Person of day   -  27 JANUARY 2021

JEROEN PIKET

JEROEN PIKET

The European U20 Championship in 1986 finished with victory for Vassily Ivanchuk, who won 10 points out of 13 available. However, with only a few rounds to go, the Soviet chess player was behind a young Dutchman, who defeated Vassily in a personal contest. But the strength of Ivanchuk’s competitor gave out at the finish and he only came second. His name was Jeroen Piket.

Piket was born on 27th January 1969 in Leiden and he soon became one of the most promising players in Dutch chess. Genna Sosonko - a grandmaster who consulted him- even brought the young talent to Moscow, to show him to Mikhail Botvinnik. In 1987, the vice-champion of the Old World among juniors made his debut for the “Folmac” super-club- he became the champion of Holland and won bronze at the European Cup. One year later, Piket would play for his country at the Olympiad for the first time.

In 1989, Jeroen became a grandmaster and gained priceless experience at the chess board, fighting in Dutch super-tournaments with Garry Kasparov, Anatoly Karpov and other elite chess players. In the early 1990s, he became the four-time champion of his country, although these tournaments were not attended by Jan Timman, who was fighting for the world championship at that time.

In 1993, he played a training match against Viktor Korchnoi and was thrashed by a score of 2:6. Nonetheless, the experience of playing against the famous chess player raised Piket’s level and enabled him to win future victories. He was a participant in PSA and FIDE inter-zonal tournaments in Groningen and Biel in 1993, contending for qualification for the candidates’ matches in the latter, but he lost the decisive match to Lautier.

Only one year later, the young chess player defeated Lev Polugaevsky 4,5:3,5 and Ljubomir Ljuboevic 6:2, won the super-tournament in Dortmund by one point and split first place in the Donner Memorial. Soon, Piket’s rating surpassed Jan Timman’s, but their match was won by the older of chess contenders with a score of 6:4. Back then, Jeroen was noticed by the sponsor of Amber chess tournament, Joop van Oosterom and the player from Leiden battled with the world’s leading chess players not only in Holland, but also beside the millionaire’s residence in Monaco.

In 1995, Jeroen Piket defeated the acting world champion Garry Kasparov at the Euwe Memorial- in the 1990s, the Dutchman was considered a difficult opponent for the 30th World Champion.

In 1997, the Dutchman came second in Wijk aan Zee and sensationally defeated Topalov in the FIDE knockout world championship, but in the decisive tie-breaker he lost to van Wely, who was beginning to challenge for the leadership in Holland at that time.

As a member of team “Bosna”, he is the winner of the European Champions’ Cup in 1999. That same year, he drew 4:4 with Anatoly Karpov and won in Biel. In 2000, the KasparovChess website organised an experimental Internet tournament with 60 minutes for each match. Jeroen won it, defeating Seirawan, Morozevich and Svidler en route to the final, where he conquered Kasparov himself!

In the 2000 FIDE knockout World Championship, he defeated Fernandez and Nevednichy, but lost to Gelfand. At that time, Piket remained a strong grandmaster, whose rating was about 2650, out of a maximum of 2670. However, in 2003, the Dutchman left chess- his patron decided to focus on the fight for the Correspondence chess world championship and employed Piket as his personal assistant. Soon, Joop van Oosterom’s dream came true, though Jeroen always denied his role in that process.

A few years ago, van Oosterom suffered a heart attack and the millionaire finished his chess projects, dying soon afterwards. Despite this, the Dutch grandmaster has not returned to the world of chess.