In the twosome for the world title, 23-year-old Boomstra was on fire. He won four out of ten games. The other six ended in a tie. ‘But apart from the second game, Roel was always ahead’, says his second and friend, Wouter Sipma, who also studies physics at the RUG.
The first four games in the confrontation were played in the Van Swinderen Huys on the Oude Boteringestraat. Boomstra managed to win the very first game in his hometown. In the other cities they played – Wageningen and The Hague – he actually won games on the first day they were played.
‘It could’ve been a coincidence, but a new location does mean a change of scenery. Roel adjusted to this quite quickly’, says Sipma. He was there when Boomstra analysed his games, but also distracted his friend. ‘Roel was very relaxed the entire tournament and always started his games with great confidence. At night we’d watch television together or played ping pong in the hotel room. I got him a miniature ping pong set just for this occasion. It helped him get his mind off things.’
Groenendijk was increasingly pushed into a corner as the tournament progressed. After Boomstra won the eighth game, which was played in the Upper House, the 18-year-old challenger was left disillusioned. In the games that followed, Boomstra only needed to win once or have two games end in a tie to claim the title.
Boomstra will received a substantial sum from the 30,000 euro jackpot and will be crowned world champion for a year. Moreover, he will play a twosome in the world championship of 2018, facing the 2017 winner or runner-up. Next year’s championship will be played by a larger group of draughts players.
Sipma may have helped Boomstra this year, but next year he will be one of his challengers. ‘I came in eighth during the WC last year, so now I would like to get my chance at first place.’ But first, he will be enjoying his friend’s victory: ‘It feels like a win for me as well. I know what he’s had to sacrifice to get this far. It is so well-deserved.’