On May 13, one of the rebels in the world of draughts, Harm Wiersma, turned 70!
Harm Wiersma’s father, Chris, also a draughts player, introduced his son to draughts at the age of eight; in 1963, the boy entered the youth section of the Leeuwarden draughts club, and a year later moved to another city club, “Guysum”. In 1965 Harm Wiersma won the youth championship of Friesland, and soon the youth championship of the Netherlands. In 1967, at the age of less than 14, Wiersma became the bronze medalist of the Dutch Championship, passing ahead only seventeen-year-old Tony Seibrands and the experienced Pete Rosenburg. In early 1968, he won the Friesland Championship. In the same year, at the age of 15, he participated in his first World Championship in Bolzano (Italy). This year he becomes a master of sports. In 1970, Wiersma was the second in the national championship after Seibrands, a national, then an international grandmaster (the youngest in the history of international draughts); in 1972, in the absence of Seibrands, he became the champion of the Netherlands for the first time. Two months later, Wiersma is again content with “silver”, I will skip
In 1975 and 1976, Wiersma finished first in the Dutch Championship, both times leaving Rob Clerk in second place. In 1976, he became the world champion, having won the tournament in Amsterdam by himself. Clerk and Vyacheslav Shchegolev share second place, while Wiersma wins from both, as well as from Gantvarg and Kuperman.
In 1977, Wiersma was again the champion of the Netherlands, and in 1978 she won the European Team Championship in Tbilisi with the Dutch national team (where Seibrands and Clerk also played). At the end of the same year, at the individual world Championship in Arco (Italy), he shared first place in the main tournament with Gantvarg, and in the additional match that followed in early 1979, the Soviet grandmaster convincingly proved his superiority. But before the end of the year, Wiersma wins an equally convincing victory in a rematch and regains the title.
The year 1980 becomes unsuccessful for Wiersma: he concedes to Jannes van der Val the title of champion of the Netherlands, and Gantvarg, for the second time, the world draughts crown. Van der Val remains the champion of the Netherlands for the next year, but Wiersma manages to regain the title of world champion in a match with Gantvarg again. Then in San Paulo, van der Val wins the most important victory of his career, becoming world champion. Wiersma remains only the third, having also passed the Clerk ahead, despite the fact that representatives of the USSR were absent from this championship for political reasons.
1983 turns out to be a triumphant year for Wiersma. First, he wins the prestigious VOLMAC-trofee tournament in Amsterdam with the participation of all the strongest grandmasters playing at that moment, and then defeats van der Val in a rematch. Soviet representatives in the World Draughts Federation (FMJD) are protesting the result of the match because of the missed tournament a year ago, and as a result, in 1984, the FMJD decides: to give the Amsterdam tournament of 1983 retroactively the status of the World Championship. Thus, Wiersma actually became world champion twice in one 1983 year. In 1984, he defended his title in a match with another Soviet challenger, Vadim Virny: their match ended in a draw, which meant that Wiersma, the reigning world champion, retained the crown.
Shortly after the match with Virny, Wiersma disappeared from major draughts competitions for a long time, following the example of Seibrands, who had done it ten years earlier and continued to play only in team and minor tournaments until 1988. Until the early 1990s, he was mainly engaged in business, at the same time supplying the newspaper “De Telegraaf” with draughts analysis and conducting coaching work.[Wiersma’s return in 1992 was marked by a victory at the Dutch Championship and the division of second place at the World Championships in Toulon (France).
In December 1993 and January 1994, Wiersma met in a match with Alexey Chizhov, but lost two games without winning any with 18 draws; the match took place in three countries, Russia, Estonia and the Netherlands, and it was at its final stage, in his native Friesland, that Wiersma suffered both defeats. The next World Championship, in November 1993, also becomes “silver” for Wiersma, and two years later in Abidjan he failed to achieve a single victory in the qualifying group and was defeated by Zoya Golubeva, without making it to the final tournament.
In 1998, Wiersma once again became the champion of the Netherlands, sharing first place in the tournament with Gerard Jansen and defeating him in an additional match. The following year he won the European Championship, beating Seibrands for the second time in his career at a major tournament (the first time it happened at the 1992 World Championships). This success guaranteed him participation in the 2000 World Championship, but neither he nor Seibrands came to this tournament.
In 2001, Wiersma became the champion of the Netherlands for the eighth time. Having finished the main tournament on a par with Hans Jansen and having drawn three subsequent additional matches, he received this title as a result of a simple draw. In the future, Wiersma regularly participated in club competitions at the national and provincial level, in particular, winning the 2010/2011 club championship as part of the DamCombinatie Fryslân team, and the 2015/2016 championship with the Hijken DTC club.