Dutch Championships 2017: Two stars. Ten winners. Many surprises.
By Marika Dubiel | News | 01.02.2017 10:37 | Views: 5831 | Comments: 5
The Dutch Championship is usually played over the final two weekends of January in the European Go Cultural Centre in Amstelveen. The qualified players battle over 8 rounds for the title and the right to represent the Netherlands at the World Amateur Go Championships.
1st weekend at EGCC
The first weekend (The EGCC in Amstelveen). In front Jord de Jong 1d (left) plays against René Aaij 4d.

The first weekend

The 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.
The champions
The Dutch champions during the first weekend. Clockwise from top left: Rob van Zeijst 7d, Gilles van Eeden 6d, Geert Groenen 6d, Alexander Eerbeek5d, Merlijn Kuin 6d, Frank Janssen 5d, Robert Rehm 5d and Max Rebattu, 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 2nd weekend at Hubspot
The second weekend (Hubspot in Leiden)

The second weekend

On 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.
Frank versus Rob
Frank Janssen (left) versus Rob van Zeijst (right)
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 game

After 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.
Spectacular game Frank versus Merlijn
Merlijn (left) and Frank (right) were surrounded by many players.
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 ladies

On 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.
Dutch Female Championship
Warm atmosphere during the Female Championships.
Front: Karen (left) and Anne (right). Back: Marika (left) and Marianne (right)
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.
Female Championship
Front: Justyna (left) playing with Marianne (right). Back: Anne (left) versus Els (right)
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).
Marika (left) and Justyna (right) playing the final game

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.
3rd place
Not one, but ten handshakes. From left to right: Han Ellenbroek (The President of The Dutch Go Association) and the winners Geert Groenen, Gilles van Eeden, Rob van Zeijst and Merlijn Kuin.
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).
Frank Janssen Dutch Champion
Frank Janssen, the champion, was undefeated this year.
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:

NK-Dames Marika Dubiel vs Justyna Kleczar

Download Sgf-File
Dutch Championships 2017: Two stars. Ten winners. Many surprises.
01.02.2017 13:43
Nice overview of the tournament, thanks! One omission: the photo of Dutch top players is not just a collection of top players: all of them were Dutch Champion at some point in tome. The eighth player (bottom left in the picture) that you don't name is Max Rebattu, also former Dutch Champion.
01.02.2017 14:41
An addition to Nicole's comment: He's 5d, as is Robert (the capture of the picture states that he is 4d instead).
Great report, nice read!
02.02.2017 13:34
Goed stukkie, leuk!
03.02.2017 11:04
Also on the photo is most prominent Mind Sports player from NL: Max Rebattu 5d.

He started at age 6 at Chess, but made most fame for his name as WC in Bridge
(Biarritz, 1979 - only for 15 minutes, after re-counting he got the Silver medal :(
- however, he won many more titles in Bridge, and forced 'eternal' European
Champion Jürgern Mattern to many play-offs in the late 70-ies, for more Silvers).
He lives in Amstelveen and always visits Dutch Champs in EGCC at board #1.
In Go, was 'Hollands Honinbo', taking first 6 titles in some dozen (60-ies) years.

Robert Rehm won the Dutch title only once, having the bad luck of needing to
overcome Max ... being immediately overtaken by Rob van Zeijst - who left for Japan ... and by next Ronald Schlemper, another Hollands Honinbo, still in Japan,
where he runs his own medical clinic.

Last, but not least, is manifold Champion Guo Juan 5P, who also won 4 EC's.

IMHO, this picture is very unique with eight major (multi)-Champions together!

Great report - as always - Marika! :*
Good luck against Justyna in the play-off
during the Amsterdam Tournament in May!
03.02.2017 19:34
Thank you for your comments! I have added the correct information to the champion's photo. I am glad you have enjoyed the article! :)

Thank you, Peter, I will do my best to become the champion again! :-)
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