Dutch blitz chess marathon

2/16/2003 – Once a year there is a Blitz Chess Marathon in Dordrecht, Holland. There is place for 200 participants, but since many top grandmasters are present you have to be there in time to secure a place. Which means getting up at 6 a.m. and driving for two hours, especially if you are a lowly 1400 player, fulfilling a wager with your brother. Jeroen van den Belt reports.

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Dutch Blitz Chess Marathon

For many years my brother has asked me to participate in the Dutch Blitz Chess Marathon. Two obstacles prevented to fullfill his request. First you have to be very quick as soon as you can send in your request. Within a few hours all 200 seats have been taken. Secondly, a more physical obstacle is distance: the marathon is held in Dordrecht, which means more than two hours drive from my home.

Finally on Februar 15, 2003 I managed to wake up at six a.m., do the necessary things you have to do in the morning, put myself into the car and head for the Mercure Hotel in Dordrecht. Roads were almost empty, of course, since every normal Dutch person is sleeping at this time. I was one of the first participants to arrive.


This is how the emtpy playing hall looked, with 100 free tables.


One hour later, everybody arrived, waiting for the moment to press the clock the first time.


Did I mention that there were quite a lot of well-known players going for the first prize? That's Jan Timman on the left in this picture.

The tournament was held according to the Swiss system, and with my low rating (I estimate myself about 1400) I had to play somebody with about 2000 in my first game. With a high heartbeat, I managed to reach a draw. I was very optimistic for the rest of the tournament.


My biggest challenge was to get more points then my brother (above)

The tournament was very well organized. At each table there was a referee who immediately asked for the score after a game was finished.


When everybody was ready, the software calculated the next rounds.


Tension around board one, where Timman os playing Piket


While the other tables can play in peace

The tournament was held for 17 double rounds. Sometimes I managed to get a higher board number then my brother, sometime we were sitting next to each other. Then came the last round. Everybody felt exhausted and was waiting for the next parings. And the computer decided I had to play against my brother. I lost 2-0 and will have to hear it for the rest of my life. Now I feel obliged to play next year again. I wanted that anyway because this is a unique event.

Jeroen van den Belt

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