Wijk in the Winter

1/20/2004 – A trip to the Corus Wijk aan Zee tournament is something you don't want to miss – even if it is winter and you have to brave rain and gale-force winds. You are rewarded for your enterprising spirit by meeting a lot of interesting people and seeing a lot of interesting games. Here is our first picture report from the Super-GM in Wijk.

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Corus Wijk aan Zee 2004 – Pictorial report 1

A trip to Wijk from a northern German city is usually a snappy four-hour drive. Basically you head for Amsterdam, circle south around Holland's most famous city, drive past Haarlem, head for the seaside resorts, till you hit Beverwijk and then Wijk aan Zee itself.

Of course the joy of a trip to catch a round of one of the most prestigeous tournaments in the world is somewhat, well dampened, if it is accompanied by rain, rain, and yet more cold, drizzly rain.

Just getting the equipment into the car in Hamburg, in pouring rain, makes you wonder why you don't just watch the games over the Internet. And after a few hours of driving you realize that when God created this part of the world He was still learning the ropes. Later on, when He started working on Italy, Spain, and of course California, He became really good at it. "In north-west Europe," spake He, "shall live worms and slugs. In the Pretty Places shall reside mankind." Unfortunately some of us ignored His intentions and ended up living in the parts He had made in His freshman year.

It is better you ignore the previous paragraph. It is the lamentations of someone from this part of the world during his annual winter crisis. But honestly: what else can you do when the welcome to the Corus Chess Tournament in Wijk aan Zee looks like the above picture.

The hotel in which the top players reside is called Zeeduin (pronounced zay-down) and is located just a few dozen yards from the sea. In summer it is lovely, to be sure, but when gale-force winds sweep around it young ladies, like Peter Leko's wife Sophie, must be careful not to be lifted off the ground (Sophie told us that this had actually happened to her when she went out on a shopping tour).

You know how serious things are when you see the hallowed Coca Cola flag is being ripped to shreds in front of your eyes.


There it is, the sea and the beach, blissful in summer, storm-driven in winter.


But there is a strange beauty in the icy waves lashing the shores in Wijk.


Very few people (like none) are seen in the open-air cafés in the city


This is where the tournament is held


Wijk is small. Normally you walk to the tournament. Some come by car, some use more romantic forms of transportation.


The playing hall, with the giant Open in the front, and the GM groups in a cordoned-off area in the back


A view from the other side of the hall, with spectators watching the Super-GMs


In the press room people can watch the games on computer monitors

Grandmaster group A


This is Evgeny Bareev not exactly enjoying a game of chess


Viktor (a.k.a. Viorel) Bologan, the winner of Dortmund 2003


One really cool dude: Peter Svidler, now number four in the world


Holland's chess legend Jan Timman


Armenian GM Vladimir Akopian, 32 years old, 2700 Elo strong


Everybody's favourite Vishy Anand (India, number three in the world)


Holland's top player Loek ("don't mess with me") van Wely


Alexei ("which piece should I sacrifice today") Shirov


Classical chess world champion Vladimir Kramnik


Just a super nice guy: China's second best player Zhang Zhong

Grandmaster group B


In the Grandmaster B we find Julio Ernesto Granda-Zuniga, 36, Peru, Elo 2581, surely the world's strongest chess player with Indio blood in his veins


Germany's most talented GM, 18-year-old Arkadij Naidtsch, also playing in the Grandmaster B


Did we say Anand? Nope, Antoaneta Stefanova of Bulgaria is everyone's favourite

Coming soon to a web site close to you: the players's wives, grandmasters at play, journalists, and much, much more...


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