Around 1990, Jeroen Piket was labelled as Jan Timman’s successor in the Netherlands. In his twenties, he won various tournaments and was moving in the direction of the world top. For the Meacenas Joop van Oosterom this was reason to start supporting Jeroen. Van Oosterom organized matches against strong opponents for Piket, so he could learn from them. It was a bit like the KRO matches in the 1980s in which Timman came up against a top player every year.
In 1993, Jeroen’s first match against his teammate at Volmac Rotterdam, Viktor Kortchnoi, was lost 2-6. One year later, Piket defeated Polugaevsky (4½-3½) and Ljubojevic (6-2). When he convincingly won the strong Dortmund tournament in 1994, he seemed to be ready for the final hurdle to the world top. He was moving in on the world top-ten, but couldn’t make the final step. His matches also went less well after 1994. He tied with Dreev, Van Wely and Karpov, but lost against Timman, Shirov and Polgar.
In the match versus Timman in 1995, of course, the hegemony in Dutch chess was at stake. Although Piket had been ahead of Timman on the Elo list for some time, Timman had won the Donner Memorial with 7½ out of 11 a few weeks before the match, while Piket had ended last with three points. The match was a glorious victory for the ‘great-grandmaster’ and Timman could call himself the strongest chess player in the Netherlands for a little longer. The match was played in the Amsterdam Stopera, but it didn’t attract a big audience. A little commotion, like with Loek van Wely who was regularly teasing Timman in the press, would perhaps have attracted more spectators. However, both Piket and Timman were too polite people for that.
As a sub-top player, Piket made a decent living playing chess in the following years, but he started wondering how long he would be able to keep this up. Besides, he felt chess was becoming a drag. In 2003, at 34, he stopped with professional chess to become the private secretary of the billionaire Joop van Oosterom. And so he eventually did derive good profit from those matches! (ES)