Jan Smeets – The Dutch Grandmaster

Jan Smeets first opened his eyes on the world on the 5th of April, 1985. He was born in Leiden in the Netherlands and on his way to become a Dutch chess hero from an early age. His father taught him the game when he was just six years old and he soon became a regular on the national and international youth tournaments. World success continued to elude him but he kept breaking records in the domestic circuit becoming the under-14 champion in 1998, the under-16 champion in 2000 and the under-20 champion in the year 2002.

He gained the title of Grandmaster in 2004 and followed it up with one of the best year of his career in 2005. This was the year when he became third at Dos Hermanas and second at Wijk aan Zee’s Corus B tournament. He took fifth place in the World Junior Chess Championship in the same year. 2007 saw him finish second at the Essent Open and 2008 brought in more accolades as Smeets won the Dutch Championship and finished third in the Harvard Staunton Memorial Tournament. A fifth place finish in the EU Individual Open Chess Championship and a second place in Essent saw his ELO rating break the long awaited 2600 barrier.

As a person, he wanted to try being a full time professional chess player but could not adjust to the intellectual and brooding atmosphere all the time. He became a student of Economics at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam to move towards a more fun life. He also gained national honor when in represented Netherlands in the Dresden Olympiad. Holding a FIDE rating of 2669, he is aggressive in his battles on the board, a far cry from his general pleasant personality.