Awards Interview #5
On this occasion, dear reader, we have managed to catch up with someone even more elusive than the Scarlet Pimpernel, and I assure you that he resides in the natural clime of the Netherlands and not the “other place.” I will hazard a guess that our player is not yet even 18 years old, but started his love affair with Stratego at the beginning of his teen years. His rise to platinum was not meteoric, but shooting stars often burn out just as quickly as they appear. No, this young man is more like a comet, shining brilliantly among the vast star dusted skies, always returning on the course of his travels with admirers to greet him. At first, I thought that I was not going to get his statement regarding his feelings for being given the Talent of the Year award, (even going so far as to chase him down on another thread), and I do understand that he is rather busy with many other obligations, but it gives me tremendous pleasure to share with you his bounteous reply:
Master Mind is from the Netherlands
KMC: What is your reaction to receiving this honor, and is there any advice you would like to offer Major Nelson so he may become recognized with this award as you have been?
Master Mind: I'm very glad to be given this award. It really feels good and I want to thank everyone who has brought me to this level.
Now, I have the right to talk, so I briefly want to tell my own Stratego history, how I started and went forward. Six years ago, I often played Stratego with a classmate at school. He told me I should really go and play online at stratego.com. After a while, I tried it out and started my ‘career’ as online Stratego player. I played pretty often for about a year, but I was only 13 years old and afraid to lose. Hence, I didn't play ranked games, but I played loads of QA games. After a while, I made a new account, and only played ranked games there. With the old rankings still there, I managed to become a bronze marshal. Then I stopped playing Stratego for more than a year–I'm not sure why I did that actually.
Somewhere early in 2015, I returned and made a new account. I realised I had really forgot a lot of what I learned over a year ago, but slowly I managed to climb higher and higher, again. I began to play Max Roelofs often, and we talked a lot about the game. Suddenly, he asked me if I would like to attend a live tournament: the National Dutch Championships. At first I did not have any interest, but as I got more pleasure in the game, I asked my parents and they agreed. And so, I entered the live Stratego world.
I still remember how new everything was for me. I didn’t know anyone and it was fun to get to know everybody. To my surprise, I managed to win all my games (8/8), although I have to admit I was pretty ‘lucky’ in some games. My second tournament was the National Dutch Championships in 2016, where I ended up being #16, but I had my first draw against a top player in the pocket – Anjo Travaille (Garulfo). Although my parents did not like the tournaments at first, I persuaded them enough to allow me to get into six live tournaments in 2017–my awarded “Talent of the Year” year.
The first tournament I attended in 2017 was the team cup. I formed a team with Max Roelofs, Ruben van der Bilt (Don_Homer) and former world champion Vincent de Boer. With me playing at board #4, we ended up in 3rd place, which I found to be quite an achievement. The next tournament was in Schiedam, where I scored my first victory against a top player: Pim Niemeijer (Nortrom). Because I was so excited about that win, I lost the next two games, but I managed to get third place. Next, I played some great tournaments in Sliedrecht (#8) and Nijmegen (#11).
In October 2017, I won my first tournament: The Provincial Championships in Utrecht. You can probably imagine how happy I was, as this was a very big achievement for me. Luckily, Nortrom was the arbiter. A month later I participated in the Dutch Championships again, ending 9th place. Although I think I’ve achieved quite a lot, there is still a very long way to go for me to get to the top, which, of course, is my goal.
To get to the level I’m currently on, I needed the help of so many people. I want to thank everyone, both online and live players, for all their help they gave me by giving advice, motivation, and new insights. Sometimes you have those fantastic games in which the result doesn’t matter: you just know why you’re playing this game. My special thanks go to Don_Homer, who always motivated me to keep playing, keep learning, and improving. He was always ready to play a game, pointed out my mistakes, gave me tips, and compliments. Thanks a lot, Ruben!
When I first read this great post, I was really surprised to see I was given the Talent of the Year award. If I had to choose, I would have certainly thought about Major Nelson or maybe texaspete09. But anyway, I’m very happy with it. I’m sorry Major Nelson did not get it this year, but I’m sure he will get it another year. I think I can’t actually give him advice, because I think it is very likely he is better than I am, but I do not know him very well. Maybe I should challenge him for a ‘best out of 3’ series…
(end of reply)
When reading a statement of this kind, we yet again may observe a young man who feels proud of his achievements, but is without the arrogance that can undermine true character. He shares his victories graciously, he tries to learn from his experiences which end in a defeat, and he does not put forth the veil of pretense in an attempt to mask any kind of weakness–his candor is simply natural, as is he. He is modest in the genuine sense (as his respectful admiration of Major Nelson illustrate), he has already learned something of diplomacy, he is persuasive without alienating others, and his keen intellect comes through his voice, not loud or forced, but merely through his aura, the spirit we are fortunate enough to feel resonating from his very personal statement. In spite of his youth, we may learn much from this young man, not only about Stratego, but about the kind of mature behavior that earns respect, admiration, and makes friends.