Not playing a tournament for five years, only to end up in the middle of the table at the world championship. A great performance by drafts player Sven Winkel (41) from Zoeterwoude. His meeting with the world’s top was in Curaçao, although the performance space had little exotic in store: ‘A bare concrete warehouse, that’s all it was.’The resident of Zoeterwoude has been playing checkers since he was eight, but he never got further than a fourth place at the 2009 Dutch championship. His participation in the European Championships earlier this year suddenly resulted in eighth place , enough for the world championship. To think that his last serious tournament was five years ago.”After a somewhat difficult start, I finished in position eleven,” says Sven Winkel about the World Cup. Although that result is gnawing at him. One point more meant a significant increase in the rankings: to seventh place. He left behind participants from Ukraine, the Dominican Republic and France, among others.
Tournament space was hardly exotic
The final round was completed in Curaçao last Friday, but anyone who thinks that the tournament field was surrounded by palm trees, white beaches and a tropical sun is wrong. ‘The gaming room was more of a garage. An empty hall without windows,” he reflects.Air conditioners were in full blast, but they were occasionally turned off due to noise pollution. The tournament director, on the other hand, said the player lacked words to describe the fantastic atmosphere. ‘No, a bare concrete shed. That’s all it was.’Why Sven was suddenly allowed to participate in the World Cup? Because Russia was initially going to participate under a neutral flag, but the drafts association did not like that. Eighth place at the European Championships was therefore sufficient for a place at the World Cup for the Zoeterwoude resident. He was told this almost six months after the European Championship.Does participation in the world championship leave you wanting more? “No,” the checkers player previously said resolutely on Radio West. Even now afterwards you can’t get him to doubt you. ‘You really have to make too many sacrifices.’