Boomstra quits his professional career

In 2022, one of the most notable events in the world of draughts was the announcement of current world champion Roel Boomstra to retire from his professional career as a draughts player at the young age of 29.

Roel Boomstra (photo by Geb Kos)
Roel Boomstra (photo by Geb Kos)

Boomstra has won the world title on three occasions, all in matches. In 2016, he defeated Groenendijk with a score of 16-8, and in 2019 and 2022 he won against Shvartsman with scores of 13-11, 3-3, 4-2, 3-1 and 13-11, 7-5, 3-3, 2-0, respectively. It is worth noting that the latter scores were accumulated from normal, rapid, blitz, and superblitz games in an attempt to make the matches more exciting.

Boomstra is widely considered to be one of the strongest draughts players of all time, particularly in matches, where he was nearly unbeatable. This was due to his exceptional preparation and extensive knowledge of different game types, which often gave him a significant advantage over his opponents during the opening of the game. The only major title that Boomstra has not yet achieved is winning a world championship tournament; he has placed third on several occasions but has never quite managed to claim the top spot. It is unlikely that he will ever compete for the world title again, which means he will not be included in the list of most successful players alongside Alexey Chizhov (10 world titles), Alexander Georgiev (10 world titles), and Harm Wiersma (6 world titles).

Boomstra's decision to retire was influenced by the fact that Russian players are currently excluded from the world championship cycle. The world title has traditionally been a contest between Dutch and Russian players, and without Russian competitors, the championship loses some of its significance. It is also unfortunate that we will never see a match between Boomstra and Georgiev, which was scheduled to take place in 2020 but did not occur for reasons previously explained on this website.

Below is a representative game between Boomstra and Chizhov from the Confederation Cup 2011 in Albena, Bulgaria.

Alexey Chizhov - Roel Boomstra 1-1 (9-10-2011)

1.33-29 17-21 2.39-33 21-26 3.44-39 11-17 4.50-44 7-11 5.32-28 16-21 6.38-32 11-16 7.42-38 6-11 8.29-23 18x29 9.34x23 20-25 10.40-34 15-20 11.44-40 10-15 12.47-42 5-10 13.31-27 20-24 14.34-29 15-20 15.40-34 10-15

diagram 1

This explosive position has occurred several times before. The spectacular game Van der Wal - Mamina N'Diaye during the world championship 1984 proceeded as follows: 16.27-22 1-6 17.23-18!? 12x23 18.29x18 24-30 19.35x24 20x40 20.45x34 2-7 21.36-31 14-20 22.49-44 19-24 23.31-27 and the game later ended in a draw.

16.49-44 1-6 17.36-31?!

This move was played before in the game Agafonow-Tkasjenko, Kiev 1988. This game continued with 24-30 18.35x24 19x30 19.23-18 13x22! 20.27x7 8-12 21.7x18 21-27! 22.32x12 11-17 23.12x21 16x47 24.37-31 26x37 25.42x31 and white managed to make a draw.


Finally the players are on unchartered territory. But as it later turned out, for one of the players this was not really the case.

18.44-40 2-7 19.41-36 17-22! 20.27x18 13x22 21.28x17 11x22 22.46-41 19x28 23.32x23

The game is becoming extremely complicated, and I remember that Chizhov was using lots of time during this phase of the game.


The only move, but it turns out to good for black.

24.34-30 25x34 25.39x19 9-13 26.40-34 13x24 27.33-28!

Here white had absolutely no choice. After 27.34-30? black can simply play 7-11 28.30x19 12-18 29.23x12 14x34, and other moves are even worse.

22x33 28.31x22 3-9

diagram 2

A unique position has emerged with a black piece on 33 in the heart of the white center. After the game I witnessed the analysis of both players. And I was stunned by a remark that Boomstra made. If I remember correctly it was in this position that Boomstra mentioned he had studied it before. And even though he had forgotten about the exact variants in this position, he still remembered the conclusion: this position was perfectly playable for black. An unbelievable demonstration of how deep the preparation of Boomstra can sometimes go.


After this move the game evolves into a still interesting, but much more ordinary position. Chizhov later regretted that he didn't play 29.22-18! here to keep the tensions on the board. Now after 8-13? white plays 30.45-40! 13x22 31.23-19! 14x23 (not 24x13? 32.34-30 33x24 33.30x28 W+) 32.29x27 and black loses the outpost on 33. The most sensible reaction for black is 33-39 30.34-30 24x33 31.43x34 33-39 32.34x43 20-25 and after 34.36-31 25x34 35.23-19 12x23 36.19x28 16-21 and white has a minor advantage.

33-39 30.34-30 24x33 31.43x34 20-25 32.22-17 12x21 33.32-27 21x32 34.37x39 9-13 35.30-24 14-20

diagram 3


An easy way to make a draw was 36.23-18 20x40 37.18x9 40-44 38.39x50 10-14 39.9x20 15x24. Now once more a highly unusual situation will appear on the board.


Boomstra accepts the challenge. A less eventful continuation was 10-14 37.39-34 14-19 38.23x14 20x9. Then white has a positional disadvantage due to the inactive pieces on 35 and 45, but undoubtedly the position would still be a draw.

37.23-19 6-11 38.41-37

White could also opt for 38.45-40 20-25 39.40-34, but even then the position turns out to be about equal.

11-17 39.42-38 7-12 40.48-43 12-18 41.38-32 8-12

This forces a draw, but this was inevitable. Despite the explosive situation on the right side of the board, none of the players has a serious opportunity to win the game.

42.19x8 12x3 43.29-23 30x28 44.32x21 16x27