The 4rd Remco Heite Chess Tournament took place in the hotel Van der Valk from November 16 to 18. It consisted of a 6-player round robin (McShane, Sokolov, Van Wely, Fridman, Sadler and Ernst), an open rapid tournament and a school chess event for children.
The tournament is named after Remco Heite, former mayor of the municipality of Weststellingwerf, of which Wolvega is a part. After his retirement as mayor in 2005, Heite received a highly original present: a biennial tournament with a horse for the winner. Loek van Wely won the first edition in 2006, followed by respectively Bartlomiej Macieja and Luke McShane in 2008 and 2010.
Traditionally, the players donate the horse to a local charity. Last edition's winner Luke McShane sent his horse to an organization called OlmenEs, in Appelscha, which offers therapy for mentally disabled adults.
Luke McShane donating his prize from two years ago to a local charity
Because of the time control of 1.45 hrs for 35 moves, followed by 15 minutes, the games of the main tournament are not reported to the FIDE. Maybe because of this, the tournament usually guarantees for some extra fighting spirit. This year the spectators were not disappointed.
The first round was quite successful for former winners Luke and Loek. McShane beat Sokolov in an exciting Scotch game. Sokolov reached a promising position after sacrificing an exchange, but the Englishman defended well, took over the initiative and eventually won the game.
Van Wely had some luck in time trouble against Fridman, who reported that he got confused by a series of unexpected moves.
In the second round Fridman beat Ernst, who was not able to profit from a strong possibility to decide the game in the opening:
Although Van Wely predicted a fierce clash against his long time rival Sokolov, the game ended in a short draw. Sadler won his game against countrymen McShane, which turned out to be their first encounter since 1999!
The players from the invitation group in action
As early as the third round, Van Wely grabbed the lead by a full point, after beating Sadler in a very strong game. Sipke Ernst completed the Holland-England match with a 2-0 score. The lowest rated player beat the highest rated player in a nice attacking game:
The fourth round ended peaceful with three draws, but Van Wely hardly could have been happy with the outcome of his own game, in which he was winning or a long time. Against McShane the game ended in a perpetual, while the Dutchman would have been ensured of clear first place with a win. Afterwards Van Wely said he suffered some chess blindness in mutual time trouble: while McShane was about to queen his pawn, Van Wely didn’t spot a mate, which could have been executed in several ways.
However, it seemed nothing would hinder Van Wely's tournament victory, when he only needed to draw in the final round with the white pieces against Sipke Ernst. After the opening Van Wely had a decent position, and he just had to develop one more piece. Instead, the flamboyant Dutchman took some risk, and paid the price:
Because of his win, Ernst and Van Wely tied for the first place. The two Dutchmen were joined by Daniel Fridman, who convincingly beat McShane in a Maróczy Bind.
So, three players and only one horse. Their mutual scores were equal, and so the chief arbiter decided that a blitz playoff would determine the tournament winner.
In this exciting final, the German champion proved to be the best blitz player: he beat Ernst and drew Van Wely, white Ernst beat Van Wely.
The open group was played in a two-day rapid chess championship, with grandmasters like L’Ami, Friso Nijboer, Erik Van den Doel and Alexandre Dgebuadze. After nine rounds it was Erwin L’Ami who ended clear first with 7.5 points, thus earning the rights to play in the main group next time. Wolvega proved once again to be a good city for the Dutch grandmaster, who also won the open tournament in 2008, and finished shared second in the main tournament two years ago. In this year’s tournament, L’Ami was the only one who beat one of the afore-mentioned grandmasters:
Erwin L'Ami drew his game with Black against Erik van den Doel
Alongside the invitation group various amateur events took place as well
The first prize: a horse!
The school event attracted many youngsters from Friesland (A northern province in the Netherlands)
and so are the players from the invitation group, accompanied on this photo by chief arbiter Geurt Gijssen (left)