Seventy years Corus Chess Tournament
Seventy years of Corus Chess Tournaments; one of the largest and most illustrious tournaments in the world. Back in 1938, the founders would probably not have imagined that this chess tournament would one day grow into such a phenomenal international success. A building called “The Casino” stood on the premises known as Hoogovens at the time. This was where the Hoogovens Chess Club (HOSC) played every week and the very first Hoogovens Chess Tournament took place here as well. In fact, it spanned an entire weekend, with 40 participants in the four-event matches and the odd Sunday afternoon player.
Four years later, in 1942, The Casino had outgrown its capacity. By then the number of participants had increased to 144 and the tournament was moved to the Kennemer Theatre in Beverwijk and Concordia in Velsen-Noord.
The chess tournament also started to develop more and more of its own traditions. Many chess players found accommodation with host families in IJmond, for example, and as a token of gratitude a Bonte Avond, or Nutty Night, was organised. In later years, famous Dutch entertainers, such as André van Duin, Corry Brokken and Willy Schobbe’s dance orchestra, performed at the Bonte Avond. The food shortages during the wartime years prompted another tradition: every tournament was concluded with a pea soup (snert) evening. This special custom is still honoured today.
That the chess tournament would not be able to escape the misery of war entirely became clear in 1945, the only year when the organisers were forced to cancel the tournament. Fortunately, a special tournament was held the very next year. It even took on an international flavour, thanks to the participation of a Swede and a Belgian, who also won the tournament. It took another 15 years before the first Russian players were able to participate, in 1960.
In 1968 the chess tournament was relocated from Beverwijk to Wijk aan Zee. The venue was the Kennemerduin Hotel. This jubilee tournament was officially opened by no one less than Prince Claus. In 1980 the hotel found an entirely different purpose when it was transformed into a shelter for Vietnamese boat people. The tournament was forced to move to a new location once again. Wijk aan Zee made the brand new town hall and sports centre complex, De Moriaan, available for this purpose. It is still one of the key venues of the Corus Chess Tournament, although inside it looks quite different today. Chess is also played at many other venues in Wijk aan Zee. In fact, the annual Corus Chess Tournament in January still turns the entire village upside-down!