was played on Saturday, January 24, 2004 as part of the Corus Chess Tournament at Wijk aan Zee.
It was played with ordinary chess pieces and four superchess pieces:
Amazon moving as Queen or Knight,
Empress moving as Rook or Knight,
Princess moving as Bishop or Knight, and
Veteran moving as King or Knight (please note: the Veteran cannot be checked or mated).
7 rounds Swiss, 25 min. pppp.
Tom Bottema, press officer of the Corus Chess Committee, has become the first Dutch Superchess Champion. In the VIP-room of the community centre De Moriaan he scored 6 points out of 7 games thus beating second-place winner Luuk van Rijn by a half point. The third place was shared by Wim Vriend and Dimitri van Leent with 5 points each. Altogether twenty-four superchess players participated in this unique tournament, which will certainly be continued next year according to Corus-initiator Arno Vrins and sponsor Corus Danieli.
Champion Tom Bottema showed himself increasingly enthusiastic about Superchess as he became more acquainted with the new pieces during the match. He loved in particular the Veteran as a powerful piece, especially in the defence, and the Princess allowing beautiful tactical combinations. Playing "those terrible Amazons" he often tried to avoid by offering to swap them. "Superchess is more interesting than I had expected in advance, and I don't say that because I am the champion now," said the first (Dutch) Superchess Champion at the press conference.
The Corus Chess Tournament is one of the, if not the, leading chess tournament(s) in the world. Its 66th edition was held January 9-25, 2004, at Wijk aan Zee, The Netherlands. In her inaugural address on January 9, Maria van der Hoeven, the Dutch Minister of Education, Culture and Science, said profound and thoughtful words about the game of chess, including:
"First of all there is the aspect of education. The game of chess is a great help when it comes to focusing, visualising, thinking ahead, weighing up options, analysing things in concrete terms, thinking abstractly and planning. None of these skills are specific to chess, but they are all part of the game.
The beauty of chess as a teaching tool is that it stimulates children's minds and helps them to build these skills while enjoying themselves. As a result, children become more critical thinkers, better problem solvers and more independent decision makers. What is more, it is a beautiful tool which helps people to learn what it is like to win graciously, not to give up when facing defeat or, maybe most importantly, how to lose. On top of that, chess can build bridges, bringing together children of different ages, races and genders.
Moving swiftly to the scientific work of my department, I would like to emphasise that science is acquiring a more and more important position in our economy. Knowledge-based economical sectors are starting to emerge and, as we all know, computers are playing a key role in this development. We also know the importance of the game of chess in creating decision-making software."
How true these words are! They become even more true when
"chess" would be replaced by "Superchess". Indeed, if compared to
classical chess, playing Superchess does not require memorising large numbers of opening
variants. The emphasis is placed more on tactical and strategical insight and, more
generally, on "understanding the game".
Thinking ahead, analysing, thinking abstractly: The Superchess player needs these qualities even more than the classical chess player. Intelligence, skill and ingenuity are relatively more important because the vast library of information and literature on the opening variants does not play such a large role anymore. Moreover, Superchess introduces additional fascinating tactical combinations by superadding new pieces with new movements to the classical chessmen. These new possibilities enlarge the abstract "playing space" and enhance the beauty of the game. Nevertheless, the fundamental feature of chess, its character, is essentially preserved.
For a scientific exposé on the arguments in favour of Superchess, on other chess-like games, the optimality of thinking games in general and related subjects, the interested reader is kindly referred to the Note "Superchess" by H. van Haeringen and H.J. van den Herik in the ICGA Journal, December 2003, Vol. 26, No. 4, pp. 239-250. The challenging task to transform the current chess-playing computer programs into superchess-playing programs of considerable strength is also briefly discussed. You may apply for a reprint (free) of this note via email.
(photographs Arno Vrins)
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