Sibrand Poppema even took off his tie... Last Friday the President of the Board of the University had absolutely no intention of letting the opening match of the Draughts World Championships turn into a formality. His opponent, Mayor Peter den Oudsten, was equally determined. The two threw their hearts into heading the ad hoc teams of the University and the Municipality, watched by a capacity crowd in the Curatorenkamer in the Academy Building, which had been specially adapted for the occasion.
During two proper time-outs, Team Den Oudsten team was supported by 18-year-old Jan Groenendijk from Wageningen, who is competing in a 12-match tournament for the draughts world title against UG student Roel Boomstra (23), who supported Team Poppema. The gamed ended in a draw after over half an hour, and both Boomstra and Groenendijk were pleasantly surprised by the play and the fighting spirit of their ‘pupils’.
A day later, the two grandmasters enthusiastically started their first match in the Van Swinderen Huys on the Boteringestraat, which will host the tournament until Tuesday. The audience, including Sibrand Poppema, witnessed an impressive victory by the Groningen favourite Roel Boomstra. However, after the second match on Sunday he will certainly not be resting on his laurels – Groenendijk managed to get his nose in front with an incredibly complicated series of moves. However, with only seconds remaining on the clock he was unable to implement a winning move, and Boomstra was able to force a draw with some impressive defence work.
This is a very promising start for the rest of the tournament, which after sessions in Wageningen and The Hague will result on 18 December in a Dutch successor to legendary champions such as Ton Sijbrands, Harm Wiersma and Jannes van der Wal.
Update 12 December 2016
Roel Boomstra is virtually assured of the title: at this moment he only needs 2 more points.
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