Crisis in Dutch Championship
Top Players Boycott Covid Restrictions
Here’s an interesting story. Some six Dutch chess players took their federation to court when the latter tried to insist on vaccine passports and/or daily testing for all participants of its national championship.
Lucas van Foreest, one of the country’s strongest grandmasters, refuses the vaccine, and so does his entire family.
The court ruled that the Dutch federation had the right to implement covid restrictions. As a result, many of Holland’s top players will boycott this year’s national championship.
Below is an english translation of an article on a popullar Russian chess site on the 14th by grandmaster Sosonko, describing the situation in Dutch chess.
Although the process initiated by the Dutch covid dissidents lasted longer than expected, it did not end with a sensation: the chess players lost. Participants in the national championship are required to present a certificate of vaccination against coronavirus or be tested before each round.
The champion of the country, Lucas van Forest, even before the start of the process, said that in this case he would not defend the title and kept his word: the tournament starts without him. Sergei Tivyakov also refused to participate and is flying to an open in Bangladesh the other day. Three lesser-known chess players with a rating of about 2400 will not play in the championship either. They have already been replaced by others, and the tournament grid remains the same: 24 participants will fight for the knockout championship title, and eight women will play in a circle.
Grandmaster Sipke Ernst, who supported his colleagues, agreed to the conditions proposed by the federation. Mahteld Forest will also be tested before each round. There is no time for vaccinations, not to mention the fact that the whole Van Forest family is confident that they are not safe. Mahteld is still fourteen years old, and she had to ask her parents for permission to participate in the championship. In the end, she managed to persuade her mother.
The process caused a great resonance in the country. Even before it began, a lot of reactions appeared on the Web. And not only chess players. Someone wrote that those who refuse to play with such requirements are absolutely right: after all, we are talking about fairly independent and thinking people who simply do not want to be vaccinated. Their right.
But most of the responses were of a different nature. “It’s also good that chess is not an Olympic sport. There, not only was a certificate of vaccination required, but tests were also required every day. And if I go to look at my favorite Feyenoord, I also have to show the vaccination code. And why should an exception be made for chess players, who are they after all. Lomaki! ” – wrote a football fan from Rotterdam.
“I don’t understand why an exception should be made for a certain group of people,” another echoed him. – And how can a test before a game take a chess player out of concentration? And in general, if the judges follow the lead of the chess players, at the Hogven city hall, where the tournament is held, we will see huge demonstrations of other athletes, service workers, dance schools, etc. etc.
“If the crown-passport is made mandatory, I will not defend my title.” This kind of articles with photos of the champion could be seen in many Dutch newspapers.
Even the primetime televised evening sports news has given attention to this topic. Despite the popularity of chess in the country, this does not happen often; the last time it was in January, when in Wijk aan Zee two Dutchmen played for the first place – Anish Giri and Jorden van Forest.
This question concerns not only Holland. In France and Germany, similar measures have been taken for a long time, and those who do not have a vaccination certificate are not allowed to compete. So in the recently started Bundesliga season, several chess players (local and foreign), who for one reason or another refuse to get vaccinated, were banned from playing for their clubs throughout the season. And in Italy, a similar rule takes effect from November 15th.
Less than a month is left before the European team championship in Slovenia. As far as I know, there are no such bans as of today, but who knows what will happen before November 12. Indeed, in this case, the same Lucas van Forest, announced for the Netherlands team, will not be easy to play in Slovenia. And in other teams, there will certainly be chess players without a vaccination certificate. Probably, everyday testing can be an alternative, albeit not a tragic one, but which one way or another will have to be reckoned with.
Even more stringent conditions have been set for unvaccinated participants in the Olympic Games in Beijing next year: they can take part in the competition only if they are previously in quarantine. How long? Four weeks!