Good play, good performances, great luck

It has been a while since I wrote my last blog post. In the meantime I did play two tournaments, one at the end of May and one in June. Things went pretty well and although my play was at times a bit uneven, the performances gave me confidence for the upcoming chess summer. In Ghent I won the Flemish Championships and in Hilversum I became second in the HSG Open, raising my rating to 2442.

The first tournament was the Flemish Championship, which was played in Ghent. I have lived in Ghent for five years when I was attending university there and I look back on those years with great pleasure. Playing in the Flemish Championship as a Dutchman is a bit strange, of course. However, this tournament is open to all players who are member of a Flemish chess club and since I represent the chess club of Bruges for more than 20 years, I was eligible to play.

Since, I was the top seed, my tournament victory without any losses might not be a huge surprise, but things could have been different. My opponents did not make the most of their chances, to put it mildly.

Round 2: Arno Sterck (2245) – Koen Leenhouts (2416)

If Arno would have played 46. Nf5, I might have resigned as I am completely helpless. He played 46.Qb8+ and although my position was still lost, I managed to hang in and earn a drawn in the end.

Round 4: Sim Maerevoet (2405) – Koen Leenhouts (2416)

Sim was the second seed and he was on a streak of more than 40 games without a loss. In our game he showed good preparation and after the opening I had a poor position, due to my queen being misplaced on h6. If Sim would have played 23.Qe3! to prepare 24.Rac1 with control over the c-file he would have given me a tough time. As it went, after 23.Qa3 I managed to turn the tables eventually.

Round 6: Emile Boucquet (2252) – Koen Leenhouts (2416)

Against Emile the opening did not go as planned and I am worse. If White plays 19.h4! I would have had to show good defending skills, as White is ready to go h5 and put pressure on my king, since it is difficult for me to organise my pieces in the defence. Emile tried to put pressure with 19.g4, but that was not so dangerous. I took over, then Emile defended well to reach a drawn endgame, until he blundered.

Round 7: Koen Leenhouts (2416) – Sterre Dauw (2321)

In the final round I was facing talented youngster Sterre Dauw who showed creative chess. He managed to outplay me quite convincingly and here it was time for him to reap the fruits of his strong play by simply going 26…Qxg2! and my king and rooks have to stay on the first rank, not well coordinated. Sterre played 26…Qxc3 and after 27.Kf2 he was still better, but maybe had enough since he quickly agreed to a draw.

It is clear that luck was on my side, but I also managed to play some good games, especially with the white pieces. My best game probably was against Adriaan Dreelinck, where I had the chance to execute a cute mating idea

Round 5: Koen Leenhouts (2416) – Adriaan Dreelinck (2068)

Many moves win, but the most elegant way to finish was 22.Qb8+! Kxb8 23.Rd8 mate

My plan was to play the week after Ghent in Maastricht, but illness prevented me from doing so and instead I played in the middle of June in the HSG Open. This tournament was played over three days (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) with two games each day. As Friday was a normal working day for me, I had to take a half-point bye for round 1, and as driving on Friday afternoon did not go very smoothly I was quite tired when I arrived just in time for round 2. Fortunately, I won that game in the end, not without difficulties though.

In round 2 I played a lower rated player from Ukraine who did put up a lot of resistance. My desperate attempts to win the game, almost backfired as in the end I went way too far and I only could escape because my opponent was relieved to get a draw after this tense game. That meant that I had 2 out of 3 and in a tournament with only 6 rounds chances to play for first place had already almost evaporated. In the remaining three games I played quite well and I won all three of them, ending on 5 out of 6 in second place.

 

It seems as I am in decent shape for the upcoming tournament in the summer. I will play three of them:

August 6-13 HZ Toernooi in Vlissingen, The Netherlands 

August 13-19 Bruges Masters in Bruges, Belgium 

August 26-September 1