Reports | January 04, 2010 6:38

13-year-old Nyzhnyk wins Groningen Open; Timman beats Van Kampen 2.5-1.5

Nyzhnyk wins in GroningenThis year's Groningen Chess Festival saw a sensational victory of 13-year-old Ilya Nyzhnyk (Ukraine), who finished clear first, a full point ahead of GMs Reinderman and Werle. In the match between a former Junior Champion and the reigning Junior Champion, Jan Timman beat Robin van Kampen 2.5-1.5. Big, pictorial and video report.

The Groningen Chess Festival took place December 18-30 in Groningen, The Netherlands. There were several open tournaments; in the top group a total of 64 players participated (13 GMs, 13 IMs and 11 FMs). Besides, this year's festival included a match between GM Jan Timman, Dutch Junior Champion in 1966 when he was 14 years old, and Robin van Kampen, who won the Junior Championship this year, at the same age.

Video report

Before continuing with the pictorial report, I'll first give the video report below. The organizers tell about their tournament and also about its long tradition; the video includes footage from the 1946 tournament in Groningen!

The Timman-Van Kampen match was quite exciting and attracted a lot of attention from the participants in the open groups. The board was nicely placed in the centre of the venue, with a Christmas tree and a demonstration board behind the players.

Timman-Van Kampen

The Timman-Van Kampen match

The match started smoothly for Timman, who exchanged queens in game 1 for a better ending which he won easily. In a difficult, queenless middlegame Timman was the first to err in game 2 and after many more complications, Van Kampen managed to level the score.

In the same Slav variation as in the first game, Van Kampen turned up much better prepared for game 3. He had looked at the line together with Anish Giri and many other young Dutch talents, who all stayed together in 'hotel ship' De Mars, a boat located in the city center. The game was drawn after 32 moves.

Groningen Chess Festival

The boat where the Dutch talents stayed

Game 4 was again very interesting; in a Kan Sicilian Timman invited his young opponent to sacrifice his queen and Van Kampen accepted the invitation. Soon Timman had to give back his own queen, but also in the ending the position remained sharp. When Van Kampen missed his last chance (30.b4) the game and the match was over; Timman had won 2.5-1.5.

Timman-Van Kampen match 2009 | Results
Timman-Van Kampen

In the Open group Dimitri Reinderman was leading with 4 out of 4 during the rest day (Christmas Day). In the next round the Dutch grandmaster dropped his first half point, to 13-year-old IM Ilya Nyzhnyk. This was the turning point in the tournament.

In round 6, Reinderman and Giri drew quickly, and so did Greenfeld and Werle on board 2 and Nijboer and Swinkels on 3. Nyzhnyk beat Ernst with the black pieces and the next round the Ukrainian super-talent defeated Chadaev. While his rivals prevented each other from winning the tournament, Nyzhnyk finished strongly with a draw against Werle and a last-round win against Deviatkin. Sipke Ernst, quite a strong grandmaster himself, said about Nyznyk: "He was just playing with us. I haven't seen this since Carlsen crushed everyone in Corus C."


Nyzhnyk, next to his mother, just after he beat Chadaev in round 7

Winning in Groningen undefeated with 7.5/9 and a 2741 performance rating is an amazing result for a 13-year-old. It was Nyzhnyk's second grandmaster norm - his first was scored already in April 2008 when he won the Nabokov Memorial in Kyiv, Ukraine. At the moment of writing Nyzhnyk is 13 years, 3 months and 7 days old and so chances are high he'll become the youngest grandmaster in the world somewhere in 2010.

Groningen Open 2009 | Final Standings (top 40)

No. Name                Score WP   SB     PS    rat.  TPR  W-We
 1. Nyzhnyk, Illya      7.5  48.5  40.00  38.0  2494 2741 +2.75
 2. Werle, Jan          6.5  53.0  36.75  35.5  2565 2670 +1.28
    Reinderman, Dimitri 6.5  52.0  36.75  37.5  2575 2662 +1.11
 4. Chadaev, Nikolai    6.0  50.0  30.00  32.0  2567 2555 -0.03
    Greenfeld, Alon     6.0  48.5  31.00  32.0  2559 2571 +0.23
    Nijboer, Friso      6.0  47.0  29.50  32.5  2561 2545 -0.12
    Brandenburg, Daan   6.0  46.5  30.75  32.0  2481 2573 +1.22
    Baklan, Vladimir    6.0  46.5  30.75  30.0  2655 2549 -1.04
    Giri, Anish         6.0  45.5  29.00  32.0  2585 2582 +0.04
    Deviatkin, Andrei   6.0  45.0  28.00  29.0  2608 2503 -0.82
    Poetsch, Hagen      6.0  36.5  23.75  26.5  2361 2410 +0.70
12. Ernst, Sipke        5.5  46.0  26.50  26.5  2587 2432 -1.55
    Meijers, Viesturs   5.5  46.0  26.00  28.5  2488 2456 -0.29
    Kleijn, Christov    5.5  46.0  25.50  28.0  2383 2461 +0.99
    Pruijssers, Roeland 5.5  44.5  24.75  26.5  2413 2434 +0.35
    Saravanan, V        5.5  44.0  24.75  29.5  2356 2499 +1.78
    Podzielny,Karl-Heinz5.5  42.0  21.50  28.0  2456 2425 -0.18
    Hoffmann, Michael   5.5  40.5  23.25  27.0  2509 2365 -1.47
    Caspi, Israel       5.5  40.0  20.75  26.0  2423 2402 -0.09
20. Swinkels, Robin     5.0  47.5  25.25  31.5  2500 2484 -0.16
    Bok, Benjamin       5.0  47.0  23.50  29.0  2337 2523 +2.14
    Kantans, Toms       5.0  43.5  20.75  24.5  2281 2486 +2.30
    Popilski, Gil       5.0  42.5  20.00  26.0  2441 2394 -0.49
    Pijpers, Arthur     5.0  42.5  18.75  23.0  2201 2366 +1.86
    Wiel van der, John  5.0  41.0  21.50  25.0  2475 2373 -1.10
    Berkovich, Mark A   5.0  37.5  17.50  23.5  2406 2283 -1.30
    Groenewold,Jan Joris5.0  36.0  18.00  18.5  2145 2313 +1.96
28. Grover, Sahaj       4.5  43.5  18.75  26.0  2372 2429 +0.72
    Heemskerk, Wim      4.5  40.5  17.50  21.5  2236 2320 +0.94
    Klein, David        4.5  40.5  16.75  21.5  2262 2364 +1.14
    Bijlsma, Nick       4.5  39.5  17.50  20.0  2075 2255 +1.98
    Afek, Yochanan      4.5  39.5  16.75  21.5  2285 2330 +0.39
    Hoeksema, Erik      4.5  38.0  17.00  22.5  2331 2233 -1.14
    Paulet, Iozefina    4.5  37.5  12.00  20.0  2312 2217 -1.07
    Haast, Anne         4.5  33.5  14.25  19.0  2251 2229 -0.34
36. Burg, Twan          4.0  48.5  21.00  25.5  2460 2340 -1.34
    Genova, Lyubka      4.0  45.0  19.50  21.0  2263 2317 +0.57
    Genov, Petar        4.0  44.5  17.75  26.5  2476 2299 -1.98
    Piasetski, Leon     4.0  39.0  14.75  18.5  2269 2238 -0.48
    Donker, Roel        4.0  38.0  16.50  20.5  2140 2259 +1.13

Timman-Van Kampen & all of Nyzhnyk's games for replay

Game viewer by ChessTempo

Groningen Chess Festival

The famous 'Martini Tower', at the central square in Groningen

Groningen Chess Festival

The venue was the University's Sports Centre

Groningen Chess Festival

GM Jan Timman, former world's number 2

Groningen Chess Festival

IM Robin van Kampen, one of the biggest Dutch talents at the moment

Groningen Chess Festival

Two old friends sharing thoughts about a position: Jan Timman and Hans Böhm

Groningen Chess Festival

Local hero GM Jan Werle, a regular guest at the sports centre, finished shared second...

Groningen Chess Festival

...together with GM Dimitri Reinderman from Amsterdam

Groningen Chess Festival

Good years or bad years, Friso Nijboer always plays in Groningen

Groningen Chess Festival

Anish Giri enjoyed it last year and was happy to return

Groningen Chess Festival

But 13-year-old Ilya Nyzhnyk was the strongest - we'll hear much more about this young lad - but first a bit of history...

Groningen Chess Festival

...because photos from the 1946 event were hanging at the venue - here an overview of the playing hall back then

Groningen Chess Festival

The participants in order of the final standings (if one of our readers can put them in the right order of this photo, let us know!): Botvinnik, Euwe, Smyslov, Najdorf, Szabo, Boleslavsky, Flohr, Lundin, Stoltz, Denker, Kotov, Tartakower, Kottnauer, Yanovsky, Bernstein, Guimard, Vidmar, Steiner, O'Kelly de Galway, Christoffel

Groningen Chess Festival

Boleslavsky, Euwe and Smyslov

Groningen Chess Festival

Smyslov vs Botvinnik, who would play three World Championship matches - Stolz and Yanovsky are watching

Groningen Chess Festival

L-R Najdorf, Guimard and Steiner

Groningen Chess Festival

Tartakower (standing) and Vidmar


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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.


ebutaljib's picture

OK, here is my third try (I already posted twice yesterday, but somehow both my posts got lost)

1946 Groningen

Smyslov, O'Kelly, Boleslavsky, Steiner, Botvinnik, Kotov, Szabo, Kottnauer, Denker, Lundin, Stoltz, Cristoffel, Kmoch

Najdorf, Flohr, Euwe, Vidmar, Bernstein, Tartakower, Guimard, Yanofsky

Henk's picture

I think Adolf Hitlers brother was there too, standing 4th from the left.

Raymo's picture

Great report as ever. Love the old photos. A 2741 performance from a 13 year old! Gulp. If Giri had put up such a score it would still be amazing!

unknown's picture
Arne Moll's picture

Are you sure that's Tartakower talking to Vidmar and not Lex Jongsma?

unknown's picture

3rd picture from the past: Smylov => Smyslov

Thomas's picture

My detailed knowledge of chess history doesn't go far beyond my own lifetime, but it seems that Groningen 1946 was comparable with Corus A these days. Leaving dress code aside (color pictures didn't exist at the time, but it seems there was no need either? :) ):
- How do the events compare with regard to average age of the players?
- How important was physical fitness in top-level chess at the time??

ebutaljib's picture

3rd time is the charm :)

vaughn's picture

this kid is tremendous.i see that he plays the sicilian.can't wait to see a sicilian between him and carlsen in like 5 years from now.

Kazzak's picture

Went to dril's site and had a look. He's had quite a development recently - from placing quite modestly in Ukrainian and Russian tournaments against older players to suddenly moving aside grandmasters. Amazing - with a little more maturity, he's probably going to be wiping the field.

His games in Groeningen speak of a tremendous control over the position, while creating chances. Admirable.

Scott Young's picture

Great report and little IIya is fantastic!!


chess's picture

I would say Dawid Janowski was stronger player than Yanowsky. or?
in CA there some games from yanowsky named falsely as d. janowski.

funny, you write right Smislof or Smyslov?

vooruitgang's picture

Thank you , thank you, thank you so much for the report and excellent video. THe best one you have made to date. I cannot waint until Corus!

Henk Schmitz's picture

Mooie foto's van Groningen 1946!
Betreft de vierde foto:
'Stoltz and Yanofsky are watching the game between Botwinnik and Smyslov.' Yanofsky zit echter aan de volgende tafel naast zijn naambordje te schaken tegen Flohr!
Het lijken me Stoltz (rechts) en links misschien Szabo(?).

Wim's picture

Great report and nice pics. I love reports out of the old box!

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