This week’s episode of the New In Chess Podcast features an interview with Dutch grandmaster Loek van Wely.

During the peak years of his career, “King Loek” boasted a FIDE rating of 2714, won six Dutch national championships in a row, and reached the quarterfinals of the Candidates tournament. Now in his fifties, he continues to play at a healthy 2600-level and has expanded his work as a trainer and second, working with world-class players like Gata Kamsky and Vladimir Kramnik early on. In 2019, Loek embarked on a political career in The Netherlands, becoming a senator for the alt-right Forum For Democracy party.

Together with Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam, Loek looks back on his careers in chess and politics and gives his two cents on the upcoming Candidates tournament, among many other things!

00:00 – 01:15 Intro
01:16 – 01:40 Being excited about the podcast
01:41 – 02:52 Playing in the German cup, experiencing some fatigue
02:53 – 04:40 His fondest (chess) career memories
04:41 – 05:24 Turning his prize money into a BMW 5-series , crashing it
05:25 – 07:54 Winning numerous open tournaments, eight Dutch championships
07:55 – 10:30 Getting deported from the United States for having the wrong visa
10:31 – 12:00 When and why he got the nickname King Loek, being one of the first online chess players
12:01 – 14:00 His character, challenging himself, rivalries with other players
14:01 – 16:55 Dirk Jan witnessing his bloody football matches with Magnus in Wijk aan Zee
16:56 – 18:02 Loek’s love of placing bets
18:03 – 23:56 His remarkable career switch into politics
23:57 – 27:27 Joining the controversial Forum For Democracy party, leaving because of the weird conspiracy theories of some of its members
27:28 – 30:15 Where does Loek stand politically?
30:16 – 32:14 Similarities and differences between chess and politics
32:15 – 34:31 Does Loek have any regrets about his political career?
34:32 – 35:04 AD BREAK
35:05 – 40:51 Being a second for Gata Kamsky in preparation for the latter’s 1996 World Championship match against Anatoly Karpov, Gata’s crazy father Rustam
40:52 – 45:52 Seconding for Kramnik and Topalov, Loek’s expertise with early engines such as Rybka and Fritz
45:53 – 53:30 His predictions for the 2024 Candidates tournament, the evolution of engine analysis and preparation, not seeing Pragg’s potential early on
53:31 – Outro