WR Chess becomes first World Rapid Team champion!

by André Schulz
8/29/2023 – The WR Chess team went into the third and final day of action at the first-ever World Rapid Team Championship with a 3-point lead and had little trouble keeping the top spot in the standings. Two wins and two draws were enough to get a clear victory. Freedom and Team MGD1 finished second and third respectively. | Photo: FIDE / Niki Riga

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Clear winners

The WR Chess team won the World Rapid Team World Championship, which was held from Saturday to Monday at the Düsseldorf Rheinterrassen.

The ‘WR’ in WR Chess stands for the Düsseldorf entrepreneur Wadim Rosenstein. He is the initiator of this new tournament, as he sponsored it with his company WR Logistics and played along himself. This was possible due to the special rules for putting together the teams. Of the six boards in a team, one had to be occupied by a woman and one by a recreational player who was not allowed to be rated over 2000 Elo in any FIDE list.

Former world champion Mariya Muzychuk competed for Ashdod | Photo: Dariusz Gorzinski

Wadim Rosenstein was once an amateur player in his youth, but then stopped playing tournament chess and now took on the task of playing for his own team.

Wadim Rosenstein | Photo: Dariusz Gorzinski

All the other boards were filled with top players, with Wesley So, Nodirbek Abdusattorov, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Jan-Krzysztof Duda, Praggnanandhaa, Vincent Keymer and former world champions Hou Yifan and Alexandra Kosteniuk taking turns on the women’s board.

Team WR Chess with Vincent Keymer | Photo: Dariusz Gorzinski

Twelve rounds of a Swiss open were played over three days in Düsseldorf. The time control for the games was 15 minutes plus 10 seconds per move. The total prize fund was 250,000 euros. The winning team received 100,000 euros. 

There was also a special prize for the best team below an average rating of 2400, worth 12,500 euros. Three hundred participants — professionals, club players and strong amateurs — took part in the competition.

With eight wins in the first two days of play, Rosenstein’s WR-Chess demonstrated its superiority and went into Monday’s last day of action with a 3-point lead. Rating-wise, the team Freedom was the favourite, with Viswanathan Anand on the top board and a slightly higher rating average. Freedom had lost a point on the first day against the strong team MGD1, mostly made up of Indian players, and in the first round of the second day of play against WR Chess they lost surprisingly by a 1-5 score.

On the third day of play, WR Chess could afford to draw against Armenia in round ten and in the twelfth and final round against the team of the Berlin Chess Association, and still finished with 22 out of 24 possible points and a 2-point lead.

Second was Freedom (20 points) ahead of Team MGD1 (18 points). The Armenian national team was fourth with 17 points and Germany and Friends, basically the German national team without Vincent Keymer, was fifth with 15 points.

Freedom | Photo: Niki Riga

Team MGD1 | Photo: Niki Riga

Michael Stöttinger’s ASV Alpha Echecs Linz with Maxime Vachier-Lagrave on top board, Polish team Columbus Energy KingsOfChess Kraków and the strong Berliner Schachverband, led by Niclas Huschenbeth, all had 14 points and shared sixth through eighth.

The top player according to rating performance was WR Chess’ Jan-Krzystof Duda, who posted a 2921 TPR on board four.

Gukesh played for Kompetenzteam Allstars | Photo: Dariusz Gorzinski

The next ‘Vincent Keymer’ of German chess could perhaps be Christian Glöckler. At 12, the exceptional talent from Erfurt played in the German chess team. He received a special prize for his game against GM Kenny Solomon, which he decided with a piece sacrifice.

Photo: Niki Riga

Incidentally, Wadim Rosenstein invited his team and team captain Jan Gustafsson to a 5-day training camp in Dubai for the purpose of team building.

Interview with Nihal Sarin

Interview with Vladimir Kramnik

Final standings

Rk. Team  TB1 
1 WR Chess 22
2 Freedom 20
3 Team MGD1 18
4 Armenia 17
5 Germany and Friends 15
6 ASV AlphaEchecs Linz 14
7 Columbus Energy KingsOfChess Kraków 14
8 Berlin Chess Federation 14
9 Six-pack 13
10 Chess Pensioners 13
11 Kompetenzakademie Allstars 13
12 Chessbrah OFM 13
13 Ashdod Elit Chess Club 13
14 FIDE Management Board 13
15 Düsseldorfer Schachklub 1914/25 e.V. 13

...36 teams


André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.