He was the first Dutch chess player to win the Tata Steel tournament in 36 years. Suddenly, the young teacher was completely in the spotlight and for the first time media requests poured in from all sides. Everyone wants something from him, says Jordan van Forest, 22, from his apartment in Bruges. He has been living in Belgium with his student girlfriend Sophie for over a year now.
The victory at Wijk aan Zee made him take a step forward as an international chess player. “For the times when things go against me and my courage wanes, I think of that victory and realize: I should be able to play the game.”
After you won the championship, you sat at home for months. How was that?
“If you win a chess tournament like this, you usually get a lot of invites. But because of the Corona pandemic, the next thing was on the boardtournament in July. This was a shame, because I couldn’t get over it. I used to play chess online, but she doesn’t have the same taste.”
How long can you dwell on such a great achievement?
“With all this attention it is easy to think: everything is fine, I don’t have to train hard right away. I should have done it better, I think in hindsight. In my first two tournaments after that, in Prague and the World Cup in Sochi. I didn’t play well. In September, I booked an important win with Sigeman in Malmö. A tournament with a great tradition, won by all the strong players, if not once.”
Wijk aan Zee’s success led to two sponsorship deals.
“Chess was and is, to some extent, an uncertain existence. Simply because the financial conditions, if you compete at the highest level, are not like other sports. I am now in a position where I can live quite comfortably, travel and pay the rent. I make most of the costs out of behind Behind the scenes; the courses, hardware and software I need to work at the highest level in chess.”
Read also: Chess Week Champion Jordan Van Forest (2021)
I said last year Norwegian Refugee Council You want to buy an expensive chess computer. Did you do that?
“Now I am using the cloud. I am using the computing power that large companies use for their services and data. I am using it to run a powerful chess computer on it and train the best chess slot and best move. I am using much better computing power than I was a year ago, thanks to the sponsors.”
What is the biggest difference between last year and now?
“To get more invitations to competitions that are limited to the absolute top. So I had the opportunity to play against Kasparov. [oud-wereldkampioen] to play chess. I never expected it, because after retiring in 2004 he still plays sporadically in a serious tournament. We played a flash game twice [snelschaken] against each other and managed to defeat him once. I would not have been able to gain such an experience without Wijk aan Zee.”
I’ve also worked with world champion Magnus Carlsen.
She supported him with three others in his World Cup match in Dubai against Russia’s Yan Nepomnyashti. Every day we tried to prepare it as much as possible. It worked out very well, because after the first six very difficult matches, he already won easily. While he slept, we worked from Thailand on the best possible openings and moves. Fortunately, Magnus woke up very late.”
How did it get to you?
“Even he can’t do everything himself. Finding opening ideas is one of my strengths, he respects that. I played against him a few times and beat him once in pre-season. At Wijk aan Zee in 2020, I came close to winning. But he The world champion for some reason, his tremendous insight. How much he knows about chess, I’ve never seen. It was such a great opportunity and an honor to work for him.”
You are now ranked 35th in the world ranking. what is your ambition?
“When I was sixteen, seventeen, I thought top twenty wasn’t a reality. Now this is within reach. My goal is to get higher in this world ranking. They are small differences.”
Can we call you another talent?
“Others have to decide. But you could say I can play with the big guys now and maybe I have less talent.”
What is your chance of a Wijk aan Zee this year?
“Not much, haha. I really don’t know dude, it might be less than 1 percent. But I don’t care, because I would do it again.”
Are you deeper on this point than last year?
“Every year I’m afraid it will go wrong, but I’ve proven otherwise. I now have the experience to win and that’s a lot already. I know what to do to win. I’m very interested in him. I can’t wait.”
A version of this article also appeared in NRC Handelsblad on January 14, 2022
A version of this article also appeared on NRC on the morning of January 14, 2022