The super grandmasters are prepared. Should they encounter dressed-up, singing people in Düsseldorf in the coming days (which is very likely), "it's because our fifth season is starting now," explained Lord Mayor Stephan Keller at the opening of the WR Chess Masters. "But I guarantee you it will be quiet at the Hyatt Regency."
As the only participant, Vincent Keymer, who grew up near the German carnival stronghold of Mainz, is familiar with the festivities expected in Düsseldorf starting Thursday. Perhaps that's why he may manage to focus on the board more easily than the nine others? Keymer, after his "not so good result" in Wijk an Zee, wants to try to "make the most of the chances I get here."
Keymer, presented by host Wadim Rosenstein as a "talent of the century," does not feel pressured by public expectations at the home match near the river Rhine. Good chess players are their harshest critics anyway, Keymer explained. Even after supposedly very good games that others celebrate, they are rarely completely satisfied, he said. "I myself am the one who puts most the pressure one me."
At the opening press conference, Wadim Rosenstein emphasized Düsseldorf's status as an international business metropolis. Now, he said, his hometown should become the chess capital even more than it already is. Not only the more than 1000 members of the 16 clubs from the Düsseldorf area, but the chess world will follow what is going on at one of the strongest chess tournaments of the year. And they can already look forward to the Open Team World Championship starting on June 18 in Düsseldorf.
Ian Nepomniachtchi, the nominal favorite for the WR Chess Masters as the world number two, thanked Rosenstein for the opportunity to play a match with classical time control just before his World Championship match. "There are not too many opportunities for that." Nepomniachtchi himself is eager to see what performance he will be able to call up in the select Düsseldorf field.
"Nepo" does not see the upcoming World Championship match against the world number three Ding Liren as an obstacle to show his best chess in Düsseldorf. Of course, he will not reveal his World Championship preparation at the WR Chess Masters, but chess is rich in alternatives for getting the better of opponents at the Hyatt without having to resort to opening subtleties that Nepomniachtchi has prepared for the Chinese.
The first of nine rounds of the WR Chess Masters begins on Thursday, February 16, at 2 p.m. German time.