Bad News for the Max Euwe Center

The Max Euwe Center is located in the heart of Amsterdam in Max Euwe Square. The Center was there first, since 1991, and the name of the square came later. In fact there was a small battle between the Center and one of its neighbors, the Amsterdam Casino, which would have liked to have seen the square named “Fortuna Square.” The chessplayers won, perhaps because this was a period when many Dutch politicians were fond of chess. As a bonus, the bridge adjacent to the square was named the Hein Donner Bridge after another Dutch grandmaster.

The casino bore no grudges and through the years it has received and sponsored many festive receptions at the Max Euwe Center. It still does, but lately only once a year, because of the economic recession. 

On May 29, the traditional semi-annual reception of the Center was held at its own modest premises. The mood cannot have been entirely festive as the day before, the news had come out that next year the Center will lose its entire subsidy from the city of Amsterdam, an amount of almost 30,000 euros which makes up a big part of its income.

On the battlefield of Dutch austerity policy, some cultural institutions have already succumbed, but the fact that the grief is shared does not diminish the pain. Through the years the Max Euwe Center has managed to house a small museum and a big library and organize chess events, all on a shoestring budget. The loss of the subsidy from the city could be a deadly blow to its existence. The cut still has to be approved by the city council, so some small hope remains.

For me the library was always the most important asset of the Center. Whenever I was writing an article, there was always the reassuring thought that if I had to check some things which could not be found in my own library or on the internet, the library of the Max Euwe Center was always within easy walking distance.

Every year the Max Euwe Center honors the Dutch chessplayer who, according to a jury of which I am a member, has been most notable in the preceding year. On May 29 it was announced that the player of the year 2014 was Anish Giri.

No surprise of course. Giri had already been player of the year in 2009, 2010 and 2011. Then the jury decided that a prize that might be going to the same player year in and year out might not be much fun and that Giri would have to wait until he did something that was not only exceptional for general Dutch standards, but also for his own high standards. The decision was made easier because in 2012 the Netherlands had a world champion in correspondence chess, Ron Langeveld. 

In 2014 Giri had risen in the world ranking list from nineteenth to seventh place. What more should he have to do to be named Dutch chessplayer of the year? Becoming world champion, a spoiled child would say. 

In earlier years Giri had not been able to accept his award personally, as the ceremony was held at the casino where minors were prohibited. This year he was absent for another reason; he was on his way to France for the French team competition. 

If 2014 was Giri’s annus mirabilis, the first half of 2015 saw a slight set-back. He lost some rating points, dropped to tenth place on the list of June 1 – not a fate worse than death – and in May, at the start of the Grand Prix tournament in Khanty-Mansiysk, he must have realized that he hadn’t won a game in the last three months. He hadn’t lost many games either, but in Khanty-Mansiysk he lost two. 

Then Giri got himself together and won two games. A simple game against Baadur Jobava, who is able to play beautiful and strong chess, but sometimes takes it too lightly, and a hard game against Evgeny Tomashevsky, which can be seen in the game viewer. 

The tournament in Khanty-Mansiysk must have been a great disappointment for Tomashevsky. At the start he was well-placed to qualify for the candidates’ tournament, but at the end he was out. This final tournament of the Grand Prix series was won by Dmitry Jakovenko, Fabiano Caruana and Hikaru Nakamura, and the two places in the candidates’ were for Caruana and Nakamura.

Click here to view the annotated game: 

Anish Giri-Evgeny Tomashevsky

Khanty-Mansiysk 2015