing ceremony, tournament director Loek van Wely spoke of a very enjoyable jubilee edition, ‘with two top matches with exciting chess, and a strong Open. And this time we had a beautiful art exhibition by Yvon Drummen, who also made the prizes for the matches. I hope everybody had a good time.’

Next, Van Wely handed out the prizes for the Amateur group 1 together with chief arbiter Frans Peeters (the other Amateur group had been finished in the morning). Oele Dijkhuis won first prize here with 8 out of 8. About this youth player, a rival had said, “That little guy is really good.’ Second to seventh prizes were for Christiaan Mol, Henk Sijen, David Knight, Harry Boerkamp, Dick Stavast and Bartelo Oegema.

Amateur II

Amateur I

Van Wely expressed his joy about the fact that several norms had been made in the Open. And: ‘I was worrying about the Indian domination, and I thought: if this goes wrong we may have to invade India. But today I did some calculating, and it turns out that together they have won 28 rating points here. I wonder if this is enough reason for retaliation.’ He didn’t give an answer to this question yet... ‘The Netherlands disappointed a little, with the exception of Lucas van Foreest – I would have preferred to see it the other way round’, Van Wely said, teasing Lucas as usual.

Norm certificates were handed out to Casper Schoppen (14, his first IM norm), Lucas van Foreest (15) and 15-year-old Rakesh Kumar Jena, for whom it was his third IM norm. Van Foreest scored 3 points out of 5 games against grandmasters; if we count his earlier GM norm, he now has three norms, and so he can apply for the title if he can raise his rating just a little higher. If he wants to – Lucas never applied for the FM title, but he has told us that he does want the IM title.

Van Wely and Peeters handed out the prizes for the Open to the winner – the same one as last year: Abhijeet Gupta, number 2 Chanda Sandipan, numbers 3-7 – Babu Lalith, Sundar Shyam, Lucas van Foreest, Oleg Romanishin and Casper Schoppen, and numbers 8-11 – Rakesh Jena, Sipke Ernst, S.Nitin and Lars Vereggen. About Gupta, who won the tournament for the second time in a row, Van Wely joked: ‘I don’t think he understood what it means to be invited back – we were just being polite.’ Maaike Keetman, who ended on 5½ points, received the rating prize, and there was a special attention for the visiting Jan Oldenkamp, who was the material supervisor for the tournament for 19 years.

Next, Van Wely thanked his staff, and then gave flowers to a number of indispensable ladies: Diny van der Weide, Roos Koekoek, Mila Bottema and Petra Huizer – and then also to Hou Yifan and her mother, who had stood by her for the entire week. Van Wely also thanked the sponsors, and introduced the artist Yvon Drummen, who had made the prizes for the match winners.

Ivan Sokolov, who had held off Jorden van Foreest, got a beautiful multi-colour terracotta chess game. ‘For our PR it would have been better if Jorden had won’, Van Wely joked. ‘But alas, my old comrade in battle beat him. Ivan, I’m still glad that you have kept the youth under your thumb for a little longer.’ ‘I did my best to lose, especially with Black’, Sokolov apologized. ‘But my opponent didn’t cooperate.’ 

Nigel Short, whose vast experience also prevailed against Hou Yifan, received a sculpture of a head with chess patterns. ‘Chess can get under your skin’, Yvon Drummen explained. Van Wely said he would also have preferred to see Hou Yifan win, ‘but for Nigel it was a matter of life and death, and he fought very hard.’ And, referring to Short’s notorious New In Chess article about chess-playing women: ‘Now you can go on writing your columns and say whatever you want.’

Alderman Jan Steenbergen, who held his speech in English, called the chess tournament, with 216 players from 15 countries, a perfect match with the ‘city of sports’ Hoogeveen. ‘Press reports say that the event was very spectacular, and exciting till the very end. The Open was dominated by Indians, but some Dutch players also performed very strongly.’ He thanked the competitors, the members of the press and all the staff of the city hall: ‘They have made this 20th edition a real happening. I hope we can welcome you again next year, and that the 21st edition will be unforgettable.’

Alderman Jan Steenbergen