Chess athletes to battle for glory in Bologna

At the request of Rector Silvia Lenaerts, student chess association Noesis will represent TU/e at an international chess tournament organized by the University of Bologna in Italy this June. A team comprising the best TU/e chess players will be competing against Cambridge and Yale, among others. The matches will be slow rapid games, played in a historic library.

Noesis was given no more than a week to put together an elite team when the Executive Board asked them if they would like to participate in the Alma Mater international chess tournament among top universities. Therefore, chairman Simon Biennier reached out to the Eindhoven chess players who managed to claim podium places at last summer’s IMC Dutch Student Chess Championship, which was hosted by Noesis together with sister association Tussen De Torens from Nijmegen in the Auditorium. The positions for boards 1 and 2 were filled in no time, and the third player was also swiftly found.

Positioned at board 1 will be Iwo Godzwon. The bachelor’s student in Data Science is a very strong player, a FIDE master even. He is so eager to compete in Bologna that he is passing up a European Championship in Hungary, says Biennier.

Jord Ypma, who is on the Unipartners board full-time this year and is doing his bachelor’s final project (BEP) in Data Science, will occupy the second board. This will only be possible if he moves up the deadline for his BEP four days, but it seems that is feasible. In 2021, Ypma competed in the first online rapid chess world championship. “As an opening for white, I like to use the Queen’s Gambit. In Italy, I’ll also use the Sicilian Defense when playing black.”

Board three will be occupied by Bas van Doren, co-founder of Noesis, and Simon Biennier will take a position at the fourth board. “I didn’t secure a podium place this summer, but with a rating of 2200 on Lichess, I’m not a weak player. As organizer and team captain, I definitely belong on the team.” When playing white, Biennier’s favorite opening is the Smith-Morra Gambit. “This leaves one of the pawns exposed so that I can develop my pieces faster.” The team calls itself “The Eindhoven Athletes”.

Slow rapid

The games will be played in a “slow rapid” format. “That means you get forty-five minutes and ten seconds are added per move,” Biennier explains. “It falls somewhere between fast chess and classical chess.”

The challenge of this tournament is that Noesis does not know how strong the opponents are. “But once we have the list of participants, we’ll use the Chessbase database to study their playing style.” It is possible that some of the major universities such as Edinburgh, Cambridge or Yale will be sending grandmasters, in which case it will be a tough task to beat them, Biennier thinks. “Cambridge is sending two teams, so you know it’s serious.” Among the 20 teams is one other Dutch university: Maastricht University.

The men have never before played in such a unique setting. The games will take place in the library of the University of Bologna. Founded in 1088, it is the oldest continuously operating university in the world. The library itself dates back to 1885. There, the tournament will take place from June 14-16.

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