Reports | October 16, 2011 16:01

Train chess - the most unique tournament ever? Part 1

Train chess - the most unique tournament ever? Part 1

Playing chess in a train that goes from Prague to Vienna, Budapest, Bratislava, Krakow and back to Prague - it is arguably the most unique ever, and currently under way. ChessVibes hopped on the train to join this wonderful experience and see five beautiful cities.

It's actually strange that this was never done before, isn't it? A real chess tournament that is being held in a train. Well, the ever-active tournament organizer from the Czech Republic, Pavel Matocha, organized this! It's a wonderful idea, and it's currently taking place.

The trip goes to five beautiful Central-European cities; the chess is rapid (25 minutes on the clock for each person, no increment). The train left from Prague on Friday, October 14th at 10 am and on the way to Vienna the first 3 rounds of the tournament were played. In the afternoon and evening the players, accompanying persons, organizers and sponsors could enjoy the Austrian capital, and stayed there in a hotel. On Saturday morning the train continued to Budapest, and on Sunday morning everyone, including the author of this report, travelled further to Bratislava! Tomorrow the train is heading to Krakow and from there it goes back to Prague on Tuesday.

The rapid tournament will last fifteen rounds, with four rounds during the last two trips. Exactly 64 players participate, including the legendary Czech grandmaster Vlastimil Hort (who beat yours truly in the fourth round). The top seed, however, is Robert Cvek, who is a member of the Czech Olympiad team. Also five IMs play - the full list can be found here.

As we write this we have just reached Bratislava. Below are photo impressions of the first three days (warning: overdose of tourism!) - later we'll add a second report which will include a video.

The whole event started, of course, at the Prague main station

Participants arrive with their luggage, and enter the tournament

A pretty, classic hall at the entrance of the station

The tournament is opened by organizer Pavel Matocha (with microphone); GM Vlastimil Hort on the right

Participants and press watching

The special chess train that was set up for the tournament - main sponsor are the Czech Railways

Every wagon is named after a former World Champion - the top boards are in the first, 'Steinitz'

Participants entering the wagon 'Lasker'

The chess train is leaving!!

Vlastimil Hort giving an interview for local TV...

...and here in action against (and actually losing to) editor-in-chief of Russian magazine '64', Mark Gluhovsky

Organizer Pavel Matocha playing blitz in between the rounds

Arrival in Vienna! The State Opera

The Saint Stephen's Cathedral

Johan Strauss - this time as the name of a clothing shop

One of the government buildings: Hofburg

One of the first 'modern' buildings in Vienna, built in a combination of Jugendstil and Bauhaus architecture

Cafe Central, which was opened in 1876. In the late 19th century it became a key meeting place of the Viennese intellectual scene. Writer Peter Altenberg has its statue inside.

Saturday morning, and everyone's leaving Vienna again, for...

...the Hungarian capital!

The Heroes Square

The Matthias Church

The Fishermen's Bastion

The view from the Bastion is stunning...

...from 'Buda' you can see the Danube river and the 'Pest' part...

...including the beautiful Parliament

Budapest is a beautiful city with an enormous amount of statues, including this American actor!

Also one of the many cities where yesterday protests took place against the power of banks and capitalism

For your information, the word 'democracy' was shouted all the time

The Basilica - the third largest church in Europe... seen from the front

One of the bridges over the Danube river

Sunday morning - everyone's leaving the hotel again...

...and back to Budapest Nyugati station...

...and back to the tourament inside the wagons!

A pretty sight close to the border of Hungary and Slovakia

The GM's met in the 7th round and drew

Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.


noyb's picture

Thank you for this wonderful report!

noELO's picture

Maybe better link is only
- then you can choose right article, if you understand Czech :-)

Pogo's picture

or here, if you understand english:

adam's picture

amazing idea, congrats to the organizers!

Jan 's picture

pity I didnt know about it...I live in Prague but only just started playing again (and I'm dutch as well;-) )

Michael Lubin's picture

Tear down that statue!

Dan Kramlich's picture

Reagan was a really good actor...

Annemarie Hering's picture

Wonderful photos, till soon

John Reid's picture

Great idea for a tournament and a very nice article but "most unique" makes zero sense. Something is unique or it is not.

Pete Davidson's picture

Wow, now this is something that I have never heard of before. I don't think there are a whole lot of people who have. I hope to read more about chess tournaments like this in the future.


    Gambling at the poker games using casino tips is fun and there is a lot of money to be won for those who know what they are doing.

Michael Springett's picture

That looks good!! Might have to enter that some time :)

Szoker's picture

Is the train going through Wrocław station too ?

Russell Miller's picture

Years ago there were several chess tournaments held on the car ferry between Seattle Washington USA and Bremerton Washington. The train idea might be done in 2012 from Chicago to Vancouver Washington the site of the US Open Aug 4-12.

pechac's picture

Latest articles