In Berlin: Solidary simul for Ukraine

by ChessBase
3/1/2023 – A year into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Berlin Chess Federation organized an event to mark its support for the Ukrainian people. First, a simultaneous exhibition was given by Ukrainian grandmaster Zahar Efimenko. Then, an international panel discussed the consequences of the war for the chess world. Paul Meyer-Dunker reports. | Photos: Berlin Chess Federation

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A simul and a panel discussion

By Paul Meyer-Dunker

At 5 pm, we first opened with the greetings. It was a special pleasure to welcome the representative of the Ukrainian Embassy, Ms Alisa Podolyak. She expressed her gratitude for the manifestation of solidarity and pointed out the importance of continued support. The chairman of the Emanuel Lasker Society, Thomas Weischede, also welcomed the simul’s participants. I would like to take this opportunity to thank him for arranging the embassy contact and for his support in the run-up to the event! After our Vice-President Bernhard Riess explained the technical details of a simultaneous event, the games could finally begin.

The simultaneous event lasted almost three hours. Grandmaster Zahar Efimenko stood opposite 16 chess players who wanted to measure themselves against him. The longest journey taken by a participant was certainly that of Yannick Brätz, who made his way from Schweinfurt to Berlin.

Most of the games were fought out to the end. Zahar Efimenko not only had to defy strong opposition, but in the end had to surrender two half points and one full point! Andreas Modler managed the feat of winning the game of the day and scoring a ‘consolation goal’ for the Berlin delegation.


Zahar Efimenko took it more than sportingly, as his enjoyment was evident throughout the entire three hours!

Berlin Chess Federation

Berlin Chess Federation

The event was concluded with a panel discussion on the state of the international chess world one year after the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The high-calibre panel included:

  • International Arbiter Shohreh Bayat, Arbiter at the Women’s World Chess Championship and the Fischer Random World Chess Championship.
  • Grandmaster Peter Heine Nielsen, candidate supported by the German Chess Federation in 2022 as Vice-President of FIDE and, among others, coach of the World Chess Champion, Magnus Carlsen.
  • International Master Malcolm Pein, FIDE Delegate of the English Chess Federation, Vice-President of the ECU and member of the Global Strategy Commission of FIDE.
  • The discussion was moderated by me, Paul Meyer-Dunker, President of the Berlin Chess Federation.

All three guests had their own perspective on the chess world and thus enlivened the discussion. A discussion developed about Russian influence in chess as well as human rights in chess, using as an example the way Shohreh Bayat has been treated and the slogan of the Iranian Freedom Movement: “Women, Life, Freedom”.

The question of the separation of sport and politics and how much the chess world is actually connected to international politics was a topic. And finally, the question of the relationship between the World Chess Federation and the platform was raised.

Those who were not present on site or in the stream can see the recording of the 90-minute discussion on YouTube.

All in all, it was a successful event. My thanks go to Bernhard Riess and our equipment manager Ralf Ettel, without whose support the event could not have succeeded. Last but not least, on behalf of the Association, I would like to thank the Family Business and Politics Foundation and Ms Romy Rick, who made this event possible by allowing us to use their beautiful and prestigious premises in the heart of Berlin free of charge.

Peter Heine Nielsen

Peter Heine Nielsen

Malcolm Pein, Shoreh Bayat

Malcolm Pein and Shohreh Bayat


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