Columns | June 20, 2010 23:18

Smeets & Peng winners peculiar Dutch Championship

Dutch Ch 2010By drawing his last round game in four moves (or rather three and a half) Jan Smeets won the 2010 Dutch Championship. Zhaoqin Peng secured her 12th (!) Dutch title already one round before the end. This year's event will mainly be remembered for its many peculiarities.

The Dutch Championship took place June 11-20 in Eindhoven, The Netherlands. The rate of play was 40 moves in 90 minutes followed by 30 minutes to end the game, with 30 seconds increment from move 1. Venue was the High Tech Campus Eindhoven, a technology center at the site of the former ‘NatLab’, the Philips Physics Laboratory.

In the women's section, Zhaoqin Peng won her 12th title, as convincingly as always. In the open section Jan Smeets finished first with a 6.5/9 score, ahead of 2009 champ Anish Giri. With a draw against Van Wely in the last round, Sipke Ernst secured third place.

An important game for Smeets was his victory against friend and colleague Erwin l'Ami in the penultimate round. Smeets also defeated Nijboer, Bok and Reinderman. Six times winner Van Wely finished on plus one, but did play an important role by beating Anish Giri in the eighth round.

Dutch Ch 2010

Loek van Wely before the tournament: "I'll do my best to stay ahead of Anish as long as possible"

This year's championship will perhaps mostly be remembered not for the winners, or the games that were played, but for the many peculiarities that had nothing to do with a national championship.

Firstly, there were the different starting times of the rounds. The games started two hours later on the days when the Dutch national football team played a game in South Africa. It might not seem a big thing, but one cannot deny that the federation implies that football is more important than chess. As Hans Ree yesterday pointed out in his Saturday column in the newspaper NRC Handelsblad, 'many may have this opinion, but not the federation'.

Other examples of peculiar happenings were Loek van Wely being allowed to play a blitz tournament in Germany during the second round, or the experiment to test Van Wely's stress levels during a game. At first we didn't think too much of it, but now that the tournament is over, we're not sure if all this really belongs to a national championship.

The players themselves seemed to have been affected by this frivolous virus. As you already read here, Bok and Van Wely repeated the same position no less than thirteen times. And today, in the last round, Van Kampen and Smeets played the very brief sequence of moves 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 to finish their game in just two minutes, which secured the title for Smeets.

Dutch Ch 2010

Van Kampen and Smeets have already reached their final position

We agree with Hans Ree that, adding it all up, it seems like the federation and some of the players didn't take this year's national championship as seriously as they should have. One may ask: if they don't take it seriously, who will? The result is that chess will only be reaching mainstream media when one of these peculiarities takes place.

We've seen this with Toiletgate, and in fact this was also the case with this year's championship. Dutch newspapers didn't pay much attention to the championship, but suddenly they mentioned the tournament with a few paragraphs of text on Saturday. The reason? Another odd thing had happened in the seventh round on Friday. After he had accidently cut himself with a bottle, Anish Giri had some blood on his hand and one ear (which he had touched) and because of this he almost fainted. Someone with a First Aid Kit helped him, but the reigning champ wasn't motivated to continue playing. Giri offered a draw to Nijboer, who accepted.

Dutch Ch 2010

Giri and Nijboer, analyzing after a bloody fight

Results & standings

Selection of games

Game viewer by ChessTempo


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Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.


unknown's picture

Congrats Jan!

call_me_ishmael's picture

A 3 move draw is disgraceful. Chess needs the Sofia rules!

Van Kampen and Smeets should be bared from all FIDE rated competitions for at least a year.

Chris's picture

Is a 20 move GM draw any better than a 3 move one ? In both cases there is really no game worth looking at - it's just that the 20 move draw wastes your time because you might actually be conned into playing it over.

Smeets had already got the championship wrapped up as long as he didn't lose, so there was no incentive for him to win, just to avoid losing, which he did very efficiently. Now if the prize money depended on the number of wins ...

Deep Mikey's picture

@Chris: Never thought about the (paying?) spectators/fans and the (paying!) sponsors? Yes, a 20 move draw is 17 moves better than a 3 move draw! :-)

Chris's picture

Mikey, in 1986 I paid good money to be in the fourth row in London for the 3rd game of the World Chess Championship between Karpov & Kasparov.

It turned out to be a rather boring 35 move draw - massive exchanges & a balanced pawn structure. But good games don't just happen to order, & there are interesting draws (I have a great book called Draw ! by Heidenfeld) as well as boring ones.

CAL|Daniel's picture

The one thing I do have to say about that Smeets 3 move draw is it really makes the fiasco of last year's Dutch Championship even more disgraceful. After they yelled at Tivi for agreeing to a draw on move 0 and all the accommodations they gave to Van Wely this year that they refused to Tivi... they simply look like hypocrites

Henk's picture

Public interest must have been very close to zero, judging by the Giri-Nijboer picture.

Remco Gerlich's picture

Tivi agreed to a draw with his opponent immediately after the opening ceremony, then mentioned to the organization that he wouldn't be able to play the game at all so could they please count it as a draw. Then he left the tournament when they said no.

Slightly different from showing up, playing three moves and offering (or accepting) a draw, and also different from agreeing to play one game at another time ("all the accommodations") before the tournament.

Of course last year it turned out afterwards that Tiviakov could have even made it to his next tournament, had he played, with some help getting to Dusseldorf airport -- a whole lot of people were very stubborn, I guess...

JM's picture

Okay, I'll admit that generally a draw on move three is no good. Moreover, I can agree with those blaming Van Kampen for not trying to win. However, please speak up if you're honestly absolutely 100% sure that you personally wouldn't have taken a draw in Smeets' place?! Winning the championship?! Please be honest with yourself, and if you're not really sure what your decision would be, don't criticize Smeets from the sidelines.

Maybe the greatest paragon of fighting chess is Veselin Topalov. Whatever his faults may be, his fighting spirit is quite unanimously acclaimed. Say, hypothetically, that he would have been a point up against Anand before the last game. Do you really believe he wouldn't have taken the draw if possible?

MIEP BOHM's picture


Hans Bohm's picture

Hello Miep,
nice to hear from you. I was born in 1950 so my memories of your Dutch Time are not very vivid. Next week I see my mother (93 years), she still plays chess with the younger neigbour of 87. Maybe my mother remembers you better, greetings, Hans Bohm

test's picture

Smeets was black and a draw secured the title, indeed hard to criticize an early draw offer in that situation if it's not against the rules.

If the organizers didn't want this to happen they should have used some form of Sofia Rules. (I don't think this would have guaranteed an interesting game, but at least it would not have been short if that is what you want to avoid.)

Peter Doggers's picture

This was a combination of a report and a column as soon as it was published. It's not easy, sometimes, to find the best form for a report in which we just have to mention something subjective. I agree that it's more clear to separate reports and columns, but two articles was a bit too much.

Martin's picture

I agree with test as well, basically.
And I wonder about one thing, Peter, since when is this a column? I thought the press normally dont give their opinion in a news article.

I find the bad form of Dimitri Reinderman also something peculiar btw

Bert de Bruut's picture

Van Kampen should at least have teased Smeets by refusing the offer, playing another three moves and then make a draw offer himself!

Thomas's picture

@test (and Deep Mikey): If Sofia rules had applied, van Kampen and Smeets might have played the following spectacular "game":
1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.f4 Bg7 5.Nf3 c5 6.Bb5+ Bd7 7.e6 fe6: 8.Ng5 Bb5: 9.Ne6: Bd4:!! 10.Nd8: Bf2+ 11.Kd2 Be3+ 12.Ke1 Bf2+ etc. ... .
Spectacular for chess fans and sponsors, at least those who don't know that all this had been played before (Sax-Seirawan, Brussels 1988).

Remco Gerlich's description of "Tivigate" is correct ... .

Ludo Tolhuizen's picture

I agree with the observation that the chess federation and some players did not take the championship as seriously as they should (postponing a game in favour of a speed chess tournament, a 23-fold repetition of moves, absence at the opening due to work obligations...)
Rumour has it that it was on request of tsome players that the rounds started later on the playing days of the Dutch soccer team. If so, this imho shows insufficient devotion to our royal game and a dubious work ethics.
Having said this, I cannot deny that the Dutch federation showed some sense of humour by announcing the soccer games as side events of the national chess championship.

To end in a positive note: the round nine Haast-Lanchava game in the women section is very nice indeed (even if Anne missed some spectacular wins, as shown by Herman Grooten on the Dutch website

Tony's picture

Come on people the FIFA world cup match IS more important than any annual championship. We are talking about billion + people watching not just a few 1000 on the internet. Changing the time for something like this yes I can see that happening.

kees's picture

Organiser Stomphorst is also the captain of HSG Hilversum. A very strange situation.

test's picture

I agree with Tony. Soccer is more popular than chess, deal with it. In a lot of places the whole country almost comes to a standstill when the national team plays.

I don't see what the big deal is about starting the games a bit later. The alternative means everybody suffers: the players, the organizers and the spectators because everybody wants to see the national team play. Now everybody is happy. (Except some people on the internet apparently.)

test's picture

And I don't agree with the authors (or Hans Ree) that the players didn't take the tournament seriously enough. Rather: the authors (or Hans Ree) take it TOO seriously.

About chess making the newspaper when something out of the ordinary happens. The same is true for every other sport. Same in Soccer for example. Just look at the recent scandal with the French team. It's just that hugely popular sports like soccer dominate the media regardless of scandals and peculiarities, so it's not so obvious. How often does boxing make headlines? Everybody new about Tyson biting off his opponents ear though.

Hmm's picture

Smeets was part of Danailovs Team, so he must have learned this trick from the devil himself. Could we have an article about the sneaky dutch....... oh wait.

jussu's picture

It was not my country's championship, but since this story is here for me to read and comment, I take the liberty to state that I agree with pretty much everything said by "test". And regarding the three-move draw, well, I guess everyone who has sharp feelings about it can go and ask back all the money they paid for observing the game.

Patty43's picture

It wasn't my country's chapionship either, but since this is an open forum I must say I fully agree with the author and with Hans Ree. I think players and federations should be the first to take chess seriously, basically because, if they do not, nobody will.

Altering tournament timetables to avoid coincidence with a football match, however important is that match, doesn't seem to me very appropriate. Come on, it's not a weekend or a rapid tournament, it's a national championship!!! How do you explain that to a potential sponsor?

Regarding the three-move draw, it's very easy to say "it's a disgrace, I'd never do that" when you're not in that situation. I see it in all tournaments and not just for the first prize, but for rating sections prizes, or simply because "it's the last round, I'm tired..." Would you prefer Van Kampen and Smeets going on like Bf1 Ng8 Bb5 Nf6 for 13 moves? :-)

Karen's picture

It was not my country's championship, but since this story is here for me to read and comment, I take the liberty to state that I agree with pretty much everything said by "test". And regarding the three-move draw, well, I guess everyone who has sharp feelings about it can go and ask back all the money they paid for observing the game.

Johan's picture

Sadly the dutch championship has become a tournament in which hardly anybody is interested anymore. There are very few chess professionals in Holland. For this small group it is not very interesting mainly the conditions aren't that good. For those who have other professions it is very hard to fit in their normal working schedule. So let's be happy that there still is a dutch championship and not complain about minor things like the change of the starting times of two of the rounds.

More worrying is the absence of public interest. It seems that the location of the tournament is very important. I remember dutch championships with many spectators, high-level commentary and more press. Since the championship has left Leeuwarden as playing venue, things have gone downhill. Chessvibes could have played a role in promoting this tournament but unfortunately didn’t take this very seriously.

The comment about 'dubious work ethics' is really funny. Apart from the dubious reasoning behind this statement I hope it's written on a free day of mr Tolhuizen and not in his office. That would be really dubious work ethics!

Peter Doggers's picture

We did three articles and two videos. Many bigger tournaments get less attention here, so please look at it in the right proportions. Can't repeat it enough: ChessVibes is not for the Dutch chess scene, just because the editors are Dutch. We're covering international chess.

jmd85146's picture

I think chessvibes does a great job in providing interesting articles and reports from tournaments all over the world. Keep up the good work Peter and the others.

grtz from belgium

test's picture

I usually check, but lately have been lacking the time.
I just noticed they have that article by Hans Ree, to be recommended as always. Imho he's one of the best columnists around.
The only player where it can be argued that he didn't take it too seriously is Van Wely, but then again he got permission from the organizers; so who's really to blame here? See also the comment of Johan above.

There is one hilarious passage (at least I thought it was hilarious); hopefully it's ok to quote it here:

"A few rounds of normal chess followed and then in the seventh round there was the fainting incident.

Early during the game Giri-Nijboer, Giri noticed that there was blood on his hands and then he almost fainted with fright when it seemed that there was also blood from his ear.

Put horizontally with his head on a cushion Giri received medical attention and it turned out that he had only cut his finger at the sharp lid of a soft-drink bottle and then inadvertently touched his ear.

In the meantime a first-aid team had arrived. It was slightly misinformed and turned its attention to Nijboer, thinking that he was the man who had fainted or almost fainted.

Nijboer protested that there was nothing wrong with him, but the team insisted on a thorough check-up, just to be sure. It took some time before they realized that they had the wrong man. Then Giri and Nijboer found it wise to agree on an early draw."

René Olthof's picture

As is usual in the Netherlands, there is no entry fee to watch the Dutch national champonship on location as I did five time. And there was also free commentary by experts/IM's like Herman Grooten, Gert Ligterink and Hans Böhm.
Secondly, the complaint about the total prize fund being so low is a bit strange. When you compared it to virtually any other national championship in the world it's very high. I suppose only the US and France (and maybe Russia) have higher prizes.

JR's picture

In my opinion, rescheduling the playing times at football match days was a wise decision, not the least because of the fact that many potential spectators will very probably prefer to watch the football match. I guess the same applies to sponsor representatives, they will visit the tournament just another day. For example, 9.2 million out of 16 million Dutch inhabitants watched Holland - Japan.

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