The first weekendThe first weekend was full of unexpected results. For example, in the first round, Gerard Nederveen 2d won against Michiel Eijkhout 5d. Alexander Eerbeek 5d defeated the highest ranked player Rob van Zeijst 7d. Merlijn Kuin 6d, who last year was invincible, lost both of his games on Sunday. Only one player remained undefeated, Frank Janssen 5d. Frank is well-known and respected because of his enormous contribution to Dutch and European go communities. He has been involved in the earlier stages of the European Go Cultural Centre and developed a lot of material for teaching. In 1989 he won the Dutch Championship for the first time, and in 2006 he became the champion for the fourth time in his life. Since then his best result was finishing third.
Although Frank defeated Gilles van Eeden 6d and Alexander in the first weekend, he still had many strong opponents to face, namely Rob, Merlijn and Geert Groenen 6d. This meant an exciting second half of the tournament, which took place at the Hubspot in Leiden, a cosy entrepreneurial centre. EuroGoTV was also there and documented the top games (the game records are attached at the end of the article).
The second weekendOn Saturday morning, Frank and Robert Rehm 5d started their game with a taisha, a specific corner sequence known for its complexity and a fair amount of variations. The one that appeared on the board led to a ko. As it was the beginning of the game, and thus there were no ko threats, Frank just captured the black stones and gained a big corner. In return, Robert could build a large framework. This beginning seemed to give Frank a comfortable start and in the end he won this game by resignation.
Meanwhile, Merlijn, Geert and Rob all won their fifth games. In the following round, Frank played as black against Rob. A special moment in this game was how, with his 70th move, Rob just barely managed to live with his group, after a complicated 20-move sequence. Frank won this game by resignation as well. At the end of the day, Alexander, Michiel, Merlijn, Geert and Rob had four points each, and the organizers still speculated that if Frank lost both of his games on Sunday, a playoff between four players could become possible. Everyone looked forward to the next day’s play.
On Sunday morning, Frank played against Geert. Although, according to the European Go Database each player won 10 games out of the 20 that they played against each other in the past twenty years, one Dutch player said that Geert has a slightly better record against Frank. The game started peacefully and the players played the first moves relatively quickly. Geert went for solid territory, while Frank built some strength. It seemed to be a close game, but it appeared that Geert did not think he could win, as he resigned in the end-game.
The most spectacular gameAfter this victory, Frank was already a champion. This meant that in his next game, he could take it easy, as his opponent Merlijn would have more at stake. This game was very spectacular as both players are confident with knowing complicated variations. Merlijn started with a 3-4 point, to which Frank immediately approached at 6-3. A few moves later they played a taisha variation, which seemed to be better for Merlijn. In the middle game both players fought very sharply. A curious development in that game was when Frank played a nose tesuji (move 146), which cut one of the black groups away and forced Merlijn to capture some white stones. At the same time, it prepared for Frank a strong attack on Merlijn’s group. He immediately played at its vital point, the byo-yomi started and suddenly Merlijn was in trouble. He seemed to have misread due to byo-yomi, and what could become a ko, was simply dead.
Nonetheless, Frank and Merlijn continued the game until the very end. When they finished counting (White+32,5) and shook hands, a small crowd that had surrounded their table gave them a big round of applause (full game record available at the end of this article).
The ladiesOn the second weekend the Dutch Female Go Championship took place, the coziest and friendliest tournament in the Netherlands, which is open to all go-playing ladies who are Dutch or who have lived in the Netherlands for at least two years, regardless of their strength. This year it featured eight participants. Marika Dubiel 2d came from abroad to defend her title. Two of her strongest opponents (Annemarie de Putter 2k and Tamara Havik 3k) were not there, but some other ones were ready for the battle: Karen Pleit 2k, Marianne Diederen 2k, Els Buntsma 3k, Yvonne Roelofs 4k, Anne Boelens 4k and Nicole de Beer 6k. There was also a new participant in the championship, Justyna Kleczar 2k.
The players played three games on Saturday and two on Sunday. After Saturday, only Marika was undefeated, but Justyna, Marianne and Karen had two points each, so anything could still happen. The following morning, Marika won against Karen, while Justyna defeated Marianne. That meant that Marika had four points, Justyna three, and it would be an interesting final: If Justyna wins, it would mean a playoff between the two of them. Justyna and Marika know each other for years, and they share similar experiences. They both grew up in Poland, where they learned to play go around the age of 17. They have lived abroad and have settled in the Netherlands. Before the fifth round they joked that the final of Dutch Female Go Championship is played between two Polish girls.
Justyna had a sharp beginning, and used her strength well to attack Marika’s group. She then invaded Marika’s corner, where both players killed and resurrected her living group. Or, as Michiel Tel described it later during a commentary: “You lived here, then you were dead, then you lived again in sente, and you took gote.” In the middle game, Marika has managed to take some of the biggest points on the board, but towards the end Justyna played a nice end-game sequence, which threatened the life of Marika’s group. The local result was a ko, which Marika won at a cost of another group. After having failed to live with that one under time pressure, Marika resigned (full game record available at the end of this article).
The outcome(s)The Dutch Female Championship ended with a literally odd result: shared 1st, 3rd, 5th and 7th places. Karen and Marianne shared the third place. Justyna and Marika are going to play a best-of-three playoff later this year to determine who gets to call herself the Dutch Female Go Champion 2017.
The podium of Dutch Championship was also full of people. Frank won the first place, Alexander finished second, and all the players ranked higher than 5 dan shared the third place: Merlijn, Gilles, Geert and Rob. During the prize-giving, when Frank received his price the spectators urged him to give a speech. He seemed really touched, and he said that he had not expected to win any more. Later, he joked that he won at least once in each decade starting with the 1980s (so this one was his fourth one). To sum up, this year’s Dutch championships, especially Frank's and Justyna's results, showed that go transcends all the barriers, and neither nationality nor age nor your current strength can stop you from being great at it.
The photos used in this article were provided by Rudi Verhagen, Ronald Verhagen, Herman Hiddema and Nicole de Beer. Thank you!
Full results are available at Dutch Go Association's site
For more photos see EuroGoTV (Day 3 and Day 4) and Herman's gallery
The game records: