The 50th International Dortmund Chess Days will see the third edition of the Sportland NRW Cup. A mixture of the strongest youth players, women's national players and top-class title holders promises an exciting round robin tournament. Both IM norms and GM norms will be possible for the players. The tournament will start on 24.6 parallel to the open tournaments in the Goldsaal of the Dortmund Westfalenhallen. One round will be played daily, so that in the ten-player tournament everyone will play against everyone else in nine rounds.
The ten participants have now been determined and are briefly presented below. The draw for the tournament will also be made shortly. (Photo award ceremony Sportland NRW Cup 2021)
GM Karthik Venkataraman (2548)
The young Indian earned his GM title at the end of 2018. He is now 23 years old and has recently been playing at a very high level. After a long break due to the pandemic, Karthik now reaches his highest rating with 2548. He finished his last tournament at the Chessable Sunway Formentera Chess Festival in a strong 2nd place with a performance of 2603.
GM Mihail Saltaev (2462)
Mihail participated in the first edition of the Sportland NRW Cup in the Westfalenhallen in 2021. He played a strong tournament and finished third. He lives in Mülheim an der Ruhr and plays in the first national chess league there. The Uzbek has held the title of Grandmaster since 1995.
In the 1990s he became Uzbek champion three times and represented his home country in three chess Olympiads.
GM Alexander Bagrationi (2454)
Alexander (photo Sparkassen Chess Trophy 2022) was born in Ukraine, then immigrated to Israel and has been living in Dortmund for some time. Last year he already took part in the Sportland NRW Cup and scored 4.5 points from 9 games. The year before last he played himself into the limelight in the No Castling Sparkassen Online Open when he won the second preliminary round tournament. He has been a prize winner in many national and international tournaments. He considers his biggest success to be winning the 2018 Jerusalem Championship, where he won all his games against good opponents.
WGM Dinara Wagner (2447)
Dinara has been a Women's Grandmaster since 2020 and has played for the German national team since 2022. She is married to the German Grandmaster and A-Open participant Dennis Wagner. In her debut year in 2022, the Russian-born player won the strong German Masters for women straight away. She lives in Heidelberg, where she is studying for a Master's degree in Economics, and has been steadily above the Elo rating of 2400 since the end of last year. She recently celebrated her greatest success by winning the Women's Grand Prix in Nicosia.
IM Ruben Gideon Köllner (2429)
Two years ago, Ruben won the Sportland NRW Cup and, among other things, secured his title of International Master in 2021 with this victory. He celebrated several successes in German youth chess, becoming German Champion in the U12 and U16 age groups. At the age of 19 he has now established himself as a strong IM and is certainly aiming for the GM title in the medium term.
IM Vadym Petrovskyi (2423)
The young Ukrainian came to Germany last year and directly finished third in the German U16 Championship. This year he was named International Master and has currently reached his highest rating. Most recently he came second in the Stuttgart Open Championship, beating GM Kunin, among others.
IM Georgios Souleidis (2419)
Georgios (photo) was in the organising team of the International Dortmund Chess Days for many years and took care of the press work. Meanwhile, the trained journalist is known in chess Germany as "The Big Greek" through his YouTube and Twitch account. He has been an International Master for over 20 years and is therefore one of the most experienced participants in the tournament. In his last tournament, the Rilton Cup, he performed strongly and beat, among others, the strong grandmasters Ilia Smirin and Erik Blomqvist.
FM Arthur De Winter (2378)
Artur, born in 2008, has been playing active chess since the age of 9 and has had some success at youth level in the Netherlands. Most recently he won the Dutch Championship U18 with 5.5 points out of 7 and thus pushed his rating close to 2400. He trains with the well-known coach Robert Ris and will play for an IM norm in Dortmund.
WGM Jana Schneider (2326)
Jana is now an integral part of the German women's national team and played an outstanding 2022 Chess Olympiad for them with 9 points from 10 games. Already in 2017 she became German Women's Champion as a 14-year-old. She has held the WGM title since 2021. Her Elo rating was already 2353 at the peak.
Her rating target is 2400 in the medium term. Jana has also already been able to achieve an IM norm, so she has the chance to achieve her second norm in the Sportland NRW Cup.
FM Hussain Besou (2325)
Hussain is the shooting star in German chess youth: At the age of 11 he is already Fidemeister, his Elo rating means second place in the World Ranking U12 and in this age group he already took third place in the 2022 World Championship. Hussain fled Syria with his family when he was five years old to escape the Assad regime and has lived in Lippstadt ever since, where the local club LSV/Turm Lippstadt helped with his integration.
He trained for some time with our commentator GM Artur Jussupow. He recently made his first appearance for the German national team in the Mitropa Cup, becoming the youngest German national player ever. In Dortmund he will get the chance to compete with title holders and fight for his first title norms.