A Remarkable Chess Family

After Jorden van Foreest had won his third game of the Dutch Championship, bringing his score to 3 out of 3, he said in the press room, “I think they are underestimating me after I blundered three pieces in Vlissingen.”

It was indeed true that shortly before at the Hogeschool Zeeland Tournament in Vlissingen he had blundered a piece in three games. But it was probably not true that his opponents underestimated the young grandmaster.

Though only 17 years old, a debutant to the championship and in fact a reserve who could only take part because his former coach Sergei Tiviakov had retired from it, he was the third in rating of the eight participants, after seven-time champion Loek van Wely and Erwin l‘Ami. He had made his mark in many opens, such as in July in the French town Vaujany, which he had won with the impressive score of 8 out of 9.

Living in Groningen, Jorden is a member of a remarkable chess family. His four brothers and one sister all play chess and have already accomplished quite a lot. His brother Lucas (15) has scored both an IM norm and a GM norm and his sister Machteld, who became nine years old on August 22, won the U-10 championship for Dutch girls at the age of 6 and nowadays plays for both a Dutch and a German club. Intimations of Polgar 2.0, but this time there are six of these kids.

And apart from the living, there are also two deceased Van Foreests who are part of the chess family. Around 1900, Jorden’s great-great-grandfather Jonkheer Arnold van Foreest was three times Dutch champion and so was Arnold’s brother Jonkheer Dirk. “Jonkheer” means that the family is part of the Dutch nobility.

By the way, Arnold van Foreest plays a part in a well-known anecdote in which Jacques Mieses stars. In 1949, in The Hague, after Mieses (84 at the time) had won an exhibition game against Arnold (86), he caused much hilarity with the classic remark: “Youth has triumphed!”

On Sunday August 28, the day of the last round, Jorden’s parents and all his siblings had come from Groningen to the Museum of the Tropics in Amsterdam, where the championship was played, for moral support. The situation was tense.

The day before Jorden and Loek van Wely had met in what can be called the game of the tournament. Van Wely needed a win badly to overtake Jorden, who himself would be well-served with a draw, which would keep him a half-point ahead of Van Wely.

Normally Jorden van Foreest is a creative and aggressive player, but against Van Wely the unaccustomed idea that a draw would suit him fine seemed to paralyze his play. As White he was clearly worse after 10 moves and it was obvious that for the rest of the game he wouldn’t be able to undertake any positive action. He would have to wait. 

Doing nothing, but doing it well, is an art of which few youngsters are capable. In the course of the game there were many ways for Van Foreest to lose the game, but he kept his cool and saved the draw before the gates of hell.

In the final round, he regained his active style. Both he and Van Wely won their games. Jorden van Foreest was the new Dutch champion.

Dutch fans would like to see the young hero play for the Netherlands in the Olympiad, but as the Dutch team for Baku had been selected well in advance, they’ll have to wait till 2018 for that.

Click here to see his win over Erwin l’Ami from the first round.