NC Masters in Dortmund: Anand starts with a win

by André Schulz
7/15/2021 – Wednesday afternoon "No Castling" chess premiered at the highest level in Dortmund's Westfalenhalle. In the first game of their "No Castling" match Vishy Anand and Vladimir Kramnik engaged in an uncompromising fight in which Anand eventually had the better of it. In the Deutschland Grand Prix Dmitrij Kollars and Pavel Eljanov share the lead with 2.5/3 each, but the big news of the day was the torrential rain that currently is causing havoc in large parts of Germany and also affected the players in the Westfalenhalle.

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No castling, but entertaining chess

Vishy Anand and Vladimir Kramnik started the "NC Masters", the "No Castling" match in Dortmund. With this match the two world champions want to promote a change in the rules of chess. They hope that the games become more entertaining and exciting if castling is not allowed.

If all the games of the match will be as exciting as the first, then the experiment will be a success.


Sagar Shah and Amruta Mokal commented the game live

Here's what the players had to say after the game:

The ten participants of the Deutschland Grand Prix, in which castling is allowed, have a tight schedule. On three of the six days they have to play double rounds - one game in the morning at 10 am, one game in the afternoon at 4 pm. Knowing the endgame and the opening well might not be enough when you lack stamina. After the kick-off on Tuesday, 13 July, the first double round followed on Wednesday.

After three rounds Pavel Eljanov and Dmitrij Kollars lead with 2.5/3. After winning against Keymer in round 1, Kollars drew against Georg Meier in round 2, and then won again in round 3, this time against Mateusz Bartel. Pavel Eljanov won against Andreas Heimann in round 1 and against Vincent Keymer in round 2 but then slowed down with a draw against Meier.

After starting with two losses, Keymer had to play against Rustam Kasimdzhanov on Wednesday afternoon. However, the game lasted only 16 moves – then Kasimdzhanov apparently resigned in a slightly worse position.

Currently, large parts of Germany suffer from torrential rain and were declared as disaster areas. Dortmund is also affected. 

Rain also leaked through the wall of the Westfalenhalle and then started to drip down on the floor, which irritated some of the players. Kasimdzhanov first turned to the arbiter Andrzej Filipowicz and then to tournament director Andreas Jagodzinsky to complain about the constant noise. When the arbiter declared that the noise would be "acceptable" Kasimdzhanov apparently decided to resign his game against Keymer and to leave the hall. However, he did not leave the tournament but was back at the board for round 4.

Standings after round 3





Dmitrij Kollars after winning against Vincent Keymer

Ruslan Ponomariov after his game against Georg Meier

Translation from German: Johannes Fischer


André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.
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Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 7/17/2021 12:34
Bungle, when there is a fire, or an earthquake, or a power outage, you may expect some action by the organisers. In less severe situations, you take measures when they are possible - and not worse than the problem. If you accommodate Kasimdzhanov, other players (also from adjoining competitions!) have the same rights. That will produce a more disturbing and possibly impossible situation. Stopping the play would then be the logical solution. But that is what you do when the Ruhr starts streaming through the hall.
You can't hold the organisers responsible for extravagant situations like this. You can however expect some understanding from the players.
Bungle Bungle 7/17/2021 06:40
@Frits such a comment is illogical and disconstructive. The tournament wasn't cancelled, and a player has a right to ask for help. To do so is hardly complaining at a natural disaster, and the source of a distraction doesn't render an official any more or less toothless to help his players. We are 50 years on from Fischer having the same struggles yet no further forward with acknowledgement of this even at a top level.
Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 7/16/2021 10:00
Bunge, maybe Kasimdzhanov wasn't aware of it (you neither?) but the rain caused problems in Germany incomparable to a bit of noise.
Bungle Bungle 7/16/2021 03:19
Waiiiit wait wait wait... "When the arbiter declared that the noise would be "acceptable" Kasimdzhanov apparently decided to resign his game against Keymer and to leave the hall." WOW. What sort of person wants to completely ignore a legitimate request for help like that? That's bonkers! And that isn't some weak player talking, it's a former FIDE WC and 2700club member! That's gotta be an absolute disgrace, it could even affect the overall standings.
chessgod0 chessgod0 7/15/2021 04:03
@ Frits Fritschy

Agree completely. "No-castling" is a small but meaningful change with outsized ramifications on the game---an interesting/entertaining/playable variant.
albitex albitex 7/15/2021 02:15
but the AlphaZero comments where are it?
Keshava Keshava 7/15/2021 01:56
Since few professionals are likely to give up classical chess altogether, this 'no castling chess' will generate even more computer variations to memorize.
Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 7/15/2021 12:14
I really like that no-castling game. It isn't that different from classical chess, certainly the classical chess of the last 15 years, where playing your g- or h-pawn early has become quite common. This in contrast to random chess, which is funny to play, but is also throwing away hundreds of years tradition, making it look alien (and as such produces ghastly mistakes). Not to speak of making stalemate count as a win, which is a completely different game.
Of course, with no-castling, all opening books and cd's will have to be rewritten, which will be welcomed by many, and is (not unimportant) very beneficial for the producers of such material...