No-castling chess back in Dortmund

by ChessBase
3/19/2022 – After the successful first edition last year, the No-Castling World Masters Tournament will be expanded in Dortmund in July 2022, as former world champions Vladimir Kramnik and Viswanathan Anand will be joined by Krishnan Sasikiran and local hero Daniel Fridman. Concurrently, the Deutschland Grand Prix, the NRW Youth Cup and two opens will take place at the massive festival set to kick off four months from now.

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Kramnik and Anand get company

Press release by Initiative Pro Schach

Dortmund Chess Festival 2022After the successful first edition last year, the NC World Masters will be expanded in Dortmund in July 2022: the two world chess champions Vladimir Kramnik and Viswanathan Anand will meet two more strong grandmasters in a double-round tournament, as they will be joined by the winner of the NC Sparkassen Online Open 2021 Krishnan Sasikiran (India) and local hero Daniel Fridman (Germany). The tournament will be dominated by the innovative chess variant in which castling is not allowed.

In addition, top German players will compete with international grandmasters in the Deutschland Grand Prix. Two open tournaments will return, Sparkassen Open A and B, so that every chess enthusiast will have the chance to participate. Together with the Sportland NRW Youth Cups, numerous events will take place from 16 to 24 July 2022 at the Westfalenhallen congress centre in the heart of the Ruhr region.

Event director Carsten Hansel said, eager to see the start of the 49th International Dortmund Chess Days festival:

After the successful kick-off last year, we are looking forward to a great chess event
in the tradition of the 90s. The Duel of the World Champions will be extended and
this year we want to offer the framework for large open tournaments again. Our goal
is to break the participation record from 1992 with 541 players.

It is a matter of concern for the entire team to welcome chess players from near and far to Dortmund and to give them the opportunity to experience some of the greatest
players of all times up close.

NC World Masters in focus at its second edition

After winning last year, 15th World Chess Champion Viswanathan Anand is aiming to defend his title in the innovative “No-Castling Chess” variant. In the double round-robin tournament, he will once again face 14th World Chess Champion Vladimir Kramnik. The field of participants will be expanded, as the winner of the Sparkassen Online Open 2021 in NC chess Krishnan Sasikiran and the Ruhr-based German Grandmaster Daniel Fridman will join the living legends.

“No-Castling Chess” is the brainchild of Vladimir Kramnik, who worked with the world’s leading artificial intelligence (AI) company DeepMind and its system AlphaZero to explore the possibilities of the variant. DeepMind will once again sponsor the No-Castling tournament.

Games played with the rule change thrilled players, spectators and players in the online open last year. Demis Hassabis, CEO and founder of DeepMind, said:

It was incredibly exciting to see world-class players like Vladimir Kramnik and Viswanathan Anand play the No Castle chess variant explored by AlphaZero. The games were fresh and original [with some incredible king travel]. I’m looking forward to watching this year’s expanded tournament in Dortmund and hope the games spark the imaginations of players everywhere.

Vladimir Kramnik, Viswanathan Anand

Vladimir Kramnik and Viswanathan Anand analysing their no-castling games

Games from the 2021 Kramnik vs Anand match


Deutschland Grand Prix and NRW Youth Cup

As a second event highlight, the "Deutschland Grand Prix" will be held, just like last year. Young German national players will compete with the extended world elite in classical chess.

Tournament director Andreas Jagodzinsky already has confirmations from last year's winner Pavel Eljanov (Ukraine) and the strongly performing runner-up Dmitrij Kollars (Germany). A total of seven invited grandmasters will compete in the German Grand Prix. The uneven number of participating players provides a special treat for the chess fans: the player who is not playing will be on-site as a co-commentator to provide live commentary on the games in progress. He will support main commentator Artur Jussupow (Germany). Jussupow is a great figure in national and international chess — as a top ten player, he has reached the semifinals of the World Championships three times and is considered one of the most popular chess trainers and chess authors worldwide.

With the Sportland NRW Cups, two other well-known formats from the previous year will be further developed. Young German talents will be given the opportunity to compete with strong titleholders and earn title norms. In addition to a 10-player round-robin tournament, a Sportland NRW Girls’ Cup will be held to provide special support for young female players. Both tournaments are supported by the state of NRW and its “Sportland NRW” initiative.

Pavel Eljanov

Ukrainian GM Pavel Eljanov during the 2021 Deutschland Grand Prix

Aiming for record number of participants at Sparkassen Opens

The association Initiative Pro Schach (IPS), with its chairman Stefan Koth and event director Carsten Hensel, not only wants to promote top chess, but also to place popular chess within the framework of the Sparkassen Chess Trophy. For this purpose, Sparkassen Opens A and B will return this year: both an open A-Open for players with a playing strength of 1900 DWZ/Elo and above, and a B-Open for players up to 1900 DWZ/Elo will take place in the congress centre of Dortmund’s Westfalenhallen.

Besides tournament director Andreas Jagodzinsky, Christian Jochmann has been appointed as tournament manager for the organisation of the open tournaments. As the organiser, IPS e.V. is aiming for a new participation record. At the legendary event in 1992 — the 20th International Dortmund Chess Days Festival — a total of 541 participants were playing at the same location in the various performance classes of the open tournaments: this year, with a goal of reaching 600 participants, a new record is being aimed for in Dortmund.

Sparkassen NC Online Open as event kick-off

In the run-up to the events on site, a large digital tournament will be offered for the second time: the Sparkassen NC Online Open. It will be accessible worldwide on the servers of as a no-castling chess event with short time controls. The tournament was very successful in 2021a and the winner Sasikiran played his way into the limelight — he is now invited to the NC World Masters. The event will give everyone a chance to try their hand at innovative no-castling chess variant and will provide further exciting insights into the format.

The tournament will be timed ahead of the over-the-board events at Westfalenhallen, likely
taking place at in May/June 2022. There will be three open preliminary tournaments played as Swiss opens. The best players of the preliminary rounds will
qualify for the grand final. Further details, including the exact timeline, will be announced by IPS in due time.

Livestreaming with top-class lineup

Since last year, not only the sporting concept has been revolutionised — also the entire communication has been intensified together with the aforementioned partners. After the success of the interview videos from last year, a high-class live commentary directly from the venue will be added in 2022.

Joining Jussupow, Sebastian Hensel as technical director and Patrick Zelbel as press spokesman will take care of the communication. The team will be supported by Fiona Steil-Antoni (Luxembourg). She is not only a strong chess player herself, but also an internationally renowned personality in chess as a commentator, streamer and blogger. Furthermore, the former blindfold chess world record holder Marc Lang and Nicolas Lagassé were also hired to enhance the team.

Sanitary measures for a safe event

The safety regulations in force at the time of the tournament apply, and we are bound by
them as organisers. Should these make it impossible for individual participants to take part, the organisation will of course refund the entry fee after informing the players before the start of the tournament. If players are travelling from abroad, they are kindly asked to observe the applicable travel regulations and, if applicable, the valid vaccination status.

All further measures will be developed in close cooperation with the venue. A high-performance filter and ventilation system will ensure that the air is changed several times an hour. Sparkassen Opens A and B will be played at different times, so that large distances between boards are ensured and participants are not seated too close to each other. IPS will keep interested players and visitors regularly informed about the requirements.

As a supporting programme, an evening with the participating stars and invited guests is planned for the rest day, Thursday, 21 July. Sabine Oecking has been appointed as the artistic director of the event.

Participation of Russians and Belarusians

In accordance with the practice of the International Chess Federation, the German Chess
Federation and other tournament organisers, chess players from Russia and Belarus are in principle entitled to participate in individual competitions. They will compete under the neutral flag of FIDE.

This applies to participation in the already announced open tournaments, the planned online open in NC format, the NC World Masters, the Deutschland Grand Prix and the NRW Youth Cups (for boys and girls). All competitions are played in accordance with the relevant practice of the World Federation.

IPS e.V., as organiser, will fulfil already existing contracts and agreements according to these standards, as long as German law does not conflict with this procedure. 

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