Prague: Wonders of the Chess Train

Время публикации: 18.10.2014 21:38 | Последнее обновление: 07.04.2015 17:45

(Translated from Russian by Andrey Deviatkin)

After a non-chess Vienna - Prague - Salzburg - Vienna journey in 2013, I have fallen in love with the Czech capital. Just a couple of days spent in Prague have been enough for that.

Prague is wonderful. Prague is amazing. It's like a magnet. The beautiful architecture, friendly people, excellent restaurants with reasonable prices and the tastiest beer ever - all this means that you just can't help desiring to visit Prague again. But besides, there is some special, subtle charm in this city. This feeling can hardly be described - you have no choise but to visit Prague yourself to experience it.

I had been aware about the Chess Train tournament for a long time - since the first report by Eugeny Surov on Chess-News back in 2011. After my trip to Prague in 2013 I had got an idea to take part in this unusual event, so I wrote to its chief organizer, a big chess enthusiast Pavel Matocha. Our correspondence left a very good impression upon me, as all the replies were polite and timely (if Matocha would be busy then his female assistants would reply).

So, the plan has been worked out, and this year I found myself among 76 participants of the Chess Train 2014. Since I haven't played chess for 5 years I decided to pay more attention to the touristic part of the journey rather than to the competition ifself.

CN: The Chess Train (Šachový vlak) is an unusual annual chess event which combines a rapid chess tournament with touristic activities and sightseeing. The playing venue is a train which follows a Central European route. It's a good chance for amateurs to meet grandmasters as well as to trip over beautiful cities of Central Europe. There is also a big diversity in nationalities of participants.
Any player can apply for the tournament (on a condition of paying the starting fee of 180 euro) but the number of participants is limited by the train capacity; besides, the acceptance of a player is due to the organizers.
In 2014, the Chess Train has taken its start for the 4th time, having departed from the Prague Central Station on October 10th. The route was Prague - Vienna - Budapest - Trencin - Krakow - Prague.
The Chess Train tournament is organised by Pražská šachová společnost (Prague chess association) together with Czech railways. More details and reports can be found on the official website

Of course, I decided to come to Prague 3 days prior to the start to enjoy its sights without any hurry. My companion was a Russian chess player Ilya Trikin, a friend of mine.

The grandiose monument to Jan Žižka

A misty morning view from the
Vítkov Hill

Žižkov TV tower and St. Procopius Basilica

The church of St. Simon and Jude

The Spanish synagogue

An unusual monument to Franz Kafka near the synagogue

Yet another beautiful cathedral

And one more

Eventually, we came to the famous Old Town Square.

The well-known astronomical clock

We decided to climb up the tower (the one where the astronomical clock is mounted) and take a picture of the city view.

The famous Dancing House.

As we've crossed the Prague almost throughover in two days, it's impossible to convey all the impressions. Just a few more photos:

The St. Vitus cathedral which amazed me by its might. It's at least as impressive as the St. Stephen's cathedral in Vienna (which we would see the next day).

The city view from the St. Vitus cathedral (photo taken during my previous journey in 2013).

In the morning of October 10th, when the Prague sightseeing had been over, the Chess Train was waiting for us at the Prague Central Station. The passengers were offered a breakfast.

Have you ever seen a locomotive and a car and like these? I haven't - before this journey.

The author of the report with the charming train conductor.

Vlastimil Hort arriving at the station. Could I anticipate that I would face the chess legend over the board already in round 2?

The Chess Train has taken its start!


Here I missed 25.Rxе5! dxe5 26.Nxe5 - White will regain some material, getting dangerous passed pawns. Probably Hort missed that too, as he told me he had been considering his position slightly better throughout the game. (He speaks Russian well, by the way.) I chose 25.Кh2 and was outplayed in a long endgame gradually.

After the game with the legendary GM

Meanwhile, the train was already approaching the next stop...

To be continued...


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