Wang, Shankland and Harikrishna head Prague Masters lineup

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
6/15/2023 – The fifth edition of the Prague Chess Festival will take place on June 21-30 at the Don Giovanni Hotel in the Czech capital. The Masters Tournament is a 10-player single round-robin with Wang Hao, Sam Shankland and defending champion Pentala Harikrishna (pictured) as the top seeds. The lineup also includes German star Vincent Keymer and David Navara who, like Shankland, has been invited to all five editions of the Masters. | Photo: Vladimír Jagr

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Ambitious players in a friendly atmosphere

Petr Boleslav, the chief organizer of the Prague Chess Festival, told Johannes Fischer in an interview conducted last year:

I like chess and all the things that are linked to chess: literature, film, art, sport and much more. And since chess fascinates me but I’m not a strong player myself, I became an organizer.

This statement encapsulates the spirit of the festival, which took a page from the Tata Steel Tournaments organizers by focusing on inviting a varied lineup, mixing young and experienced players in a number of closed tournaments. Creating a friendly atmosphere is also what makes it a success. 

Among the ten players invited to participate in the Masters this year is living legend Boris Gelfand. In a short interview from April, the Israeli had this to say about the festival:

I really like the atmosphere of this festival. Strong, interesting field, friendly people around. Great guests. Amazing city. I am happy to be invited!

Boris Gelfand, Jan-Krzysztof Duda

Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam playing the first move in Boris Gelfand vs Jan-Krzysztof Duda in the inaugural edition of the Festival (2019)

The ever-friendly David Navara, who is also the highest-rated player from Czechia and has been invited to all five editions of the festival, is also appreciative of the organizers:

In comparison to other international chess tournaments, what is the reputation of the Prague International Chess Festival among chess players?

The Prague International Chess Festival has an excellent atmosphere. (Which is the case at some other tournaments, but not all). In the main closed tournament, it’s interesting that usually about half of the players represent Novy Bor. We are colleagues and friends.

Is there any player you would like to play against on home ground?

Such people are plenty, I generally enjoy playing chess.

How does the home atmosphere affect you? Do you feel more pressure compared to tournaments abroad?

I usually don’t feel much pressure. Of course, it’s a little different in Prague (and in the Czech Republic in general) because as a home player, I have more friends, acquaintances, and fans.

How do you feel about the interesting concept of the festival, where besides you, the participants of the Masters tournament, other players from various tournaments, including young chess players, are playing in the main hall?

This is a great idea. For young players, it’s an opportunity to get a close look at grandmaster tournaments, and for the audience, this diversity is advantageous.

In line with this philosophy, the organizers put together a number of side events, including a solving competition and a series of peculiar open tournaments in different variants — chess960, Basque chess, bughouse, thematic, rapid and blitz.

All these take place in parallel to the three main events: the Masters, the Challengers and the Futures. This year, the Futures will count with Peter Leko as the tournament ambassador. The former World Championship challenger has prepared a simultaneous exhibition and a lecture for the young players.

David Navara

David Navara



  • Wang Hao (China)
  • Sam Shankland (United States)
  • Pentala Harikrishna (India)
  • Bogdan-Daniel Deac (Romania)
  • Vincent Keymer (Germany)
  • David Navara (Czech Republic)
  • Ray Robson (United States)
  • Haik Martirosyan (Armenia)
  • Boris Gelfand (Israel)
  • Thai Dai Van Nguyen (Czech Republic)


  • Benjamin Gledura (Hungary)
  • Erwin l’Ami (Netherlands)
  • Jergus Pechac (Slovakia)
  • Mateusz Bartel (Poland)
  • Christopher Yoo (United States)
  • Alexander Motylev (Romania)
  • Akash Ganesan (India)
  • Jan Vykouk (Czech Republic)
  • Richard Stalmach (Czech Republic)
  • Vaclav Finek (Czech Republic)

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Carlos Colodro is a Hispanic Philologist from Bolivia. He works as a freelance translator and writer since 2012. A lot of his work is done in chess-related texts, as the game is one of his biggest interests, along with literature and music.