Almost half-time at the WR Chess Masters. After an eventful first few days, host and organizer Wadim Rosenstein joined Yasser Seirawan in the WR Chess Studio to reflect on the first half of the tournament and its side events.
The conversation between the two (edited for length and clarity):
Wadim, how's it going so far?
We have received friendly, encouraging feedback, for which I would like to express my gratitude. I have even received a few gifts from the children who have been guests, and the players really like it here, which makes me proud. In this respect: So far, it's going fantastically.
Children are part of the program almost every day. On Sunday, for example, children from Ukrainian refugee families were guests. And there is still a lot to come. Tell me about it.
The WR Chess Juniors starts now, the biggest event besides the Super Tournament. We had written to more than 190 federations inviting their best talents to participate. We held the preliminaries online, and now we welcome the winners in Düsseldorf. They play a tournament here, and they get training from luminaries like Boris Gelfand.
Why all these junior and children's events?
Because I remember how great it was for me as a youngster to see Viswanathan Anand and the other stars at the board at the Dortmund Chess Days. Now I want to give young players the same opportunity.
With Ian Nepomniachtchi and Andrey Esipenko, you invited two Russians. You must have known that you would be criticized for that.
As if I were the only one who invites Russian players. Ian played in Saint Louis in the USA, Andrey plays in the German Bundesliga. Here they both play under FIDE flag, so I don't see any issue in that.
The city supports the WR Chess Masters politically. The mayor came to the opening and has taken over the patronage. He even played bughouse with Vincent Keymer.
We were very happy that Dr. Stephan Keller was here, as well as NRW Finance Minister Dr. Marcus Optendrenk, both good chess players.
Chess City Düsseldorf...
16 clubs, more than a thousand organized players. And a lot of chess tradition, when I think of the world championship match in 1908 Lasker-Tarrasch. We want to continue and develop this tradition. Another building block besides the WR Chess Masters will be the World Open Teams Championship in Düsseldorf in June, the first Team World Championship in history, in which the participants can put together their own teams: six boards, four open, one for women, one for amateurs under 2000 Elo. A kind of chess Champions League, endowed with 250,000 euros. I hope that the format will be well received and that the 2023 edition is just the beginning. There are already a number of inquiries.
Wadim, how does your chess story go?
I started as a six-year-old. I came to my first club via the chess group in the Koblenz high school. And then suddenly I was a chess player, it happened very quickly. At that time, I played one tournament after the other, also because of the atmosphere. I particularly remember the competitions in the youth Bundesliga, where as a twelve-year-old I had the opportunity to be part of a team with the older boys and to learn from them. The mutual support, the strong company, that was a great time. Our team spirit from back then reminds me of what we experience here at the WR Chess Masters: very different people from numerous countries, yet one family. Being part of a good team makes everyone stronger.
In Saint Louis I found out your passion is bughouse.
Yes, it always has been. It probably has to do with the fact that I am much better in bughouse than in regular chess. In Saint Louis, I was surprised to see how widespread bughouse is at the absolute top. I played with Hikaru, Ian, Alireza and the other big guys – wow. From that came the idea to organize a real bughouse tournament and broadcast it. It must be exciting for the public to see how the best chess players in the world do in bughouse. The bughouse tournament at the end of the WR Chess Masters is likely to be the first ever live bughouse event with super grandmasters.