Lucas van Foreest surprises as new Dutch Champ

by André Schulz
7/11/2019 – The 18-year-old grandmaster Lucas van Foreest was the unexpected winner of the Dutch Championship defeating none other than his big brother Jorden in a tiebreak. After seven rounds in Amsterdam, the brothers had each had 5.0 points. Lucas won one of the two blitz games and drew the other. Their little sister Machteld van Foreest did well in the Women's Championship making it a true family affair, but WGM Iozefina Paulet earned the Women's Champ title with 6.0/7. | Photo: Harry Gielen

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The van Foreests face off!

National championships have been held in the Netherlands officially since 1909, although the tradition stretches back as far as the 1870s! Max Euwe was the pre-eminent pre-war player and held the title twelve times. Then, other familiar names like Jan Timman and Loek van Wely were the dominant players. Fanny Heemskerk was the star female competitor from the 1930s to the 1950s, and more recently GM Peng Zhaoquin won a total of 14 titles and all championships between 2000 and 2011. In 2018, she won the title again, after four consecutive wins by WGM Anne Haast from 2014-2017.

With Anish Giri, Dutch chess has an absolute world-class player, currently number four in the FIDE world rankings, and his last Dutch Championship was in 2015 (his fourth win). This year, even if he wanted to, he was busy in the lucrative Grand Chess Tour tournament in Zagreb. His absence has allowed both seasoned veterans and an even younger crop of players to shine. Jorden van Foreest took the 2016 Championship, setting a record as the youngest player to do so, and he was the number two seed this year. Van Wely won his eighth title in 2017 and Sergei Tiviakov for the third time in 2018.

The 2019 championships ("Deloitte NK Schaken") were held in Amsterdam from July 1st to 7th as round-robin tournaments with eight players each.

Playing hall

Tournament hall

In an historic first, you could find the van Foreest name three times in the starting lists. In addition to Jorden, his younger brother Lucas made his debut in the championship. Their sister Machthild van Foreest participated in the women's tournament.

The van Foreests come from a long line of chess players. Their great-great-grandfather Arnold and his brother Dirk van Foreest won three of the early unofficial championships between 1885 and 1902. 

Nine-time winner Jan Timman launches the second round | Photo: Harry Gielen

Jorden van Foreest started well. A first round draw against his brother Lucas was anything but perfunctory — they played to bare kings in 65 moves — but he followed up with victories over Jan Werle and Ivan Sokolov and leads the field after three rounds, followed by Benjamin Bok and his brother Lucas, who each have 2 points on the account.

His game against Ivan Sokolov was a wild tactical battle.


Here Jorden went "All in" and kept up the pressure right to the end.

20.xg7! xg7 21.h5+ g6 22.g3+ g5 (22...♚xh5 23.♗d1+) 23.f4 (23.h4 was also good) 23...exf4 24.xf4+ h7 25.e5+ f5 26.f2 (26.♗d3!?)


26...e7? (Better was 26...♜e8 27.♘h5 ♝xc2 28.♕xc2+ ♚h8 29.♗xg5 ♜xe5 30.♖xe5 ♝xe5 31.♖e1 ♛e6 32.♗h4. White has a bit of an advantage but is by no means winning.)

27.e6? (Stronger was 27.h4, for example: 27...♝xc2 28.♕xc2+ ♚h8 29.hxg5 ♝xg5 30.e6 followed by c4 and ♗b2.]

27...fxe6!? (It was very important here to play 27...♝xc2 28.♕xc2+ ♚h8 29.exf7 ♜xf7 30.♗e3 White certainly has enough compensation for the piece, but not more.)

28.h4 Kh8 (The alternative was interesting: 28...♞f7!? with wild complications, e.g.: 29.♖xe6 ♞d6 30.g4 ♝e4 31.♖xe4 ♛xg4+ 32.♕g2 ♛xg2+ 33.♔xg2 ♞xe4 34.♗xe4+).

29.hxg5 xg5 30.c4 xc2 Gradually, White has won the upper hand.

IM Merijn van Delft covered this game among his Game of the Week highlights:

The live show is free to watch, and available on-demand for ChessBase Premium accounts, but free for a limited time

Jorden went to beat Erwin l'Ami, who was under the weather during much of the tournament, in round five and finished round seven as the only undefeated player.

Lucas van Foreest came into the tournament as the bottom seed, albeit only 112 Elo points separated him from l'Ami. He dropped a game early on to Sergei Tiviakov, but battled back with three consecutive wins, and was just a half point behind his brother. In round six, he missed a big chance against l'Ami in the early middlegame:


This position arose out of a Nimzo-Indian Rubinstein variation in which van Foreest unusually swung his queen from d8-d5-h5-b5. But here he reacted naturally by moving it once more 15...a5?, overlooking the shot 15...♝xh2+! 16.♔xh2 ♛xf1 when White has nothing for the exchange and pawn deficit.

Instead, after a bunch of exchanges on d5, a balanced position with a symmetrical pawn structure made a draw the likely outcome.

In the last round, still a half point behind, Lucas could assume he had to win, with his brother playing white against Tiviakov. Jorden had put some pressure in his white game against last year's champion, but Tiviakov's defence was exemplary:


van Foreest vs Tiviakov

Sergey Tiviakov knew how to control the attack of his opponent

Lucas got his opening after his opponent was too passive some critical situations. IM Merijn van Delft and Game of the Week special guest IM Alex Wohl went through this key game on this week's show:


Ultimately Erik van den Doel got mated

So, the brothers van Foreest ended up tied with 5.0/7 apiece and had to contest a blitz tiebreak!

Final standings after Round 7


The first game was drawn in 31 moves, with neither side getting chances. That gave Jorden the white pieces in the return game. A sharp Richter-Rauzer Sicilian came on the board. Jorden won a pawn and was having all the fun in the middlegame until he blundered a piece:


With 22...b8 Black skewered the bishop and knight and White's queenside pawns were small consolation as Lucas smoothly demonstrated. The young underdog will have bragging rights in the family for a while!

Tiebreak games


All games


Paulet takes Women's Championship

The Dutch women's championship was won by WGM Iozefina Paulet who gave up just two draws en route to a stellar 6.0/7 score. Machteld van Foreest, the soon-to-be-12-year-old sister of Lucas and Jorden, was in a three-way tie for third place after winning her last round game against WIM Rosa Ratsma, the runner-up.

Rosa Ratsma and Machteld van Foreest

Machteld van Foreest beat WIM Rosa Ratsma with the black pieces

Paulet showed impressive determination as she ground down Anna-Maja Kazarian in a queen and minor piece ending for a clutch penultimate round victory.


Not a position you expect to win with either colour

Usually this material balance favours the player with the knight, but from this position Paulet just pressed and pressed until she won Black's a-pawn on move 63, the b-pawn on move 76 and, with her own h-pawn, she levered open holes in her opponent's kingside structure until it broke.


A clear program to fight the Panov Attack

The Panov Attack might well be White's most unpleasant weapon against the Caro-Kann because compared to other Caro-Kann lines it usually leads to entirely different positional patterns. Therefore Black should know precisely how to react and where to put his pieces.

Final standings


All games


Translation from German and additional reporting: Macauley Peterson

Klaus Besenthal contributed reporting


André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.


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