Early December will see the University of Groningen host the first stage of a battle between Jan Groenendijk (18) from Wageningen and physics student from the University of Groningen Roel Boomstra (23) for the draughts world title. The festive opening will be held in the Academy Building on 2 December, and the first four matches will be played in the Van Swinderen Huys from 3 to 6 December.
The duel was organised in association with Damgenootschap Het Noorden. The battle for the title entails 12 matches and will continue in Wageningen on 8 December, with the deciding matches in The Hague on Sunday 18 December.
Under the heading ‘The Smart Moving Brain’, Groningen will show how draughts can help people to lead a healthy, active life. After the festive opening in the Academy Building with the Mayor of Groningen Peter den Oudsten and President of the Board of the University of Groningen Sibrand Poppema, the Sport Science Institute Groningen (a partnership between Hanze University of Applied Sciences, the University of Groningen, UMCG and the municipality) will host a symposium at which academics and public figures from the north will explain the finer details of draughts from a range of angles. The programme is being supported by the municipality and the Healthy Ageing Network Northern Netherlands (HANNN).
On Saturday 3 December Harm Wiersma, the last Dutch world champion (1984) and still active as players representative of the World Draughts Federation, will make the first move in the duel. Master draughts player Auke Scholma from Baflo will commentate on the four matches in Groningen. Various demonstrations and workshops will take place during and between the matches, with a masterclass given by Healthy Ageing figurehead Erik Scherder on 3 December. This will be followed by clinics on the themes Young versus Old, Draughts & Media and Football is a Brain Game. On 6 December, the Groningen stage will be concluded.
‘Science is a top-class sport, but in an academic setting, it takes on the character of a brain game. We are delighted to be hosting the first four matches of the draughts world championship between these two fantastic young masters’, says Poppema. ‘We are naturally proud that physics student Roel Boomstra will be defending the honour of our own University in December. According to the experts, he’s the favourite by a small margin, but sport is like science in this respect; nothing is certain. Jan Groenendijk narrowly missed winning the world title last year so he’ll probably be on fire. I’m looking forward to a great match. One thing we can be sure of is that the previous title-holders Harm Wiersma, Ton Sijbrands and Jannes van der Wal will gain a worthy successor.’ Daan Bultje, director of the Healthy Ageing Network Northern Netherlands (HANNN), is also looking forward to the forthcoming duel. ‘We all know that exercise, a healthy diet and clean, fresh air have enormous health benefits. What fewer people know is that being active and creative is also good for you. This applies to music and art, but also to brain games, such as chess and draughts. They stimulate your brain, and there’s nothing to stop you playing well into old age. And then there’s the social aspect. What could be nicer for a child than playing a game of draughts with its granny or granddad?’
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