International Checkers is seen as a sport. For me it is just a hobby, but others take it very seriously. The mindset is on competition and that means championships. Now as I am writing the World Championship International Checkers is being held in Emmen, NL from November 8th to 26th 2015. 20 Players from all over the world had to play one game against each of the 19 opponents.
Coincidently I was in Emmen, NL a few months ago in the beautiful province of Drenthe . The town itself is pretty mediocre or less, but in the area they've got some beautiful hunebeds over there, as you can read here.
For those interested they can follow the tournament and see the results here.
I have put my cards on Roel Boomstra, who became European Champion outplaying all the Russians. Hopefully the World Cup comes here after 30 years of Russian domination. How ridiculous it may sound, doping had been a serious issue in International Checkers and with the recent events of the Ruskies playing foul ....
I am seriously thinking to take the more than 4 hour train ride and pay the tournament a visit. Next time it is maybe in Mongolia or Senegal, so it is a once in a lifetime opportunity for me.
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The First Half of the Tournament
Nowadays with the internet at hand all 10 matches everyday can be watched live from your couch. And when I come home at 17:00 I am still able to watch the endgames, which fascinates me the most. And as traditional at this high level of play the number of draws is high. 86% of all games so far ended in a 1-1.
The matches can be watched live here.
It is no secret that I have a problematic relationship with Russia, but I am impressed by Alexander Georgievs play. Beautiful endgames and he is persistant. He is the current World Champion and if he wins this tournament, I would have no problem with that. Another delight had been the russian and many times World Champion Alexey Chizhov, who even learnt the Dutch language to read Dutch International Checkers literature.
Less amused I was with my countryfellow the 22-year old Roel Boomstra who played a quick and bloodless match against the Ukranian Artem Ivanov last Friday. "Another resting day for him" was a cynic comment.
I know from personal experience how exhausting a game of International Checkers can be. Last Saturday I had been involved in a game on the provincial championships. It lasted 4 hours and in the afternoon I had to play another one, in which I failed due to fatigue. I am not used to play very long games, however they can be the most interesting. You really can go deep!
The big suprise was the 17-year old Jan Groenendijk who is now in the second position. This is promising for the future! Of his peer in age the formula 1 racer Max Verstappen, newspaper pages has been written full in delight. To Jan no letter had been printed so far. Anyway the level of publicity for the event is utter low. A few lines in the paper and a note on teletext of the Drenths regional broadcasting service, is all I have seen so far. Perhaps that will change if a Dutchman becomes the new World Champion.
Then I will be able to poke a few eyes, because the Dutch national football/soccer team where unable to qualify for the European Championships. I can't wait for the day! Till then I had to create my own news.
Results after 10 Rounds1.
Wouter Sipma13 points
20 men are taking part of the World Championships and each had to play a single game against the other 19. The full list can be watched here. It is expected that exhaustion will take its toll in the coming second half of the tournament. It will last till Wednesday November 26th. Can't wait for the day ...
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17-year old Jan Groenendijk from The Netherlands takes the lead position. If he is able to maintain it the remaining 7 rounds, we will have a Dutch World Champion after more than 30 years. He has the same amount of points as the Russian Alexander Georgiev, but Jan has scored more victories. The scores in the top are pretty close, so everything can happen the coming week.
Jan won his game today with white. I still have to find out, why this is a win for him. Black is to move!
Results after 12 Rounds1.
Ncho Noel Atse16 points
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SolutionSpoiler (click to reveal)
1. ... 34-40
He had to because of whites 22-44.
2. 32-27 40-45
3. 22-50 19-23
A black 6-11 will be answered with 50x6; 45-50; 21-17; 50x11;6x19.
A black 23-28 will be answered with 50x17; 45-50; 21-16; 50x11;16x7.
4. ... 23-29
A white 21-16 will also lead to a win with 6-11; 16x7; 29-33; 50x6; 45-50; 7-1; 50-45; 6-50.
5. ... 29-34
6. 41-36 34-40
7. 36-31 40-44
8. 50x17 45-50
9. 21-16 50x11
8. 50x17 6-11
9. 17x6 45-50
Results after 19 Rounds - The Final
After 17 rounds Georgiev was two points ahead of Groenendijk and Boomstra. So I gave up all hope for my two young countrymen. However the 18th round there were all draws apart from Groenendijk and Boomstra, who both one. Thus they were both behind one point. It had to happen in the final round. Well ... it didn't. Georgiev and Boomstra draw early, but Groenendijk had a chance with two kings and two pieces against one king and three pieces. I was eager for a long and exiting endgame, but then the 17-year old Groenendijk overlooked a combination and the game ended in a quick draw.
Of the 190 games played 142 ended in a draw, which is a rate of 75%.1.
Roel Boomstra25 points
I congratulate Alexander Georgiev with his 8th title World Champion International Checkers. This means no highly needed media attention for my hobby or sport. And I comfort myself with the thought, that there will be another opportunity in two years.
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