Combining scintillating speed with unerring skill and scheming, some of the best chess players on the planet converged on the German city of Dusseldorf this week for the first-ever World Rapid Team Championships.
Sponsored by WR Logistics to the tune of P59 million, the debut tournament ran from 26 to 28 August and attracted 40 teams made up of six players, with each side playing 12 matches.
Teams had to include at least one female player, one player who has not achieved a FIDE rating of 2000 and a captain.
Some of the stars on show included former World Champions: Vishy Anand, Vladimir Kramnik, and Mariya Muzychuk.
In the end it was the hosts, WR Chess who emerged victorious, winning 10 and drawing two of their 12 outings to finish undefeated, two points ahead of Freedom in second.
The brains behind the sporting spectacle, Logistics Director, Wadim Rosenstein, who was part of the winning WR team, told Voice Sport he was delighted with the turn-out.
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“I was impressed by the participation of women, young players and elders because it is a testimony of inclusivity in chess. I met African Chess Confederation President, Tshepiso Lopang in one of the chess tournaments last year and she proposed that I sponsor a team from her continent. I couldn’t hesitate because Africa is a developing continent and needs our support. I have passion for global chess popularity. I recently went to Cape Town and was impressed by the love and passion people had for chess,” said Rosenstein, adding the dream is to hold the tournament annually.
Part of the Team Africa that ended-up in 30th position, the side’s youngest member, 25-year-old Bilel Bellahcene said despite the lowly finish, they gained much from the experience.
“We played against the best in the world and learnt a lot, even winning a few games,” reflected the Algerian Grandmaster.
In a similarly upbeat mood, Lopang revealed she had made key contacts during her stay in Germany.
“I successfully managed to close a partnership with Frederic Friedel the found of Chessbase who will soon set up in Africa. They will help us with software for online chess. This is a new thing in Africa and most of our chess players do not have the software and gadgets to play online and I will continue to source for more funds to help them. We are expecting this to happen in at least eight weeks time. I’m very impressed that business people in the developed world, especially Europe, are willing to invest in chess Africa development,” declared Africa’s Chess queen.