Chess in Amsterdam and Haarlem

by ChessBase
9/4/2007 – With any chess tournament, there is always the question of what to do on those days when you are not playing. Unless you are a dedicated soul, who spends the whole of the rest day analysing, you will want to find some ways to relax. Steve Giddins, an expert on the subject (of relaxing) takes us to the beautiful city of Haarlem, where the BDO tournament was held. A chess tourist's guide.

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BDO Tournament in Amsterdam

By Steve Giddins

As a devotee of attending chess tournaments without playing in them, I regard myself as being of at least 2700 strength – when it comes to relaxing. And Amsterdam has always been my favourite chess city, ever since my very first visit some 20 years ago. So, here is my guide to how you may wish to spend a spare day or two in Amsterdam, the next time you are here for a chess tournament.

Escape to the country

One thing you can do is leave Amsterdam altogether for a day, and visit a tournament elsewhere in the country. This August, you would have been spoiled for choice, since in addition to the Euwe Stimulans tournament in Arnhem, you could also pop to the beautiful city of Haarlem, about 20 minutes by train from Amsterdam. There, you would have found the small, but perfectly-formed BDO tournament. In its third year, the event has already grown from an IM into a GM tournament, thanks to the sponsorship of leading accountancy firm BDO, and the local municipal government. There was further good news at the opening ceremony, when BDO confirmed that they intend to continue their sponsorship for at least three more years.

Final standings after nine rounds

Grote Markt, the main square in Haarlem

One particularly charming feature of the tournament was the playing hall. Located in the Ambassador Hotel in the centre of Haarlem, the room is decorated on the theme of ancient Egypt.

The Egyptian-themed playing hall in Haarlem

Think like an Egyptian – Karel van der Weide and Roeland Pruijssers, under the watchful eye of Tutankhamun

The tournament was won in dominating style by Alexander Berelovich, whose unbeaten 7.5 out of 9 brought him not only outright first place, two points clear of the field, but also a gain of ten rating points.

Alexander Berelovich, who dominated the tournament

However, the best game of the event was played by Hungarian GM, Attilla Czebe, who produced a fine positional queen sacrifice against Robert Ris

Ris,Robert - Czebe,Attilla [C54]
BDO Premier Toernooi 2007 Haarlem (4)
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.c3 Nf6 5.d3 d6 6.0–0 0–0 7.Bb3 a6 8.Nbd2 Ba7 9.Nc4 Ne7 10.Bg5 Ng6 11.Nh4 Kh8 12.a4 h6 13.Nxg6+ fxg6 14.Be3 Nh5 15.d4 Nf4 16.f3 Qg5 17.Qd2 Bh3 18.Rf2 b5 19.Na3 Bd7 20.axb5 axb5 21.Nc2 Bb6 22.Rd1 Nh3+ 23.Kf1

23...Nxf2 24.Bxg5 Nxe4 25.Qe2 Nxg5 26.h4 Ne6 27.g3 Rae8 28.Bxe6 Bxe6 29.Qxb5 Rxf3+ 30.Ke2 Ref8 31.Rg1 exd4 32.Nxd4 Bxd4 33.cxd4 Rb3 34.Qa4 Rxb2+ 35.Ke3 Bd5 36.Qd1 Rf3+ 37.Qxf3 Rb3+ 0–1

Attilla Czebe, whose positional queen sacrifice was the game of the event.

In addition to the main event, a second 10-player all-play-all Challengers tournament was held alongside. This was won by Jeffrey van Vliet, who thereby earns an invitation to the main event next year.

13-year old David Klein, the youngest player in the Challengers tournament, scored a creditable 3.5 / 9

Relaxing in the big city

If you prefer to relax in Amsterdam itself, you can of course join the queues at the well-known tourist sites, such as the Rijksmuseum, van Gogh Museum, Anne Frank House, etc. If you have suffered a particularly vexing defeat in the tournament, you could also visit the Mediaeval Torture Museum, and spend some time fantasising about what you'd like to do to your opponent, using the various grisly devices on show. However, if you are looking for something less crowded, and more chess-related, you can head down to the Leidseplein area, and visit the nearby Max Euwe Plein. Here, you can take on the local chess enthusiasts on the open-air board, located on the square.

Open air chess on the Max Euwe Plein

Watching over you with a critical eye, as you play, is a statue of Doctor Euwe himself - at least, that what it proclaims itself to be! I guess they call it modern art...

No, it doesn't look much like Euwe to me, either...

Directly above the chessboard is the office where the Max Euwe Centre is located. This splendid museum and extensive chess library is a Mecca for chess historians from all over the world. The same building has recently been occupied by Global Chess, the new organisation headed by Bessel Kok, which will search for sponsors for the world championship.

Whilst you are at the Max Euwe Plein, you should not miss an amusing architectural detail. As has often been pointed out, from one side of the square, you can enter via the Hein Donner footbridge.

The Hein Donner bridge - for a true chess lover, surely the only appropriate way to enter Max Euwe Plein?

However, what I have never seen anyone point out is that if you exit the Max Euwe Square on the other side, you find yourself facing the Cafe de Prins - nothing to do with Lodewijk Prins, of course, but wonderfully appropriate, all the same.

What you see if you exit on the other side of Max Euwe Plein

Thus, in the finest traditions of Dutch chess, you have Donner on one side, Prins on the other, and the good Dr Euwe in the middle, keeping the two arch-enemies apart!

After your visit to Max Euwe Plein, you will probably be in need of some refreshment. Naturally, Amsterdam caters for every variety of food and drink, and you may just enjoy a relaxing cool drink at one of the numerous beautiful canal-side cafes.

A typical canal-side cafe scene

On the food front, cheese is of course a Dutch speciality, and you will find some highly impressive selections in the shops.

An Amsterdam cheese shop. Judging by the quantity of "fermented curd" on offer, this one is not run by the Monty Python team...

However, for this correspondent, there is nothing in Amsterdam to compare with the specialist beer cafes, many offering a staggeringly wide choice of different beers. One of the best of all is the famous Cafe Gollem, located just five minutes' walk from the Krasnapolsky Hotel, where the NH tournament is taking place. This small "brown" cafe offers a choice of around 200 different beers, mostly Belgian, and attracts beer tourists from all around the world.

A beer lover's heaven - a small selection of the 200-odd different beers available at Cafe Gollem

Once you have sampled some beers in Gollem, you will probably want to buy a few bottles to take home. This can be accomplished by walking just five metres across the alley from Gollem, and entering de Gekraakte Ketel (The Cracked Kettle) beer shop, whose amply stocked shelves will ensure that your arms get stretched, carrying all those irresistible bottles home.

he amply-stocked shelves of The Cracked Kettle beer shop

And by the time you have played all those open-air chess games, eaten all that cheese, and drunk all that beer, it will probably be time to get to bed and rest up before the next round....

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