Malta vs Curaçao – a big step forward

by ChessBase
3/19/2006 – A week ago the islands Curaçao and Malta, separated by 8,600 km of ocean, played a chess match against each other (Curaçao also against the city of Utrecht in the Netherlands). The whole event was conducted on the Internet, using the Playchess server. Thus, say the organisers, begins an interesting new era in competitive chess.

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A big step forward: Internet match Malta vs Curaçao

By Ger Jan Meijer, Duncan Vella and Pascal Boittin

The geographical distance between Curaçao in the Caribbean and Malta in the Mediterranean is about 8,600 kilometers, and the distance between Curaçao and Utrecht is about 7,900 kilometers.

These matches are an initiative of the Right Move for a Bona FIDE campaign team. Right Move wants to establish an international team competition to liberate many countries from their sportive isolation. The plan is to play several demonstration and try-out matches in 2006, and to start in 2007 with an official competition.

The national team of Curaçao in action against Malta

Last Saturday was an important moment for the development of chess. Curaçao, Malta and Utrecht took the initiative to play Internet exhibition matches via Many countries, areas, cities and clubs have to deal with large distances and high travel expenses and are isolated from International and even national competition. It is obvious that this is a big frustration for the development and popularity of the noble game. Also interesting competitions will attract sponsors and stimulate the youth playing, studying and training more chess.

The program for Saturday was:

14h00- 18h00 (GST)

Curaçao – Malta (national teams)

8 boards, time control 60 minutes + 30 sec

18h00- 19h00

SC Janwe, Curaçao – SC Moira Domtoren, Utrecht (Youth teams)

8 boards, time control 25 minutes + 10 sec

19h00- 20h00

SC Nacho Moron, Curaçao – SC Hot Spirit, Utrecht (Rapid match 1)

8 boards, time control 25 minutes + 10 sec


SC Nacho Moron, Curaçao – SC Hot Spirit, Utrecht (Rapid match 2)

8 boards, time control 25 minutes + 10 sec

The venues

Curaçao took the decision to set up a sophisticated Cyberspace room in the Van der Valk Plaza Hotel for their matches. This Cyberspace room was equipped with several computers, webcam, Skype connection, beamers and projection screens.

The Sponsors of the Curaçao Cypberspace room

The local organizers Ger Jan Meijer, Klaas Dekker (photo left) and Fabio Mensing received broad support from the companies Scarlet for the wireless Internet connections and Citco and Keycomp for all the hardware. Also the Van der Valk Plaza Hotel contributed with giving the hall for free and all necessary technical support. Ernst & Young supported the event by sending a team of three auditors to monitor the compliance with the rules. In addition International Referee Alex Roose watched the match through his referee eyes. He is busy developing a set of rules for this kind of Internet competition.

Duncan Vella and Geoffrey Borg looked after the Maltese part of the organization, and they hosted the national team of Malta in the Visitor’s Lounge of Simonds Farsons Cisk plc, Malta’s largest Brewery. Mr. Patrick Mangion in Malta attended the match to monitor the compliance of the Malta team.

The Maltese team is ready to start. Geoffrey Borg gives the green light by phone.

 Pascal Boittin was leading the Utrecht part of the event. The players from the Dutch city played their matches in the Internet Café Telecorner. Martin Fischer of ChessBase gave support from his home in Germany.

The Utrecht teams playing at the Internet Café.

Curaçao versus Malta

Mrs. Emily de Jong- Elhage, the future Prime Minister of the Netherlands Antilles (her inauguration will be this month) led the official opening of the Curaçao- Malta match. She spoke via Skype and Webcam to the players in Malta. Mrs. De Jong is happy with this initiative and sees these kinds of sportive encounters as important to bring nations together.

Prime Minister Emily de Jong-Elhage speaking to Malta before the match

The event had a smooth start and it already became clear that both teams were about equally strong. After about one hour playing it was still difficult to make predictions about the outcome of the match.

After about two hours the match had a serious interruption, because the connection to the ChessBase server went down. It took about only ten minutes before we were on-line again, but it became a struggle to restore all the board and clock positions again. The restoring process could be successfully completed with the support of Martin Fischer. It was obvious that without his assistance the match could not have been continued. It is our feeling that the Playchess software needs still some upgrading in this area. Disconnection is a risk that will always be there. Restoring of the games (board position and clock) should be made a routine process to be done without professional support.

The match continued and the Curaçao players Marvin Dekker (board 1), Han Neumann (board 3) and Oscar Cuellar (board 4) won their games. Malta was successful with Colin Pace (board 2) and Mark Cardona (board 5). The other games were drawn and as a consequence Curaçao won the match with 4.5- 3.5.

Malta: clockwise starting from top left: David C. Vincenti,
Mark Cardona, Oliver Said and Horace Cassar.

The auditors of Ernst & Young Curaçao and the auditor in Malta did not consider their attendance as a routine job. They made several notes and comments, requested for the chatlog files between ChessBase, Curacao and Malta and are planning to issue a report of recommendations to improve the quality of these matches.

International Arbiter Alex Roose and Ernst & Young Curaçao monitoring the match.

Maltese auditor (Patrick Mangion) is checking the proceedings in Malta

Curaçao versus Utrecht

After the Malta match Curaçao switched immediately over to the Internet Café where Pascal Boittin was waiting to guide the Utrecht players through the three Rapid matches with Curaçao.

The first encounter was the match between the youth players of Chess Club Janwe (Curaçao) and Moira Domtoren (Utrecht). For the chess players of Janwe it was their first team match against another club. The youth players were looking forward to this match and many of them were disappointed that they were not selected for one of the eight available spots.

On board 1 there was an interesting confrontation between ABC (“Aruba-Bonaire-Curaçao”) youth champion Shardul Paricharak and the U12 champion of the Netherlands Hugo ten Hertog.

ABC Youth champion Shardul Paricharak 

The match looked to become a walk- over for the Moira Domtoren team. In little time they were already leading with 3-0. Stefan ten Hertog (board 3), Daan Schoenberger (board 4) and Peter Brugman (board 8) won their games easily.

Paulo Meijer (board7 and 7-year-old son of the author of this article) brought the first point for his team on the scoreboard. Probably his win gave some power to his team mates. His friend Kiran Kanhai (board 6) scored the second win for the Caribbean island.

Paulo Meijer scored the first point for Chess Club Janwe

On board 1 Hugo ten Hertog took clear advantage after the opening. His opponent Paricharak did everything to balance the game, but ten Hertog gave no chance for it. The match between the two youth champions ended in favor of the U12 champion of the Netherlands.

In the meantime Wouter le Fevre scored the fifth win for Utrecht, while Marvin Sambo brought another point for Curaçao. The matched ended in a 5-3 win for Utrecht.

After the youth matches it was time for an encounter between Chess Club Nacho Moron (Curaçao) and the Hot Spirit Team (Utrecht). Both teams played two Rapid matches against each other. The results were:


CC Nacho Moron

Hot Spirit

Match 1

Match 2


Marvin Dekker

Evert van Heel




Jurriaan de Haan

Simon Kronemeijer




Han Neumann/ Tito Winklaar 

Ger Hageman




Oscar Cuellar

Jan Jaap Janse




Fabio Mensing

Ernst van der Vecht




Alex Roose

Mart Renders




Nicolas Vasquez

Chris Lutz




Thijs van Steveninck

Menno Visser







The Internet matches were a great experience for all the chess players involved. This is certainly the solution for isolated countries, areas and clubs to play team competitions, but also for all chess teams who like to compete with teams from all over the world. The Internet gives chess unique possibilities that other sports do not have.

The playchess system and software need some improvements, especially for restoring games after disconnection, to support all aspects of this kind of team competition. The chess players in Curaçao, Malta and Utrecht are interested to play several other matches this year. Curaçao and Urecht are especially interested in countries and clubs who can also come with one or more youth teams. Interested teams can contact them on

Chess organizer Ger Jan Meijer (Curaçao) is an advisor of the Right Move Campaign and he has taken the first initiatives for setting up these matches. Duncan Vella is organizing the Maltese part of the match. He is the Vice President of the Malta Chess Federation and has played in a number of Olympiads representing his country. Pascal Boittin organized the Utrecht part of the event. In addition he organizes the monthly Hot Spirit tournaments in Utrecht.

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