After perhaps the biggest event in 50 years of the International Dortmund Chess Days in 1992 with the winner Gary Kasparov, the organisers around Kolbe, Grastat, Hensel and co. have to change their approach: The 21st Chess Days in 1993 are threatened with cancellation due to a budget shortfall. But the city council and the Stadtsparkasse Dortmund grant subsidies so that the 1993 tournament can take place: The winner was the 12th world champion in chess history, Anatoly Karpov.
Karpov wins in 1993 ahead of Vladimir Kramnik, who shot to the top of the world after his success in the Open the year before, and the German participant Christopher Lutz. It remains a rare success for a German player in the 1990s. The organisers continue to give local players the chance to compete with the world class every year. But in 1994, for example, Lutz ends up in 9th place out of the 10 participants. After his victory, Karpov returns to the Chess Days 4 more times in the 1990s, without being able to build on his success. Instead, Vladimir Kramnik became "Mr. Dortmund" during this period: he won in 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000 and 2001.
Peter Leko became a second constant in the field of participants. The Hungarian was already present in the A-Open as a 12-year-old (photo Peter Leko 1992, by Christian Lünig). In 1994 he already got his first chance in the grandmaster tournament, which he won in 1999 half a point ahead of Vladimir Kramnik.
Carsten Hensel, who also managed both of them between 1998 and 2009, sees one of the strengths of the tournament at that time in the reliance on these two world-class players. "We trusted in Peter and Wladimir when they were not yet at the absolute top. We even let Leko play as a category killer in 1994 and 1995."
Commitment, instinct and a happy hand ensured that "you can create a major event even without Kasparov", says Hensel. Moreover, to this day, an important part of the success lies in the support of the players and the team. On "many nice evenings", drivers, cashiers and other helpers on site are close to the "really big guys". Even among the players, a relationship of trust has developed. Thus, many of them have decades-long relationships with today's Sparkassen Chess Trophy. For example, Artur Jussupow, participant in 1994, 1997 or 1998, is today the live commentator of the grandmaster tournament. Or Viswanathan Anand, who demonstrated his attachment to Dortmund as early as 1996 with his honeymoon in the city, and was still sitting on the stage as a player in 2022.
"It should have an Elo average of 2700," says Hensel about the grandmaster tournament at that time.
There is a change from 1994: from then on, the chess festival takes place in the summer months and thus uses the summer breaks in the theatre and opera house, which are now available as venues. In addition, the tournament is brought up to date with the latest broadcasting technology. The live commentaries by Helmut Pfleger, Klaus Bischoff and Eric Lobron will be broadcast by radio to the playing hall and transmitted to the audience via headphones. The games are broadcast on large screens and the display of the remaining time to play becomes more and more accurate. Everything was prepared so that in 2002 the next big highlight would come to Dortmund with the Candidates Tournament.
Kramnik succeeded in a model game for Isolani positions when he won the tournament in 2001 against Vishy Anand:
Winner´s photo 2001
Cover picture: Anatoly Karpov - Vladimir Kramnik, Dortmund 1993
All photos from Christian Lünig, Arbeitsblende