Thursday, 17 May 2007

Chess in Amsterdam: beer and a board

de laurierboom chess cafe Amsterdam

"Chess in Amsterdam: beer and a board" is the concluding part of Paul Dargan's report on his recent trip to Amsterdam. I lived in Amsterdam for a year, and reading Paul's articles am wondering why on earth I didn't play any chess over there. Anyway, over to Paul:

I have fond memories of playing in chess cafes on previous trips [to Amsterdam] such as Gambit. Unfortunately the proprietor passed away and the venue has been closed for a couple of years now. However, there is a new venue "De Laurierboom” (the laurel tree) that I wanted to check-out. I knew that Saturday is a bad day to find chess players in Holland as national league matches take place – but I walked to the café anyway in the hope of finding a game.

There were half a dozen people in the relatively small venue and although no-one was actually playing at 16:00 several were reading chess books or magazines (of which there was a plentiful supply). The atmosphere was very relaxed and I ordered a coffee from the bar – stronger options are available, there are six beers on tap!

I was easily able to get a game and must particularly thank Folker van Dorp for his hospitality as he steadfastly refused to let me buy a round of beers as we played 7 minute blitz. I also appreciated the way he adhered to the implicit rule of not playing the same line twice so after e4 c5 Nf3 e6 d4 cd c3 he felt obliged to take on c3 (rather than playing his normal choice d5) to avoid repeating a previous game. [Roger: check Paul's notes on a trap in the Morra Gambit]

Time flew by until Folker needed to meet his wife after a hard days shopping and I had to head to the airport. It was 19:00 and the café was beginning to fill-up. I guess there were 20 people now gathered round 4 boards and apparently it gets busier as people return from their league matches. Overall a very pleasant few hours in good company – heartily recommended if you find yourself with time in Amsterdam.

Paul Dargan

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Chess Tales by Roger Coathup: A collection of online articles about chess and chess players.