Jan van Reek

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Jan van Reek (Netherlands, Oostvoorne *10.07.1945 - † 08.08.2015)

Important writer of endgame study books, strong chessplayer and chess composer of about 81 endgame studies


Drs. Jan van Reek was born at Oostvoorne in 1945, the son of a fruit grower. During his student days in Leyden, he studied physical chemistry for his graduation, and Böttcher, the study composer, was the professor. As a student he wrote short stories and travelled in four continents. After his graduation Van Reek carried out a survey on the social responsibility of natural scientists. Later he became a medical sociologist at the University of Limburg, and published in the international scientific journals about smoking, drinking, morbitiy and mortality.

About his career as a chess composer and chess player:

At the age of ten, Van Reek composed his first study in bed (Kb5, b6, a7 /Kb7  1.a8Q wins). Some years later, a memorial article about Henneberger inspired him to compose studies with desperado rooks. His first published study had a more prosaic theme and was awarded a third prize in 1969. Van Reek was tired of the time - consuming addictive aspect of composing and the lack of organization among composer in 1972. The time and place limitations and context of practical competitive play exerted its appeal, and the result was a rating of 2335 elo.

Van Reek as study editor:

Van Reek became study editor of Schakend Nederland in 1986. The presentation of originals for the informal tourney had to remain somewhat bare owing to limited space, but there were occasional articles for a wider public. His contacts with foreign composers inspired Van Reek to restart his work as composer. Old work was revised and new work was produced. New functions included becoming a member of the FIDE sub-comittee for the endgame study founded in 1988, and chairman of ARVES.

(Info taken from the book "Endgame study composing in the Netherlands and Flanders")

Jan van Reek  passed away in August 2015 in his adopted home in Ban Phu, Thailand. Before his emigration he had lived in Margraten, South Limburg, Netherlands.  He leaves his wife.   Source; Website ARVES

Obituary Jan van Reek (10vii1945 - 8viii2015)

by Harold van der Heijden

"Because I was moving house, one of my e-mail accounts was closed. The very last e-mail I sent from that account, on 9vii2015, was to Jan van Reek, congratulating him on his 70th birthday due the next day. I remember I was in a hurry but I am very glad that I sent him that e-mail. The news that Jan had suddenly passed away came as a great shock to me. He was my mentor (for endgame studies) and he was my friend. The following information was taken from Endgame Study Composing in the Netherlands and Flanders: Jan van Reek was born in Oostvoorne as the son of a fruit grower. He studied physical chemistry at the University of Leyden where one of his teachers was Professor Böttcher, not only a Dutch endgame study composer but also a famous scientist and a member of the Club of Rome). Jan contributed to EG’s Spotlight, and became editor of the endgame study column of Schakend Nederland in 1986. He also organized endgame study tourneys in En passant, the club magazine of the Maastricht Chess Club. He was a strong amateur otb player acquiring an elorating of 2335 and he also became involved internationally in endgame study composition as a member of the FIDE subcommittee for endgame studies. 

The first time I met Jan was in the Max Euwe Centre, then at the Dam in Amsterdam. In 1934 (during the golden decade of endgame study composition in the Netherlands) it was proposed (in Tijdschrift van de N.S.B.) for the first time to start an endgame study circle in the Netherlands. In the early 1960’s Cor de Feijter (from Deventer) made a second attempt. I possess a postcard with an invitation which De Feijter sent to composers in the Netherlands and Belgium. Almost three decades later, Jan van Reek tried again and invited several endgame  study enthusiasts to the Max Euwe Centre. During the meeting it was decided to give it a go and on Saturday 15x1988, in Café de Roode Leeuw, the Nederlands Vlaamse Vereniging voor Schaakeindspelstudie (NVVS), renamed in 1989 as the Alexander Rueb Vereniging voor Eindspelstudie (ARVES), was founded. Jan van Reek was appointed as its first president. Jan was very ambitious. During the first couple of years he published numerous books on endgame studies including several “forgotten” manuscripts by e.g. Selman, Kok and others. Probably his books (together with Henk van Donk) about Carel Mann (1991), and our historical book Endgame Study Composing in the Netherlands and Flanders (1992) are the highlights from this period. Jan also introduced a new genre: The Ultramodern Endgame Study, which was also the title of his first ARVES book (1989). An ultramodern endgame study features at least three phases: introduction, main play 1, main play 2. It has not gained much recognition, but from time to time one sees some great examples, see e.g. Østmoe’s original in this issue. Professionally, Jan was a medical sociologist at the University of Limburg until 1995 or so, publishing at least 37 scientific papers on smoking and alcohol consumption (especially among adolescents). He often told me that he was very proud of his work and that he was very happy with the recent measures in the Netherlands, raising the minimum age for purchasing alcoholic drinks to 18. As a matter of fact, Jan considered this almost to be his achievement because he initiated the discussion. But that was Jan: modesty was not his strongest quality. Unfortunately, in 1991/1992 a crisis broke out in ARVES. Jan had already been succeeded as president, but was more or less forced to quit active membership. The late Lex Jongsma in his chess column in the largest newspaper of the Netherlands (De Telegraaf), defended him fiercely. Although I do not know (or remember) all the details, it seems to me that the whole matter was primarily due to bad communication and stubbornness (also by Jan). After it became evident that EG could be terminated (and after some help by me for EG102-1 and EG102-2), Jan van Reek and Harrie Grondijs took over editorship of EG but after they stepped down from ARVES, AJR had to take over again as chief editor (see EG111). Grondijs and Van Reek established Stichting Eindspel (STES) and published a journal (STES journal) and many books. During those years, I often visited Jan in Margraten (in the province of Limburg; the most southern and remote part of my country) and used to take with me in my car the late Bas de Heer who lived in a city nearby. Sometimes these trips were quite exciting as Bas suffered from night blindness and still insisted on pointing out the shortest way back from Jan’s house via very small roads that he took when he travelled to Jan by bike. Bas, as an expert librarian, spoke about (future!) endgame study collections during ARVES’ founding meeting and inspired me to start such a collection the next day. In his house, Jan invited many endgame study composers. I remember e.g. meeting Oleg Pervakov, Nikolai Kralin and Andrey Selivanov there. Jan was my mentor in endgame study judging. Together we did the Moscow-850 AT (1997) and quite a few Schakend Nederland tourneys. As a result I soon was awarded the title of endgame study judge for endgame studies. Jan had a certain provocative style: he organized the first world (STES) championship (1997). I was involved (anticipation vetting), and do remember that this caused quite some debate in the international composition world. Probably, this initiative by Jan has led to the WCCI tourneys. Jan continued to publish many books: not only about endgame studies (STES), but also about world champions and other strong players (always trying to refer to endgames or endgame studies) and ancient chess tournaments, whose games he liked to analyse by computer.

By the end of the 2000’s he married a Thai lady, Tuk. They lived in Jan’s house in Margraten for some years then moved to Ban Phu, Thailand, in October 2014. Jan had some problems dealing with the high temperatures (and humidity) but seemed to have gotten acquainted with the circumstances when he wrote me in his e-mail 9vii2015 announcing that he would reach 70 the next day. During the last quarter of a century, Jan and I had become friends. Before he moved to Thailand, he used to phone me every couple of months. We often spoke for an hour or more. He was not the easiest person to deal with but he has contributed significantly to our endgame study community. Dear Jan, on behalf of EG’s readers I thank you for your significant contribution to our art and also for what you did for me."

Source: EG (Endgame study magazine) 202 October 2015

Selected Publications

Jan van Reek, Henk van Donk (1991). Carel Mann. ARVES 
Jan van Reek, Henk van Donk (1992). History of endgame study composing in the Netherlands and Flanders. ARVES
Jan van Reek (1996). Hypermodern strategy. Chess Digest Inc., Dallas. ISBN 0-87568-282-0. Review by Jeremy Silman
Jan van Reek (1997). Max Euwe - practical strategy. STES, Margraten
Jan van Reek (1997). Think strategically. 64 parts of Euwe. STES, Margraten
Jan van Reek (1997). Strategy in Chess. Chess company Fruth, Unterhaching
Roberto Cifuentes, Maarten De Zeeuw, Jan van Reek (1997). Secrets of Chess Endings. ICCA Journal, Vol. 20, No. 4
Jan van Reek (1998). Mikhail Botvinnik. Schaakspelers as Eindspelkunstenaars. Deel 7. Stichting Eindspel, Margraten
Jan van Reek, Jos Uiterwijk, Jaap van den Herik (1998). Planning a Strategy in Chess. ICCA Journal, Vol. 21, No. 3
Jan van Reek, Jos Uiterwijk, Jaap van den Herik (1999). Two Strategic Shortcomings in Chess Programs. ICCA Journal, Vol. 22, No. 4
Jan van Reek, Jos Uiterwijk, Jaap van den Herik (2000). The Innovated Art of Chess Analysis. ICGA Journal, Vol. 23, No. 4
Jan van Reek, Jos Uiterwijk (2001). The Match Van der Wiel vs. REBEL CENTURY 3.0. ICGA Journal, Vol. 24, No. 1 » Van der Wiel, Rebel
Jan van Reek (2000, 2002). Grand strategy. (supported by Boris Spassky) New In Chess
Jan van Reek, Jos Uiterwijk (2003). The Match Bareev vs. Hiarcs X. ICGA Journal, Vol. 26, No. 1 » Bareev versus HIARCS 2003
Jan van Reek, Jos Uiterwijk (2004). The Complete Chess Match Stellwagen vs. Baramidze. ICGA Journal, Vol. 27, No. 2
Jan van Reek, Jos Uiterwijk (2005). The Complete Chess Match Stellwagen vs. Van Wely. ICGA Journal, Vol. 28, No. 2



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