It’s a feeling that everyone probably knows, that happiness had been around the corner, where you had just passed by, noting nothing special. I had it long ago when once I skipped a weekly jazz concert where I had almost always been in the audience, and shortly afterwards I heard that just that night, the great drummer god Art Blakey had descended from heaven and played along with the local musicians, and I had the feeling again a few weeks ago after the final round of the club competition of the Dutch Chess Federation. I had missed the pinnacle of the season.
I had not participated that day, because I had booked my vacation at a time when I thought that I wouldn’t be needed. My club, Caissa of Amsterdam, was not in danger of being relegated to a lower class and on the other hand, promotion to the top section, called the Masters, was too improbable to take into account seriously.
But then came a series of miracles. Our team had been trailing several teams both in match points and board points. In two subsequent rounds, the team equaled the score in match points, but before the last round the difference in board points with the two leading teams was still considerable. Then came the last miracle. In the final round, my team beat Rotterdam – once a great force headed by Viktor Kortchnoi and sponsored by Joop van Oosterom – by the unbelievable score of 9-1, just enough for us to be promoted to the Masters section.
Almost immediately I received a picture of our players grinning wide in the courtyard of the playing hall. Without me, how terrible! I was in Paris that day. Never before had I experienced the sentiment that Paris was not the place where I wanted to be.
But then I imagined that I would have taken part in the match and that I would have ruined it for my team with a loss. That would have been even worse, and in a way the thought was a small consolation.
I should not pretend that Caissa’s miracle was the most important thing that happened on that last day of the Dutch team competition. In the Master’s section, it had already been decided in April that, just as in the previous season, the club championship of the Netherlands would go to the old and venerable Leidsch Schaakgenootschap (Leyden Chess Society), but for others there was still a lot at stake.
After that last round it became clear that Max Warmerdam (19) from the Southern province Limburg and Roger Meng (22) from Rotterdam had fulfilled a GM norm. Especially for Warmerdam, 2019 has been a good year, as in January he had qualified for next year’s Tata Steel Challengers group. This will be a hard test, but as I read in a newspaper interview that he spends easily 40 hours per week on chess, he may be up to it by that time.
In the game viewer I present a game that Warmerdam played as a 16-year old boy in the second round of the club competition of 2016/2017. It shows strategic insight and a chess patience that is usually associated with mature adults. After every round of the club competition, my colleague IM Herman Grooten and I award a small prize for the most beautiful game of the round. That time the prize went to Warmerdam.
Click here to view Warmerdam-Lahaye, Dutch League 2016/17