Groningen Chess Festival

by Alejandro Ramirez
12/31/2014 – The traditional Groningen Chess Festival in the Netherlands has concluded its 52nd edition. The festival included lectures, trivia, several open sections and matches. The International Open was demolished by Donchenko with a brutal 8.0/9 and a 2803 performance rating. Oh, and he made a grandmaster norm! Despite his 2500+ rating the young winner of the event is not yet a GM!

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The 52nd edition of the Groningen Chess Festival took place from December 21st to December 30th of this year. Hundreds of players attended this traditional event in Groningen, dubbed the North Capital of the Netherlands.

This year marked the University of Groningen's 400th anniversary! To h ighlight the centennium festivities the Chess Festival up to 80 university students were given free accommodation at the University of Groningen.

The festival included three big open sections, divided by rating categories, as well as "compact" tournament that was only five rounds long. The A Open or International Section was the big attraction of the event. Also interesting were the matches between the 2013 European Youth Champion u14 Jorden van Foreest and experienced grandmaster Dimitri Reinderman, as well as the female competition between Dutch Women's Champion Anne Haast and German IM Elizabeth Paehtz.


The match between Van Foreest and Reinderman was relatively close. Even though Reinderman had already clinched the match by round five with a score of 3.5-1.5, Van Foreest was able to strike one final blow in the sixth game to lose the match by the minimum difference.

Dmitri Reinderman is the World's strongest
purple haired player by exactly 255 FIDE points

Replay Van Foreest-Reinderman match

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The match between the ladies was not a close one. Paehtz went on a crushing streak starting on round two and won three games in a row. After that mathematically the match was already over, but Haast was at least able to obtain a nice moral victory in the last round.

Elizabeth Paethz with a crushing performance against...

The Dutch Women's Champion: Anne Haast

Replay Paehtz-Haast match

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The open section was absolutely demolished by Alexander Donchenko. The German International Master peformed a massive 2803 TPR and won the tournament with 8.0/9.

The massacre started with Donchenko going 3-0 against relatively low-rated opposition. Then he crushed Brandenburg by trapping his opponent's knight in the middle of the board in a King's Indian Defense. Things only got better as Bok refused a repetition against him in round six, only to lose the game at the end.

After drawing l'Ami and Ipatov he finished his successful tournament with wins against Raznikov and Alsina Leal.

Second place was a tie between Bok and Ipatov. The two young players scored 7.0/9, but the tiebreakers favored Bok. The list of player that finished with 6.5/9 had some really big names in it: Andriasian, l'Ami, Rakhmanov and Baghdasaryan all tied for fourth.

Ioana Gelip, using her unique but typical
thinking pose, traveled from Romania to participate in the event

Hampshire Hotel, where many players were staying

A commemorative statue in middle of the playing hall!
The winner received a small replica.

Globetrotter and grandmaster Aleksandr Rakhmanov

Can't play a tournament without style

One of the top seeds: Erwin l'Ami

Third place went to Turkish GM Alexander Ipatov

The best woman prize in the open went to Irina Bulmaga, also from Romania

Another of the powerhouses: GM Zaven Andriasian from Armenia

Sipke Ernst (right) had a rough event

Nothing quite says "dutch chess" as a post-mortem
with beer at the bar while soccer plays in the background

The winner circle: Donchenko, Bok and Ipatov

Happy as a clam: Donchenko not only won a tournament, he made a GM Norm!
That's right, despite his massive strength the German player still is an International Master.

Final Standings

Rank Name Score Fed. Rating TPR W-We
1 IM Donchenko, Alexander 8.0 GER 2523 2803 +2.77
2 GM Bok, Benjamin 7.0 NED 2572 2686 +1.34
3 GM Ipatov, Alexander 7.0 TUR 2599 2651 +0.67
4 GM Andriasian, Zaven 6.5 ARM 2609 2653 +0.69
5 GM L'Ami, Erwin 6.5 NED 2613 2610 +0.14
6 GM Rakhmanov, Aleksandr 6.5 RUS 2647 2607 -0.19
7 IM Baghdasaryan, Vahe 6.5 ARM 2368 2620 +2.98
8 IM Raznikov, Danny 6.0 ISR 2494 2598 +1.36
9 GM Alsina Leal, Daniel 6.0 ESP 2540 2553 +0.30
10 GM Tiviakov, Sergei 6.0 NED 2677 2592 -0.82
11 GM Ma, Qun 6.0 CHN 2621 2553 -0.64
12 IM Nakar, Eylon 6.0 ISR 2419 2463 +0.60
13 IM Svane, Rasmus 6.0 GER 2507 2540 +0.51
14 FM Kerigan, Demre 6.0 TUR 2277 2523 +2.94
15 IM Biolek, Richard Jr. 6.0 CZE 2446 2470 +0.35
16 IM Wan, Yunguo 6.0 CHN 2482 2496 +0.30
17 IM Hovhannisyan, Mher 6.0 BEL 2511 2477 -0.17
18 Klekowski, Maciej 6.0 POL 2418 2500 +1.03
19 GM Dobrov, Vladimir 6.0 RUS 2495 2437 -0.54
20 IM Azaladze, Shota 5.5 GEO 2499 2492 +0.10

Replay Open Games

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Yochanan Afek, chess player and chess composer extraordinaire

The festival also had many side events, including lectures, analysis by grandmasters, trivia and much more. The legendary Yochanan Afek provided some mindblogging puzzles that you can see here, at the official website.

The coziness of a festival like Groningen is hard to beat. It's a festival that not only brings great chess players to the event, but one that really encompasses the warmth and friendliness of a big festival.

A festival would not be complete without a big chess shop selling the best of the best

Information from the official website, Photographs provided by Peng Zhaoqin and Bart Beijer


The games will be broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 12 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.

Grandmaster Alejandro Ramirez has been playing tournament chess since 1998. His accomplishments include qualifying for the 2004 and 2013 World Cups as well as playing for Costa Rica in the 2002, 2004 and 2008 Olympiads. He currently has a rating of 2583 and is author of a number of popular and critically acclaimed ChessBase-DVDs.


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