Dannemann World Championship: Road to Brissago

by ChessBase
9/24/2004 – It took us nine hours to get there, but it was worth it. We have now taken residence on the banks of the magically beautiful Swiss Lago Maggiore, where the match between Vladimir Kramnik and Peter Leko is about to begin. Here is an illustrated report, including video footage, of the venue and the openings ceremony.

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The Dannemann World Chess Championship begins

By Frederic Friedel

Getting there is half the fun, we are told of many areas of human endeavor and recreation. This unfortunately this was not completely true about our trip to Brissago, which started with a four a.m. wake-up in Hamburg, Germany. The next steps: five a.m. departure, six a.m. arrival at the airport, seven a.m. flight to Zurich, eight-thirty arrival there. Then the arduous part starts.

After Zurich it was trains, all the way across Switzerland, down to the Italian border

Beautiful scenery, fields and mountains, a premonition of things to come

Four stops, four changes of trains, until we reach Locarno – we are getting close

For the onward journey from Locarno we use a transportation facility known as a "bus", an expression obviously borrowed from computer technology.

Arrival in Ascona, where we are going to stay. A banner tells us why we are here.

The hotel room, directly overlooking the lake Lago Maggiore. ChessBase web master and my sidekick on this journey, Ben Bartels, studies the instruction manual of our spectacular abode.

And suddenly we know what this place is all about. The view. My god the view!

The previous picture was to the right, this one is when you look left. It's everywhere.

The hotel pool, just twenty paces from our rooms.

The hotel gardens with permanent sunshine and luscious tropical vegetation

These cute little guys scamper around everywhere.

The city of Ascona, on the banks of Lago Maggiore

Brissago, just a few miles away from Ascona. The Centro Dannemann building is clearly visible from our hotel room.

Brought to you by the miracle of long-lens digital photography: Centro Dannemann on the banks of the Lago Majore

Waiting for us in the hotel room: a Dannemann backpack, filled with a press map, pen, sample cigarettes, a lighter and a bag of rice (we'll explain when we find out). And an invitation to the press conference at the start of the world championship.

Vladimir Kramnik, Hans Leusen, President of Dannemann Brazil, Peter Leko

GM Joel Lautier speaks on behalf of the Association of Chess Professionals

How did his preparations go? "Naturally, I cannot tell you the details. I am satisfied the way my preparations went. But even if I wasn't satisfied I probably wouldn't tell you that."

Peter Leko told us that the beauty of this part of Switzerland posed a danger to him. "You very easily start to feel that it is a holiday. You go for walks up the mountains, swim, enjoy the scenery and slowly forget that you are here for work, deadly serious work."

Click here for a video report of the press conference 

After the press conference a reception. State Councilor of Tessin Marina Masoni speaks

Players and dignitaries on the stage where on the next day the games will be played

A musical interlude with a Russian trio, who played Hayden and (gasp) Schnittke

The audience at the opening gala reception

Afterwards a sumptuous dinner, hosted by the sponsors in the Centro Dannemann

This banquet had to be seen (and tasted!) to believe

Spot the great chess player enjoying himself at the buffet

Correct! It is the 12th world champion Anatoly Karpov, on a 22-hour visit to Brissago

A Brazilian cigar maker shows us how the very best ones are produced – fully by hand, in a process that takes about fifteen minutes per cigar. We each got a sample. What a shame we do not smoke...

And thus the day ends, the Dannemann World Chess Championship will soon be under way. New reports will follow at regular intervals. If we can keep out of the swimming pool.

Contacts and further information

Rolf Behovits
Press Officer World Chess Championship
Via Ruggero Leoncavallo
CH-6614 Brissago


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