Düsseldorf: WR Chess beats direct contenders, leads

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
8/28/2023 – Two thirds into the first edition of the World Rapid Team Championship, WR Chess continues its dominating run. The team has a perfect 16/16 score after eight rounds, with Ian Nepomniachtchi, Jan-Krzysztof Duda, Praggnanandhaa and Hou Yifan (pictured) excelling on their respective boards. Freedom, the squad with the highest average rating, stands in sole second place 3 match points behind the leaders. | Photo: Mark Livshitz

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Pragg, Hou, Nepo and Duda shine

The sponsor of the World Rapid Team Championship, Wadim Rosenstein, put together a strong squad, captained by Jan Gustafsson and with Wesley So on the top board. Rosenstein himself, playing on the amateur board, has so far scored 5 out of 8 points. WR Chess has a perfect 16/16 score and has a 3-point lead over second-placed Freedom.

While So and Rosenstein could have done better on their respective boards, there are four players in the team that have more than made up for any shortcoming in the roster — i.e. Praggnanandhaa, Hou Yifan, Ian Nepomniachtchi and Jan-Krzysztof Duda.

Importantly, the leading team got to beat its two strongest contenders in rounds 5 and 6. First, they got the better of top seeds Freedom by a whopping 5-1 score, with wins for Duda, Pragg, Hou and Rosenstein. Immediately afterwards, they beat the all-Indian MGD1 squad. Losses by So and Rosenstein were compensated by the full points scored by Nodirbek Abdusattorov, Duda and Pragg for a final 3½-2½ score.

Freedom, led by Vishy Anand (5/7 so far in Düsseldorf), bounced back in style from the painful defeat in round 5 by winning its three remaining matches of the day. MGD1, on the other hand, beat Armenia in round 7 and lost to Ashdod Elit Chess Club in the final round of the day.

With four rounds to go, Freedom stands 3 match points behind WR Chess, while MGD1 is one of three teams sharing third place with 11/16 points — the Indian team is tied with Ashdod Elit Chess Club (Pavel Eljanov, Andrei Volokitin, Mariya Muzychuk) and Six-pack (Aravindh Chithambaram, Mohammad Nubairshah Shaikh, Priyanka Nutakki).

The 5-team group standing just behind on 10/16 match points includes the over-performing Chess Pensioners (28th seeds according to rating averages). The top scorers in the Pensioners’ squad are Vladimir Kramnik (6/8, 48 y.o.), Peter Svidler (5½/8, 47 y.o.) and Darmen Sadvakasov (5½/8, 44 y.o.).

Pavel Eljanov

Pavel Eljanov plays on the top board for Ashdod Elit Chess Club | Photo: Niki Riga

Jovanka Houska

Commentator extraordinaire Jovanka Houska is representing the Chess Pensioners | Photo: Niki Riga

Alexander Grischuk

The ever-photogenic Alexander Grischuk has so far scored 6/8 for the ASV AlphaEchecs Linz | Photo: Niki Riga

World Rapid Team Chess Championship 2023

Players of all ages in Düsseldorf | Photo: Niki Riga

Assorted highlights

by Klaus Besenthal

Fabiano Caruana

Fabiano Caruana (Kompetenzakademie Allstars) beat Ahmed Adly (Africa) in the fifth round | Photo: Niki Riga

Alexandra Kosteniuk

Alexandra Kosteniuk | Photo: Niki Riga

Vishy Anand

Vishy Anand | Photo: Niki Riga

Standings after round 8

Rk. Team  TB1 
1 WR Chess 16
2 Freedom 13
3 Team MGD1 11
4 Ashdod Elit Chess Club 11
5 Six-pack 11
6 ASV AlphaEchecs Linz 10
7 Germany and Friends 10
8 Armenia 10
9 Kompetenzakademie Allstars 10
10 Chess Pensioners 10
11 Berlin Chess Federation 9
12 Rishon LeZion Chess Club 9
13 Düsseldorfer Schachklub 1914/25 e.V. 9
14 Team Chessemy.com 9
15 Columbus Energy KingsOfChess Kraków 8

...36 teams


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.