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Harm Wiersma
European Champion

Harm Wiersma

Harm Wiersma Champion

It wasn't until some time in 1992 that the former Dutch World Champion re-appeared on the International checkers scene, and when he began to compete across the checkerboard, Harm Wiersma had not seemingly lost any of his skill, techniques or individual checkers style. Although he had resigned from contesting in personal games at World Checkers Championships after 1984, he was back facing opponents across the checkerboard in the world checkers arena in Toulon, France. Alexei Tsjizjov defended his World checkers title from 1988 through 1991 and he succeeded in retaining that title in 1992.

However, Harm Wiersma European Champion did return to the national checkers scene and succeeded in winning the National checkers tournament and title of Netherlands’ Champion in 1992.


Toulon 1992

European Champion Harm Wiersma also joined the field of Grandmasters to participate in the first half of the World Championship Cup hosted in Toulon, France. After a few years absent from the checkerboard and contenders in the International checkers circuit, Harm fared surprisingly well. European Champion Harm Wiersma's final opponent was World Champion, Alexei Tsjizjov, from the Soviet Union, but his defeat resulted in his tie for second place with Rob Clerc, Ton Sijbrands and Alexander Baljakin.

Then European Harm Wiersma was back in form the following year and gave Alexei a run for his money at the checkerboard in the second half of the World Championship Cup held in Leeuwarden, Netherlands. In the final round of the championship, Wiersma challenged the defending champion to a solid game of checkers, but Harm couldn't quite pull off a winning result. The final score ended the game with 22-18 going to the World Champion, Alexei Tsjizjov. Once again, Tsjizjov successfully defended his World title.

Harm Wiersma vs Alexei Tsjizjov
Harm Wiersma vs Alexei Tsjizjov
Leeuwarden 1993

There was somewhat of an irony in that total outcome because European Champion Harm Wiersma scored the same points in the 1979 and 1981 World Championships against Anatoli Gantwarg. Harm then continued to contest other local and national tournaments within the International checkers circuit.

In 1998, he entered the 80th National Netherlands European Championship tournament in Hoogezand-Sappemeer for the seventh time in his impressive checkers career for the title of National Champion in the Netherlands.

At first, the championship checkers play was less than exciting with Hans Jansen from the Gelderse Huissen club leading the chase at the checkerboard, with only Harm Wiersma coming up for a real challenge. The closer the challengers moved towards the tournament the end, the closer Wiersma moved towards Jansen’s score. Jansen soon felt a tingling in his neck as Wiersma was closing in and made a mistake against the youngest participant, Kees Thijssen, which cost him in his latter round. In the final round of the checkers competition, both master players had accumulated seventeen points in thirteen games so a playoff was necessary. The first three games ended in a draw, which was in Jansen’s favor but against Wiersma.

The tournament then moved into a checkers game played with an accelerated pace, but the opponents were closely matched and the first result at the checkerboard remained the same. In the second checkers game Wiersma created a ‘crook’ on the checkerboard, which took Jansen by surprise because he didn't know the outcome of the play. The final result ended in Harm Wiersma winning the 1998 European Championship Championship with his renowned creativity.

7th National Checkers Champional Title
Harm Wiersma
1998 Netherlands Champion
7th National Checkers Champion Title

Wiersma continued to play within the European International checkers arena and maintained his dominance in the mind sport. In September 1999, he contested for his first European Championship Title in the tournament also held in the Town Hall of Hoogezand-Sappemeer.

Ton Sijbrands and Harm Wiersma both took part in this unique tournament and they had not competed against each other since the Toulon World Championship of 1992. Before that they hadn't met in the Netherlands’ tournament since some time around 1973. Harm Wiersma certainly entered into a diverse, interesting and yet strong field of checker MI and GMI: Ton Sijbrands, Anatoli Gantwarg, Guntis Valneris, Alexander Getmanski, Alexander Georgiev, Rob Clerc, Raoul Bubbi, Eduard Boezinski and other checkerists. Of all these checkers opponents, only Boezinski was not a former World Champion. These checkers players represented quite a cross-section of countries wherein checkers games are a dominant and popular mind sport: Netherlands, Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Poland, France, Estonia, Lithuania, Belgium, Italy, Israel and Azerbaidjan.

It wasn't long after the start of the competition that it became a seesaw affair to see who would take the lead, maintain the lead and eventually win the European Championship title; however, the tournament path at the checkerboard took on a series of interesting twists until the final winning combination unfolded at the end of the road.
  • Sijbrands started out strong with an early lead of 5/6 wins but after round 6 Boezinski caught up to the GM.

  • Alexander Georgiev had a slow start with two draws and a postponed game and by round 7, he had not won a game; eventually he did win a game.

  • At one point in the tournament, Harm could only draw his checkers games and dropped back to third place, but by round 7 Wiersma had worked his way to the top with 10/14 and now rivaled his Dutch compatriot for the lead spot; both were undefeated.

  • The checkers race for points between Gantwarg, Valneris and Getmanski was neck and neck at 13/18.

  • By the 12th round, the Dutch duo of Wiersma/Sijbrands had put some distance between their play and the rest of the checkers field and both were undefeated; Boezinski and Gantwarg were close behind, as was Guntis.

  • In the second last round, 14/15 Harm Wiersma put forth extra effort at the checkerboard and his skill placed him first, one point ahead of rival, Sijbrands; Wiersma held at 22/28, and neither GM had been defeated in his play.

  • Then Ton Sijbrands failed to use his supreme checkers skill in his last round against Azerbaidjan Eldar Aliev and lost his chance at first place because he now remained one point behind the leader, Wiersma.

  • In the same round, Wiersma defeated Russian Grandmaster, Anatoli Gantwarg.

  • Guntis Valneris won three checkers games in a row.

  • In the final round, Sijbrands played to a draw with his opponent, Alexander Getmanski from Russia.

  • Harm Wiersma also played to a checkers draw against Italian, Raoul Bubbi, who posed no threat in the title championship.

  • In the end, the major competitor to finally come out of his modest corner was Lithuanian checkerist, Eduard Boezinski.

  • Rob Clerc, usually a strong checkers player, did not seemingly pose much threat throughout the European Championship and finished in 7th place overall with 15 points.
The top five finishers automatically qualified for the World Championship in Riga and by the fourteenth round there was a clear indication as to which players were already seeded to the World Championship in 2000.

When all rounds were complete and the final score was tallied, Harm Wiersma won his first European Championship title in his illustrious checkers career with a total score of 23 points in fifteen games. Ton Sijbrands and Guntis Valneris finished with 22/15 and tied for 2nd place, Eduard Boezinski and Anatoli Gantwarg ranked in a 3rd place tie with 21/15 and the next contender was Alexander Getmanski with 16/15. Both European players Wiersma and Sijbrands claimed that they had no interest in participating in the World Championship in Riga, Russia unless it was a worthwhile proposition financially.
Harm & Raoul Bubbi
Harm & Raoul Bubbi
Harm Wiersma European Champion 1999
Harm Wiersma
European Champion 1999
Harm Wiersma & Ton Sijbrands
Harm Wiersma & Ton Sijbrands
After this European Championship tournament, neither Harm nor Ton attended the World Championship match in Riga. When considering a World competition, a major consideration was the location of the tournament. For Ton Sijbrands especially, he would consider playing if the checkers championship was held in the Netherlands, but would not likely participate in a Russian setting because traditionally these checkers tournaments had been poorly organized and run. Ton commented that the Dutch players would take timers, checkerboards and checkers with them on the plane when they traveled to participate in the Russian locale. The only real incentive that would possibly override this decision would be if a substantial purse was awarded as prizes for the first through fourth placements.

Both Harm and Ton had taken time off from the World Championship checkers circuit for different reasons. Sijbrands had left the arena for a longer period than Wiersma, which spanned 1973-1988. He stated that he spent time as a publicist and game analyst, but part of his personal reason was also that the checkers championships had been very stressful for him. During these major tournaments, he had great difficulty in dealing with the tension and stress in past competitions. Over the years, Sijbrands’ analyses and reflections on the game of International checkers and the arena surrounding the game became his trademark. He admitted that he had prepared with some intensity for the European championship and it was only with one slight miscalculation that cost him the tying point for first place with Harm Wiersma.
Wiersma left the World Championship stage in 1984 and focused on his business, writing checkers games analyses in the De Telegraaf, coaching for the KNDB, Netherlands Checkers Association and organizing various checkers tournaments and participating in simultaneous play.

Harm observed the affect of an ‘old feud’ between Ton Sijbrands and Rob Clerc during the 1999 European Championship on Ton, who refused to consider reconciliation with the other Grandmaster. Clerc took it in stride but commented that Sijbrands was an introvert with symptoms of a borderline paranoia complex. Wiersma commented that Ton was certainly not as outgoing as he was, nor was he as light hearted with the same sense of humor as Harm, but they were a good counterpart for each other.

European Champion Harm Wiersma praised Ton’s analytical ability and innate checkers skill and stated that Sijbrands’ presence in a championship or less tournament definitely raised the caliber of play.

Netherlands Harm Wiersma
Checkers Game Simultaneous Record World Champion Harm Wiersma Harm Wiersma European Champion
Representative Wiersma Dutch checkers Harm Wiersma Players Harm Wiersma and Ton Sijbrands

DeerLake Online Store Items

Wonder Mugs Play checkers online, and enjoy drinking from this cool wonder mug.
When adding hot liquid, the colors of the mug will change, checkers cool.

Checkers is a two-player game, where one player is assigned white-chip checkers and the other red. The aim is to play checkers online, capture all of the other player's checkers or make them impossible to move.

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