David Smerdon | November 16, 2011 20:56

Chess for fun

Ah, now this is the way chess should be.

On Saturday I was recruited to play in the annual regional blitz championships, playing board one for Utrecht.  The event is basically a grudge match among the best of the Netherlands league teams from the union, and the day contains plenty of well-meaning ribbing and a chance to play for a year’s worth of bragging rights.

And the Dutch, naturally, really know how to enjoy their club chess.  The tournament was held in the Utrecht chess building – yes you heard me, a chess BUILDING – that is shaped like a rook and is entirely decked out with chess-themed ornaments, artistry and decorations (even in the bar – yes, naturally, there is a built-in bar).

What an entrance!

The crowd begins to gather, under the watchful eyes of the Rook


Before the day had even reached noon, many of the jovial competitors were playing one-handed, with beer in the other.  Even in the tensest of blitz finishes, with seconds left on the clock, these amateurs (but, I would argue, professional booze-blitzers) wouldn’t spill a drop on their way to emphatic (and very audible) victories.  It’s a wonder they didn’t scare the cows – yes, the venue was surrounded by picturesque Dutch farmlands, complete with stereotypically dappled cows and the greenest grass an Australian has ever laid eyes upon.  With a very untypical sunny sky to boot, I’d have to say it was close to the perfect setting for a blitz tournament (even if less than half the Dutch sledging registered in my mind after translation).

After leading with six wins (and myself on six out of six) after the first six rounds, my team crumbled to finish third (largely due to my collapse, with 1/3 for my tail run).  The winning club was spearheaded by one of the country’s brightest chess talents, joint-European Junior Champion.  I tried my best to trick the cheeky whippersnapper (am I really that old now that I can use such phrases?), but in the end, I probably was even luckier than he to escape with the draw…

PGN string

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David Smerdon's picture
Author: David Smerdon

David Smerdon is a chess grandmaster from Brisbane, Australia. David attended Anglican Church Grammar School and Melbourne University. To qualify for the title of Grandmaster, a player must achieve three Grandmaster norm performances, and a FIDE Elo rating over 2500. Late in 2007, Smerdon achieved his third and final Grandmaster norm. In the July 2009 FIDE rating list his rating passed 2500, so he qualified for the title of Grandmaster. He is the fourth Australian to become a Grandmaster, after Ian Rogers, Darryl Johansen and Zhao Zong-Yuan. In 2009, Smerdon won the Queenstown Chess Classic tournament.

Source: Wikipedia




Justin's picture

nice blog

Richard Vedder's picture

Nice blog indeed! But the tournament was not held in Utrecht!

Bert's picture

It was in Bunschoten-Spakenburg, better known as the Elista of (the province) Utrecht.

sledge (third-person singular simple present sledges, present participle sledging, simple past and past participle sledged)
1.(originally cricket, originally Australian) to verbally insult or abuse an opponent in order to distract them (considered unsportsmanlike).  

Hm, isn't it an advantage not to understand what's being shouted?

alexy1's picture

mehhhh, I wish I was there.. my team didn't play tho :(

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