A postcard from Wijk aan Zee

It’s the second weekend of the world’s most popular chess tournament and the great winner here in Wijk aan Zee is for the time being Grandmaster Winter. I have been staying here in various capacities (player, journalist, trainer, organizer and problemist) for almost 20 years and what seemed at the start of this year’s edition as a nearly spring-like weather has turned into one of the toughest winters the village by the see has witnessed for years. Outside white is clearly dominant as the snow grows thicker and yet inside the crowded venue of De Moriaan it’s fire on board with black often having the upper hand.


Last Wednesday, on the first free day in the grandmasters group, the traditional simultaneous exhibition against schoolchildren from the region took part in the large pavilion especially erected in the village centre for the special events. As in the last five years or so I was once again part of an International team of masters who faced the enthusiastic kids in both morning and afternoon shifts. All masters emerged unbeaten however kids who showed a decent level and fighting spirit were offered a draw and were invited to the stage to be applauded and receive a special diploma signed by the maestro. As in all previous years I was challenged for revenge by the same elementary school from the city of Heemskerk. After the match I was treated by many parents to souvenir photos with their personal prodigies hoping to meet on the chequered board next year too.
Last Friday numerous 10 players all-play-all tournament started with the main traditional incentive to qualify to a higher group next year. A number of my own students from the past and in present time as well as many chessfriends are among the participants. I have met them all over the place and wished them lots of success.
The daily mate in two challengers, run by me for the last ten years, gain popularity and hundreds of solvers from all over the world give them a try. Even grandmasters are captivated by their charm, especially of the following tricky one:

Give it a go! The solution as well as other challengers may be found on www.tatasteelchess.com

Numerous solutions have been received online to my special endgame study challenge with a lot of favouring responses. It is heart warming to see so many chess lovers exposed to the magic of chess composition. Next weekend, parallel to the last rounds, two International solving events are to be held with the attendance of world class solvers such as GMs Piotr Murdzia, John Nunn, Oleg Pervakov and Dolf Wissmann among others. Past winners IMs Twan Burg and David Klein will be the main absentees due to their participation in the grandmaster group C. The entire participants list of the fourth studies solving contest may be seen here:
There are still a couple of free places available!
Last but not least: It’s high time for the chess shops to increase sales on their book stalls in De Moriaan. My own co-authored books are present too: The award winner Invisible Chess Moves (with Emmanuel Neiman) alongside with the three Dutch volumes (together with Hans Böhm) “De Pion”, “De Toren”and the newborn “Het Paard”.    

Posted: January 20 - 2013


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