Dutch Language Blog

The Dutch & Chess – Part 3: Joining a Schaakvereniging Posted by on Dec 14, 2020 in Culture, Dutch Language, Dutch Vocabulary

With the miniseries The Queen’s Gambit, schaken (to play chess) has received a lot of attention. When I was a kid, I played schaak (chess) competitively with a Dutch schaakvereniging (chess club). I was never that good, let alone at Beth Harmon’s level, but I had my fun and victories. I could really identify with the long and exhausting games that could last 4 hours or more. With the accurate depiction of schaak, based on real partijen (parties) played between legendary spelers (players), it is a wonderful homage to the game. So I decided that I would do my own little miniseries on schaak in the Netherlands. In this three-parter, I will look at the following questions: Did the Dutch ever have a wereldkampioen (world champion)? How does chess vocabulary translate to Dutch? And what if you wanted to get started playing chess in the Netherlands yourself? After having looked at some famous Dutch schaakspelers (chess players) and having learnt all the vocabulary, it’s time to learn some chess yourself! Learn the stappenmethode, make friends at a schaakvereniging or challenge yourself in online games!

For other posts in this miniseries, click here.

Join a schaakvereniging!

Image by Jani Kaasinen at Unsplash.com, edited by author

Unlike schools in the United States, Dutch scholen (schools) don’t have clubs or sports associations. All of that is outside of school, and you have to just figure out how to get involved. One initiative that existed when I was in school to get an idea of things out there is Kies je Sport (Choose your Sport). The website now just lets you search for activities in your area, the internet was not that useful yet when I was a kid. It was advertised at schools. It was kind of an open day at sportverenigingen (sport clubs). I tried tennis, and was shocked at how difficult it is to hit the ball properly, as in over the net and within bounds. Harder than it looked!

I also tried the schaakclub (chess club), and I really enjoyed it! Chess had been introduced to me before, because the klaslokaal (classroom) of my groep (class in elementary school) had a schaakbord (chess board) and some of my klasgenoten (classmates) played. I met some at that schaakclub, too.

This is me! During a schoolschaaktoernooi in March, 2008, I played on the first board. Each speler had 30 minutes on the klok. I don’t remember what happened in this partij, but let’s just assume that I won! Hehe. (Image by author)

And that’s how my journey started. But really, joining a schaakclub is as easy as simply going there and inquiring. They will likely have you for the night, play some games with you, and you could consider signing up. In my vereniging, games were played every day of the week, and I went once a week to do schaakopgaves (chess tasks) and learn. I used little colorful numbered books and later did the opgaves on old computers in the club. These are part of the Stappenmethode (Step Method), which was developed by Rob Brunia and Cor van Wijgerden, two important figures in the Dutch chess scene. It is available online, and you can easily get the software yourself in Dutch and English!

While it is possible to go to schaaktoernooien (chess tournaments) without being part of a club and play as a hobbyist (hobby player), it is always nicer to go to a toernooi with people you know and discuss your games with them!

Do you want to check out a schaakclub in your area? Click here for a website where you can find clubs in your area!

Or perhaps you know some jeugd (youth) that would enjoy playing? There are schoolschaaktoernooien (school chess tournaments) too, with school teams that play against each other. It’s real fun!

If you feel like that’s too much, you can also always start playing online, on websites like chess.com, for example.

Would you join a chess club or play in tournaments yourself, or are you already doing that? Let me know in the comments below!

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About the Author: Sten

Hi! I am Sten, both Dutch and German. For many years, I've written for the German and the Dutch blogs with a passion for everything related to language and culture. It's fascinating to reflect on my own culture, and in the process allow our readers to learn more about it! Besides blogging, I am a German-Dutch-English translator, animator and filmmaker.