A superb team of dedicated, hardworking organizers led by Dirk Flamée really did extremely well to run the 36th International Open Chess Tournament of Geraardsbergen across five locations from August 8-12 to cater for 214 players who were happy and grateful for getting to take part in a wonderful over-the-board, in-person competition, overcoming the many extra challenges of managing this in these difficult Corona times.
For very many people, this highly memorable event was their first return to chess after a necessarily long time-gap due to the global situation.
Lots of keen and talented young players performed magnificently, and special congratulations must go to Dutch FIDE Master Onno Elgersma who, though still only a teenager, won the tournament impressively with 6 wins, 3 draws and no losses, thereby amassing a score of 7.5/9.
Among the older players (like myself!), Dutch International Master Herman Grooten did particularly well to equal Onno’s score of 7.5 points and finish 2nd on tie-break. (Though I don’t personally know Herman’s son, Tommy Grooten, I would still like to add sincere congratulations to young Tommy on scoring five points and winning a prize for being a high-achieving youth-player.)
One of the other titled players in the field was IM Geert Van Der Stricht, a great friend whom I have known for around 25 years already. He nearly always plays very fine chess indeed, and I would like to wish Geert lots of enjoyment and success in the Belgian Championships which start in Brugge today.
Most of the year round, I dedicate a large part of my time to teaching Mathematics. In Belgium, I have been doing that in schools (and sometimes with families) since 2005 and, in the sixteen-year period from then until now, I have only actually played a total of five chess tournaments: one in 2005, one in 2009, one in 2013, one in 2017, and then in Geraardsbergen now in 2021. So, though I did prepare intensively at home for a whole month before going to Geraardsbergen, I certainly still have more to do in order to try to produce my best. On this occasion, I am truly happy and grateful for having had a lovely time with lots of friendly people at the tournament. I also particularly thank my opponents Frans, Johannes, Koen, Simon, Oleg, Bob, Jordy, Joris and Rick for nine terrific battles over the chessboard! Given everything that has happened, I am content with 4 wins and 5 draws (6.5/9), and the valuable lessons learned from all the games.
I am delighted to now post several nice photos which all hold good memories of this time in Geraardsbergen.
Well, congratulations for getting Stefaan SIX (rather than Stefaan Twelve) !! 😊
It’s good and healthy to laugh a lot, and so here’s a wee joke based on something amusing that Johan Devriese said to me… Why are the chess players in country B generally stronger than the ones in country A !?
It’s because country B has longer winters, and what else would you do throughout wintertime than study chess of course!!
I would like to now conclude this article by saying a big “THANK YOU” again to Dirk Flamée and his entire team of organisers, arbiters and other really good people who made the 36th Geraardsbergen Open such a special event. I look forward to seeing you again, and in the meantime I wish everyone a wonderful, happy weekend now.
God bless you all, and enjoy solving the beautiful chess puzzle shown in the final photo here.
With kindest wishes as always,
Paul Motwani xxx