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Creating a super tournament from scratch - interview with Wadim Rosenstein

by Sagar Shah - 08/02/2023

The WR Chess Masters is a classical chess tournament which boasts the participation of 10 World-class Grandmasters. With a mix of youth and experience, this dynamic field will battle each other from February 15th-26th in a 9-game Round Robin event. The most special thing about the event is its time control. It has the same time control as the World Championship Match. How difficult is it to organize a super tournament from scratch? In this article, we talk to the man behind the WR Chess Masters - Wadim Rosenstein and get some insights.

A special interview with Wadim Rosenstein, WR Chess Masters Organizer

Wadim Rosenstein, founder and CEO of WR Group, and host of the WR Chess Masters

Sagar Shah (SS): Why did you decide to organize the WR chess masters?

Wadim Rosenstein (WR): In general, I am interested in promoting chess and supporting outstanding talents, especially in my hometown Düsseldorf. This led to the plan to organize an Open World Championship for teams in Düsseldorf together with FIDE. In Germany, we have an outstanding talent in Vincent Keymer, whom I am happy to give the opportunity to gain further experience at the world-class level. And so, one thing led to another. The WR Chess Masters from February 15 to 26 offers Vincent such an opportunity. In addition, before the World Rapid Team Championship in June, it should draw attention to Düsseldorf as a chess location.

Read more about the brand-new World Open Team Championships here.

SS: What was the idea behind having the time control in the same format as that of the world championship?

WR: I wanted it to be a tournament with classical time control. Since we will see a World Championship match eight weeks after the WR Chess Masters, I went for the World Championship time control format. This time control should add to Ian Nepomniachtchi’s practical preparation before the most important match of his life while not hurting any of the other participants as I’m sure some of them will play in the world championships in the nearest future. 

From 7th April 2023, Ian Nepomniachtchi will take on Ding Liren for the World Champion Title! | Photo: Stev Bonhage

SS: Can you tell us a bit about your relationship with Ian Nepomniachtchi?

WR: My support for Ian came about rather by chance. An acquaintance of mine helps him to manage his career. This is how we connected. Him being one of the best players on the planet about to fight for the title is something I highly respect. So now I’m helping him.

The highest-rated participant of the WR Masters 2023 - Ian Nepomniachtchi. The world class GM now wears the WR Group logo on his chest! | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Saint Louis Chess Club

SS: How did you decide on having 5 experienced players and 5 young talents?

WR: We wanted to put together a field that was exceptionally strong and at the same time as exciting as possible. From my point of view, it was obvious to bring together some established world class players and some of the best juniors in the world. It was really hard to choose only two youngsters from India because you have so many great players! I hope I didn’t hurt feelings of your fans and hope to invite more players next time. The world-class players will have to fend off the onslaught of young talent in Düsseldorf, while the talented players can show that they are already part of the elite. I am looking forward to exciting battles. 

The lineup is a perfect mix of youth and experience! | Photo: Official website

SS: Could you tell us a bit about your relationship with chess? Did you play chess when you were young?

WR: My grandfather started my passion for the game. I vividly remember our first lesson when he showed me the lawnmower mate on his old board. As a child I was already a member of a chess club. I guess I had some talent. Not like Gukesh or Pragg, of course, but at least our team won the Jugendbundesliga, the highest German youth league. However, after school my education and my job took precedence, chess took a back seat. Today I am a passionate hobby player.

Wadim enjoying a few games of chess with Germany's best player, GM Vincent Keymer! | Photo: WR Chess Masters Twitter

SS: Can you tell us a bit about your profession?

WR: Project logistics. We help companies in the export of industrial goods, which is often a complex process: certification, customs formalities, engineering, construction. We work worldwide, with 12 offices in 8 countries.

Official website of the International Holding WR Group

SS: What are your next plans in chess?

WR: The immediate plan is to make the WR Chess Masters and the World Rapid Team Championship in Düsseldorf a success. That is my whole focus. When both are behind us, we’ll do a debriefing, and then I’ll think about how to continue and make plans if necessary. 


Who are the people helping you to organize this tournament?

WR: Behind the WR Chess Masters is a capable, knowledgeable team, I can’t list them all, but here are some names: Tournament director Sebastian Siebrecht is known as organizer of the annual International Bavarian Championships, one of the biggest Opens in Europe. Furthermore, with his “Fascination Chess” he is one of the best ambassadors of our game in German speaking countries. He has already brought thousands of children to chess.

German Grandmaster Sebastian Siebrecht deep in thought at the German Bundesliga, 2008. | Photo: Georgios Souleidis

Anastasiya Karlovych is very well connected and known in chess worldwide. She has lots of experience and knowledge, she was a FIDE press officer for many years, worked on dozens international top-level events.

A Woman Grandmaster, as well as a journalist and photographer - Anastasiya Karlovich is a person of many talents! | Photo: Bryan Adams/ Grand Chess Tour

Anastasia Sorokina is in charge of the organisation of WR Chess Juniors event and other side activities. She has a reputation of a successful organizer of a few World Junior championships and many other international events.

Anastasia Sorokina is a WIM, International Arbiter, and had been the FIDE Vice President in the past | Photo: David Llada

I’m looking forward to seeing Lennart Ootes’ photos from the tournament and following Yasser Seirawan and Elisabeth Paehtz commentary in our livestream. Each round as well as our bughouse tournament at the end of the event will be streamed live, beginning on February 16th at 2 p.m. Central European Time on our YouTube channel

Lennart Ootes is one of the best Chess photographers in the business! | Photo: Katerina Nemcova

Top female GM Elisabeth Paehtz will join one of the finest chess commentators of the world Yasser Seirawan! 

SS: Can you tell us about the side events that will happen along with the main tournament.

WR: These are also more than I could list here. We have organized a lot of goodies especially for the Düsseldorf youngsters. My main intention behind the side events was to offer opportunities for local kids to experience and enjoy chess. You can see all of these opportunities in the side event section of our website Let me specifically mention our "U14 Mini Camp" and WR Juniors Tournament. We organized online qualifying tournaments for talented players from all over the world. Players from 76 federations took part in the online events.

The complete list of Side events in WR Chess Masters

The winners now come to Düsseldorf to train for a week with Grandmasters Boris Gelfand and Elisabeth Paehtz. They will also take part in the finals of the WR Juniors tournament and will have a unique chance to meet top players from WR Chess Masters. GMs Vincent Keymer and Zhansaya Abdumalik will play against talented boys and girls from Dusseldorf CK on the 15th and 16th of February.


SS: How tough is it to organize a super tournament? As a sponsor and organizer do you think the future of chess is classical or rapid and blitz?

WR: I wouldn't call it "tough“; it gives me great pleasure. But I must admit that the effort is higher than I expected. I believe that chess has a great future and every form of play has its justification. I would by no means pit formats against each other, but welcome each one. In Wijk an Zee we have just seen what we will also see in Düsseldorf: classical chess is alive and kicking. At the end of December at the Rapid and Blitz World Championship we saw the fascination that comes from the fast formats. Actually, I do think there’s even more. For example, I also perceived the chess960 World Championship as a success and expect more chess960 to be played. And who knows what the future holds for my special hobbyhorse, bughouse? I'm excited about our bughouse tournament with world-class players, which we will broadcast live on February 26th.

Important links

WR Chess Masters Official Website

WR Chess Masters Twitter

WR Chess Masters Instagram

Special thanks to Himank Ghosh for editing this article

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