Joop van Oosterom, who died last year, sponsored many great tournaments that produced some wonderful games.

Joop van Oosterom, a Dutch software developer and billionaire, died last October at the age of 78, though news of his passing only appeared in the last week or so. He was a strong player in his youth, winning the Dutch Youth Championship in 1955 and competing in the World Youth Championship later that year. But it was in correspondence chess that he made his biggest mark as a player, winning the 18th and 21st World Correspondence Chess Championships in 2005 and 2008, respectively.

His greatest fame in the chess world came not as a player, however, but as a sponsor. He created a tournament called Melody Amber (later just simply Amber), which was named for his daughter, and was held annually from 1992 to 2011. All of the world’s best grandmasters, except for Garry Kasparov (by the latter’s choice), participated. The competitors would play two games against all the other players – one a standard rapid game and one a blindfold rapid game.

Oosterom also sponsored a number of other chess events on a regular basis, including various youth vs. veterans and (older) male vs. female competitions. Many beautiful games were played in his events, including the following two:

Kramnik, Vladimir vs. Topalov, Veselin
Amber-blindfold 12th | Monte Carlo | Round 2 | 16 Mar 2003 | ECO: B82 | 1-0
1. e4 Kramnik has generally played the Closed Openings, but at different periods in his career, including the period from around 2003-2005, he has switched to 1.e4, often with success.
1... c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nc6 5. Nc3 d6 6. Be3 Nf6 7. f4 a6 This Rauzer Variation-style plan appears a little slow against White's setup.
7... Be7 and  )
7... Bd7 appear more popular at the moment.  )
8. Qf3 Qc7
8... Nxd4 9. Bxd4 b5 is a funny and untested idea initially suggested by the computer. It may not be very good if White castles queenside, but the immediate attempt to crush Black with
10. e5 isn't so dangerous:
10... dxe5! 11. Qxa8 exd4 12. O-O-O Be7 13. Qa7 Qd7 14. Qxd4 Qxd4 15. Rxd4 Bc5 16. Rd3 Bb7 gives Black fair counterplay.  )
9. O-O-O Bd7 10. Nb3 The bloodthirsty
10. g4 may be best of all. Black can win the g-pawn with
10... Nxd4 11. Rxd4! e5 12. Rc4 Bxg4 , but White is much better after
13. Qg3! Qd7 14. Na4! +/-  )
10... Rc8 11. Kb1 b5 12. Bd3 Nb4 13. g4 Bc6 14. g5 Nd7 In his notes to the game in the Informant, Kramnik considered
14... Nxe4 (?) and rejected
15. Nxe4 due to
15... d5 , but he missed the fantastic
16. Nf6+! gxf6 17. Bd4 , which gives White a winning advantage thanks to Black's permanently terrible king.  )
15. Qf2
15. Be2! is a surprising move suggested by the computer. It makes excellent sense, avoiding the exchange and threatening to trap the knight with a3, but what about
15... Nxc2 , intending to meet Kxc2 with ...b4? Surprisingly, White can calmly retreat the second bishop, too:
16. Bf2! b4 17. Nd5! One unexpected move follows another.
17... exd5 18. exd5 Ba4 19. Rc1 White will regain the piece and re-establish material equality, but his king is much safer than its counterpart. Black's position is nearly lost.  )
15... g6? Black wants the bishop on g7 to help his attack, but the mileage White will get out of f4-f5 exceeds the value of Black's fianchettoed bishop.
15... Nxd3 16. cxd3 b4 17. Ne2 leaves Black without any attacking chances. White's plan is to put a knight on d4, a rook on c1, and then resume his own attacking plans.  )
16. Rhf1
16. Bf1! Bb7 17. Bd4  )
16... Bg7 17. f5! Ne5 18. Bb6! Pushing the queen so she'll have to give up the c-file, and either the defense of the d-pawn or an active position.
18... Qd7
18... Qb8 was probably better, even though it leaves f7 a little loose.
19. Be2 Nxc2 20. f6! Bf8 21. Rd2 Nc4 22. Bxc4 bxc4 23. Na5 Nb4 24. Qe3  )
19. Be2! At last Kramnik retreats the bishop, and his reward is a winning position. White has two big threats: first, the familiar idea of a2-a3; second, the even bigger threat of Nc5, winning either the queen and a pawn for a rook and knight (in case Black plays ...dxc5) or a piece (in case of ...Qe7 f6).
19... Qb7 20. Na5 Qb8 21. f6 Bf8 22. a3 Collecting the piece.
22... Nxc2 23. Kxc2
23. Rc1 is even stronger.  )
23... Bxe4+ 24. Kb3 Ba8 25. Ba7
25. Ka2 was safest, when Black could resign without a second thought.  )
25... Qc7 26. Qb6?! Trading queens looks as logical as could be, but Black gets a little counterplay after this.
26... Qxb6 27. Bxb6 h6 First
27... Nd7 , and only after
28. Bd4 is it time for
28... h6  )
28. Nxb5! Kd7!
28... axb5 29. Bxb5+ Nd7 30. Rc1 Rb8? 31. Rc7 is crushing. Black's problem is that he can't take on b6:
31... Rxb6 32. Rc8#  )
29. Bd4 Not the most efficient choice, nor the simplest, but Kramnik had calculated a fantastic finish - blindfold and with a short time control.
29. Rc1!  )
29... Bd5+ 30. Ka4 axb5+ 31. Bxb5+ Bc6
31... Nc6 32. Bf2  )
32. Bxe5! Bxb5+ 33. Kxb5 Rc5+ 34. Kb6! Rxe5 Black has regained his piece, and is about to activate the rook on h8 in the process of destroying White's kingside. Unfortunately for him, White is going to deliver mate, thanks to his very active king.
35. Rc1! Rxa5
35... hxg5 36. Rc7+ Ke8 37. Rfc1 Rc5 38. R1xc5 dxc5 39. Kc6 Be7 40. Rc8+ Bd8 41. Nb7 and as Black can't castle, there's nothing he can do on the board to stop 42.Rxd8#.  )
36. Rc7+!!
36. Kxa5 d5 offers some hope.  )
36... Kd8 37. Rfc1 Rc5
37... Ra8 38. Kb7!  )
38. R1xc5 dxc5 39. Kc6! White's threat is simple: 40.Ra7 and 41.Ra8#, and there is no good way to meet it.
39. Kc6! Bd6 40. Kxd6 e5 41. Ra7 Kc8 42. Ra8+  )
Beliavsky, Alexander G vs. Nakamura, Hikaru
Amsterdam NH Hotels 4th | Amsterdam | Round 3 | 22 Aug 2009 | ECO: E97 | 0-1
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Nf3 O-O 6. Be2 e5 7. O-O Nc6 8. d5 Ne7 9. Nd2 Nakamura has won many beautiful games with Black in the Classical King's Indian. Here's one from the 2015 Sinquefield Cup.
9. Ne1 Nd7 10. f3 f5 11. Be3 f4 12. Bf2 g5 13. Nd3 Ng6 14. c5 Nf6 15. Rc1 Rf7 16. Kh1 h5 17. cxd6 cxd6 18. Nb5 a6 19. Na3 b5 20. Rc6 g4 21. Qc2 Qf8 22. Rc1 Bd7 23. Rc7 Bh6 24. Be1 h4 25. fxg4 f3 26. gxf3 Nxe4 27. Rd1 Rxf3 28. Rxd7 Rf1+ 29. Kg2 Be3 As great as the game was, it would have been even greater had Nakamura found
...  30. Bg3 hxg3 31. Rxf1 Nh4+ 32. Kh3 Qh6 33. g5 Nxg5+ 34. Kg4 Nhf3 35. Nf2 Qh4+ 36. Kf5 Rf8+ 37. Kg6 Rf6+ 38. Kxf6 Ne4+ 39. Kg6 Qg5# 0-1 (39) So,W (2779)-Nakamura,H (2814) Saint Louis 2015  )
9... Ne8 10. b4 f5 11. c5 Nf6 12. f3 f4 13. Nc4 g5 14. a4 Ng6 15. Ba3 Rf7 16. a5 A year later Gelfand played the better
16. b5 , but he also went down in a blaze of glory.
16... dxc5 17. Bxc5 h5 18. a5 g4 19. b6 g3 20. Kh1 Bf8 21. d6 axb6 22. Bg1 Nh4 In subsequent games Black has preferred
...  23. Re1? Nxg2! 24. dxc7? Nxe1! 25. Qxe1 g2+! 26. Kxg2 Rg7+ 27. Kh1 Bh3! 28. Bf1 Qd3! 29. Nxe5 Bxf1! Insisting!
30. Qxf1 Qxc3 31. Rc1 Qxe5 32. c8=Q Rxc8 33. Rxc8 Qe6 The dust has settled and Black is up a piece for nothing, so White resigned. 0-1, Gelfand,B (2761)-Nakamura,H (2708) Bursa 2010  )
16... h5
16... Bf8  )
17. b5 dxc5 18. b6!
18. Bxc5 transposes to the Gelfand-Nakamura game given above, and to many others as well.  )
18. Na4!?  )
18... g4 19. bxc7 Rxc7 20. Nb5 Everything seems to be going smoothly for White, who is crashing through on the queenside and in the center.
20... g3!! 21. Nxc7! If White tries to keep the kingside shut with
21. h3 , Black will rip it off:
21... Bxh3! 22. gxh3 Qd7! 23. Nxc7 Qxh3 24. Rf2 gxf2+ 25. Kxf2 Qg3+ 26. Kf1 Ng4! 27. fxg4 f3! 28. Ne6! fxe2+ 29. Qxe2 Nf4 30. Nxf4 Rf8 31. Bc1 exf4 32. Ra2 hxg4 33. Nd6 Bd4 34. Qg2 Qd3+ 35. Qe2 Qh3+ 36. Qg2 Qd3+  )
21... Nxe4! 22. Ne6 White had to play the cold-blooded
22. fxe4! Qh4 23. h3 Bxh3 24. gxh3 Qxh3 25. Rf2 gxf2+ 26. Kxf2 , when it doesn't look like Black has enough attack for the material.
26... Qg3+ 27. Kf1 f3 28. Nxa8 fxe2+ 29. Kxe2! Nf4+ 30. Kd2 Qd3+ 31. Kc1 Qxc4+ 32. Qc2 Nd3+ 33. Kb1 Qxe4 34. d6 seems to win for White, or at least give him excellent winning chances.  )
22... Bxe6 23. dxe6 gxh2+ 24. Kxh2 Qh4+ 25. Kg1 Ng3 26. Bxc5 e4! 27. Ra4! Rc8! White is up a rook for one measly pawn, but the burden is on him to maintain equality. Black threatens the bishop on c5, the rook on f1, has designs on playing ...e3 and ...Qh1#, and in return White has only one unit that can bother Black somewhat, and that's his e-pawn.
28. Bxa7? This meets with a visually stunning refutation.
28. Nd6 exf3 29. Bxf3 Rxc5 30. e7 Nxe7 31. Re1  )
28. e7 Nxe7 29. Nd6 exf3 30. Bxf3 Rxc5 31. Re1 This position is identical to the one at the end of the 28.Nd6 variation.  )
28... b5!! It seems that players often miscalculate lines where an en passant capture is involved. White could take the pawn, but then the bishop on a7 no longer covers the d4 square, and Black wins with a simple tactic.
29. Rb4
29. axb6? Bd4+ 30. Qxd4 Nxe2#  )
29... bxc4 Now Black is almost equal in material, and his attack continues unabated. White is lost.
30. Bxc4
30. Rxc4!? Rd8! Black should beware. It looks as if
...  31. Qc2 e3! 32. Bxe3 Qh1+ 33. Kf2 fxe3+ 34. Kxe3 Qxg2 and wins, e.g.
35. Rf2 Qg1 36. Qxg6 Nf1+ 37. Bxf1 Qxg6  )
30... Qh1+ Nothing wrong with
30... e3 this time.  )
31. Kf2 e3+ 32. Bxe3 fxe3+ 33. Kxe3 Nxf1+
33... Qh4  )
33... Nf5+  )
34. Bxf1 Qg1+
34... Qg1+ 35. Ke2 Qc5 Black has an extra piece (for three pawns), and his ongoing attack will soon bear fruit.  )


Dennis Monokroussos is a FIDE master who has written about chess on his blog “The Chess Mind,” since 2005. He has been teaching chess for almost 20 years and for the last 10 years has been making instructional chess videos, which can be found at Between 1995 and 2006, he taught philosophy, including a four-year stint at the University of Notre Dame.