February 06, 2013 12:23

Tata Steel: the simuls

Tata Steel: the simuls

Once a year, the small village of Wijk aan Zee is in the chess world’s spotlights thanks to the traditional Tata Steel Chess Tournament. The event is famous because for its super strong A-group, won this year by Magnus Carlsen, and a B- and C-group which could form a prestigious main tournament in any other city!

By Lennart Ootes

However, the Tata tournament is really special because of its impulse to the Dutch chess scene. Thousands and thousands of chess enthusiasts visit Wijk aan Zee to watch the games, enjoy the commentary in "the pavilion" or to play in one of the many amateur events. Others get the chance to compete against a grandmaster during various simultaneous exhibitions, held after the tournament. For two weeks, chess is in the newspapers and on national TV. All these side events really show the importance of the Tata tournament in the Netherlands.

Audience in Wijk aan Zee

Two young kids having their first contact with chess, watching the games

The tournament in Wijk aan Zee is held in a big sports center called "De Moriaan". In the shadow of the grandmaster groups, many different amateur events are played in the same hall, just a few meters away from the top guns.

The most well-known amateur event is the 10-player round robin, with more than 50 groups. The winners of the two highest groups have the right to play in "Tata C" the next year. This year the prestigious spots went to FM Etienne Goudriaan and IM Merijn van Delft. However, both winners of group 1A and 1B earned the same amount of prize money as the winner of group 9H, with an average rating of 1300!

Sports Center De Moriaan , occupied by hundreds of chess amateurs. In the back you will find the grandmaster groups

Apart from these 9-round events, other tournaments were organized as well: 3-round events (a 4-player round robin, both during the weekend and mid-week), a two-day rapid event and special tournaments for journalists, companies, parliamentarians and even the arbiters. About 2,000 people played chess in De Moriaan this year. 

Simultaneous exhibition Russian Embassy in The Hague town hall 

The Dutch "chess madness" didn’t stop once the tournament was over! At several places the grandmasters gave simultaneous exhibitions. The day after the tournament, Sergey Karjakin, Anish Giri and Sergei Tiviakov played a simul in the town hall of The Hague. The grandmasters faced 30 opponents each, most of them living in the region.

Ambassador of Russia in the Netherlands, Roman Kolodkin, next to Sergei Tiviakov, Sergey Karjakin,
Mayor of The Hague Jozias van Aartsen and Anish Giri | Photos © Sir Francis

Sergey Karjakin, currently ranked number 5 in the world, shared the 3rd place in Wijk. The Muscovite had the hardest day of all. He lost 4 of his games and drew 3 of them. The winners were Johan-Martijn ten Hove, Elwin v.d. Auweraert, Boudewijn v.d. Haar and 12-year-old Robby Kevlishvili.

PGN string

Sergey Karjakin vs. Robby Kevlishvili. Robby is Dutch youth champion U13 | Photo © Sir Francis

Anish Giri and Sergei Tiviakov did a better job, drawing respectively two games and one game.

The simultaneous exhibition was organized for the second consecutive year by chess club DD, the Consular Department of the Embassy of the Russian Federation and the municipality of The Hague. The theme of the simul was the Netherlands-Russia year 2013, which consists of many events throughout the country.

Sergei Tiviakov pondering a move against a girl from Barcelona. Tiviakov won the game | Photo © Sir Francis

Anish Giri skipped another day at school. After the simul his main focus
finally went to the school exams in May
 | Photo © Sir Francis

The town hall is one of the many remarkable buildings in The Hague | Photo © Sir Francis


Torentjesschaak is yet another unique simultaneous event – called after the "Torentje" [literally 'small tower'] , the official office of the Prime Minister of the Netherlands. It is an annual event for (former) members of the parliament, political journalists and people with a special connection to the parliament. The event serves as a meeting point for politicians, business people and chess personalities.

This year, Chinese former World Champion Hou Yifan got to play her simul in the central hall of the House of Representatives building. She beat all her opponents, and afterward she chose Gerrit Valk, former member of the House of Representatives, as the one opponent who offered most opposition during the game.

Gerrit Valk receiving the trophy from Mayor of The Hague Jozias van Aartsen | Photo © Sir Francis

Hou Yifan

President of the House of Representatives of the Netherlands Anouchka van Miltenburg and Eric van der Oest,
the organizer of Torentjesschaak and manager public affairs Tata Steel Netherlands | Photo © Sir Francis

Chess in jail

Grandmaster Friso Nijboer gave a simul for the Staff Association of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment. The former chess professional (nowadays Junior Business Engineer at a company called Finaps) showed some highlights from Tata 2013 before his simul, and lost only one of his games, against…  Robby Kevlishvili. He did it again!

Friso Nijboer

As the chess madness took over the whole country, there was even a simultaneous exhibition in a jail! 29-year-old Vincent Oudewaal (rated 2050 – no criminal!) played a simul at the prison of Zutphen. His report:

After a half an hour safety check we had to leave all our belongings at the entrance, as we weren’t allowed to take anything inside the jail. We arrived on the 2nd floor of the jail’s recreation room, which was secured with old fashioned metal bars. And there they were: 20 guys, 20 very big guys, talking out loud. I thought this only happened in the movies! And the best was yet to come. The simul started and... dead silence! One could hear a pin drop.”

Vincent Oudewaal in front of the jail in Zutphen

Editors's picture
Author: Editors


Anonymous's picture

Tiviakov's photo made me think WTF at the very fist glance; moreover, it took me some time to realize her arm is not his leg... Not very fortunate shot if you ask me...

Born's picture

That's pretty far fetched..

Anonymous's picture

Nothing unfortunate about the shot, just an untoward comment on your part.

paul's picture

Tiviakov is far better looking than his chess style is!

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