By Marcel van der Veer
February 2023

Published in People

More on Chess, People

Throughout our lives interesting persons cross our paths and I am grateful to have been in their company. I would like to tell about some of my experiences, against the backdrop of two personal interests - chess and classical music.

Marcel van der Veer The picture on the right was taken some thirty years ago at the public defense of my PhD thesis. The gentleman signing the attendance register is Tabe Bas. Tabe was a stage, television and movie actor, and a baritone performing with the Dutch National Opera. He also performed in musicals as Anatevka. I met Tabe through my supervisor when I did my doctorate research at the University of Twente.

Colorful and cheerful Tabe lived his whole life in Amsterdam. Apart from being a performing artist, he was a formidable chess player. He was a friend of Hein Donner, the well-known chess grandmaster and journalist-writer. The word on the street was that Tabe had defeated him on a few occasions.

I had Tabe over at my place once for an evening of analysing chess problems. I was of course not in his league, but that did not bother my guest at all. He enjoyed intellectual conversation, and honored me by attending my PhD defense. The present in his left hand on the photo was of course a book on chess. It is a cherished part of my library.

Tabe was not the only chess player and artist who crossed my path. At the faculty where I worked, one of the researchers was married to a Hungarian. This family was close to chess grandmaster Lajos Portisch who was a contender to the world title for years, and a baritone like Tabe was. Hence one day I found myself in a small auditorium, enjoying Schubert's Winterreise performed by Portisch accompanied on the piano by chess master Hans Bouwmeester.

More often than not, meeting interesting persons enriches your life. Some are front runners, like the chess players in this post who in their game are kings where I am a mere pawn. Leaders generally enjoy conversing with people, or will gladly mentor talent. That person, in either role, might well be you - sometimes the king, sometimes a pawn.

Speaking of kings and pawns - the photo at the top of this post is one of Tabe's endgame studies. Both sides are left with a king and two pawns - white to move and win. This one took me a while, do you see it?

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