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August 27, 2023

Four matches, four wins. Team "WR Chess" continued its run at the FIDE Rapid Team World Championship in Dusseldorf. On the second day they met the co-favourites. Some of the matches against world-class competition were close, all of them successful. After two out of three tournament days and eight out of twelve rounds, the team is now leading the table by three points. The world championship title is within reach.

FIDE Rapid Team World Championship in Dusseldorf
Former world champion Viswanathan Anand has made chess a national sport in India. Millions in India have now watched spellbound as Praggnanandhaa fought his way to the final against Magnus Carlsen in the World Cup. In Düsseldorf, Pragg was allowed to sit out and recover on the first day. On the second he had to play – and delivered. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/WR Chess

Round 5

WR Chess vs. Freedom 5:1

Praggnanandhaa! The 18-year-old's triumph in the World Cup in Baku triggered a new wave of chess enthusiasm in his native India. "Pragg" didn't go home after the four-week chess marathon. He joined the entourage of chess friends who traveled to Düsseldorf after the World Cup.


Nevertheless, Team "WR Chess" had to do without him on the first day of the Rapid Team World Championship. Coach Jan Gustafsson had decided to give Praggnanandhaa a day off after the hardships of the past few weeks. On the important second day of the tournament, when the WR team was clashing with the co-favourites, his help was required. Praggnanandhaa delivered convincingly.

Undoubtedly, Team "Freedom" was among the favourites: Former world champion Anand, rapid chess expert Dubov and last but not least Vidit, who can also look back on a successful World Cup. Not only did Team WR win and thus keep a competitor at bay, they also managed a 5:1 thrashing victory, after which word should have spread to the furthest corners of the chess world that the way to gold at this World Championship is via Team WR Chess .

Ian Nepomniachtchi and Wesley So opened the round with two draws without any suspicion. Hou Yifan, Praggnanandhaa, Jan-Krzysztof Duda and Wadim Rosenstein followed with wins.

FIDE Rapid Team World Championship in Dusseldorf
Coach Jan Gustafsson rotates his grandmasters. So not only for Ian Nepomniachtchi there are opportunities to take a break. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/WR Chess

Round 6

WR Chess vs. MGD1 3,5:2,5

The second match of the day against a co-favorite went more in line with the balance of power. "MGD1", an India selection, was an equal opponent. This also applied to the U2000 board, where Wadim Rosenstein, who had gotten off to a great start, suffered a defeat. When Alexandra Kosteniuk was unable to avoid an early repetition against Harika Dronavalli, the super grandmasters on the first four boards had to fight it out among themselves with a score of 0.5:1.5.

FIDE Rapid Team World Championship in Dusseldorf
Hou Yifan and Alexandra Kosteniuk prove to be team players: they prepare for the games together, and then Hou Yifan sweeps every opponent off the board with the white pieces, while Kosteniuk is invincible with the black pieces. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/WR Chess

After Jan-Krzysztof Duda secured the tie in a swinging game with Black, it was a matter of endgame skill on the remaining boards – and extremely close. Again Praggnanandhaa and Nodirbek Abdusattorov scored the crucial points.

Round 7

WR Chess vs. Germany and friends 3,5:2,5

"It won't be a picnic," said Almira Skripchenko before the match of the leaders against "Germany and friends", a team that is essentially made up of the German national team – with one exception: Vincent Keymer, number one in the German national team, plays in the WR team on the fourth board. There he met his national team and long-time Bundesliga club colleague Dmitrij Kollars who managed to outplay the German number one..

FIDE Rapid Team World Championship in Dusseldorf
Jan-Krzysztof Duda and Hou Yifan follow the wild duel between Wesley So and Alexander Donchenko. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/WR Chess

Instead of a picnic, a tight fight developed, the most spectacular game of which was seen on the first board, where Wesley So had to fend off a strong attack on his king after a piece sacrifice by Alexander Donchenko. The WR number one saved half a point. When the gun smoke had cleared on five boards, the score was 2.5:2.5.

Bluebaum vs. Abdusattorov, the final position.Bluebaum vs. Abdusattorov, the final position.

Nodirbek Abdusattorov became the match winner. In a complicated heavy piece endgame he triumphed over Matthias Blübaum. The final position is worth seeing: two queens against two rooks on the board, a rare sight in competitive chess.

Round 8

WR Chess vs. Kompetenzakademie Allstars 5,5:0,5

If it weren't for Manfred Schneider, Wadim Rosenstein might not have become a club player, and he wouldn't be supporting chess as a sponsor today and enriching it with his ideas.

20 years ago, Schneider was in charge of the chess group at the Koblenzer Gymnasium in Düsseldorf. One of his protégés: Wadim Rosenstein. Schneider guided the chess talent from his school chess group to SC Baumberg, the first club of today's CEO of the WR Group.

As a thank you, Rosenstein made it possible for Schneider and his former chess mentor Rainer Becker to play in a team with some of the best grandmasters in the world. Schneider and Becker form the "Kompetenzakademie Allstars" together with Fabiano Caruana and Levon Aronian. Nominally at least, they were considered a candidate to stop the WR team's winning streak.

FIDE Rapid Team World Championship in Dusseldorf
Old friends: Wadim Rosenstein against Manfred Schneider. Rainer Becker (2nd from right) acts as the captain of the Kompetenzakademie Allstars. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/WR Chess

Fate would have it that Rosenstein and Schneider met on the U2000 board. Rosenstein triumphed at the end of a tangled battle – by far not the only win for the WR team, whose victory was almost certain when Jan-Krzysztof Duda made it 3-0 with a win over Gukesh. The Pole crowned a brilliant defensive performance with an energetic counterattack. Only Nodirbek Abdusattorov, draw against Caruana, should lose half a point.

Meanwhile, Praggnanandhaa continues his chess fairy tale. Coach Gustafsson had him play in all four matches of the second day, and the young World Championship candidate thanked him with four full points. Gustafsson: "He just keeps going. Amazing, these boys."

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