The St. Albans Foreign trip this year was to Holland, from Thursday to Monday, Feb 16th-19th 2012.
We decided to renew our acquaintance with two Dutch clubs that the team played in February 2006, the De Uil ("The Owl") based in Hillegom and Het Probleem ("The Problem") based in Amsterdam. There were eight players in the team this year, seven of whom has played in 2006, with Ian Gooding being the additional player.
The team had the night-off from chess on Friday 17th, a rare luxury. There was also some free-time on Sunday before the return trip back to England, so there was a generous amount of free-time during the trip.
The base camp for this year's trip was the Hotel Hestia, within a few minutes walk from the popular Leidseplein. The Hestia is a sister hotel to the nearby Prinzen Hotel which the team had stayed at during the 2006 trip. The accommodation was adequate and the hotel staff extremely friendly and helpful.
The Het Probleem Club are based in central Amsterdam, west of the Vondel Park, about 2 km from the Hestia Hotel. The time limit for the Match was all the moves in 1 hour – 45 minutes for each player, allowing a playing session of 3.5 hours.
The Match result was a 6-2 win to St Albans, an improvement on our previous encounter (2006 Result: 4-3 win to SACC). When the team left the venue around two am our hosts were still at the bar drinking. I don't know how many of their players made it into work later that Friday morning...
The De Uil Club are based in Hillegom, about 30 km south of Amsterdam, situated in the bulb growing heartland of the Netherlands. The town is located on the rail line between Harlaam and Den Haag. The team met at the Amsterdam Central station and travelled by train to the venue together. After having lunch at Hillegom, the team made its way on foot to De Uil's venue, a Church hall.
The time limit for the Match was 36 moves in 90 minutes for each player, followed by an Allegro finish of 15 minutes each. This provided a playing session of 3.5 hours. The De Uil team matched St Albans closely. The Match result was a 4.5-3.5 win by De Uil. After the match, both teams made the short distance on foot to a nearby Chinese restaurant and enjoyed an excellent meal.