Jan Henric Buettner’s encounter with Henrik Carlsen in October 2023 in Qatar proved to be more challenging than his subsequent meeting with Magnus. The Hamburg-based entrepreneur spent three meetings, amounting to seven hours, in deep discussion with Carlsen senior. He outlined his plans and introduced him to his WEISSENHAUS resort, which was poised to become the epicenter of the chess world for a few days. As Buettner and the Norwegian parted ways, the realization of the Weissenhaus Freestyle Chess G.O.A.T. Challenge still seemed like a distant dream.
However, the following meeting with Magnus Carlsen, the world’s top-ranked player, changed everything. Magnus sensed that this collaboration could culminate in the tournament format he had been envisioning for years: 960, classic time control, knockout system, the best players of the world, all wrapped up in a presentation that sets new standards and serves as a beacon for the sport of chess. Buettner and Carlsen brainstormed, exchanged ideas, and after half an hour, they shook hands in agreement. Deal, let’s do this!
Buettner’s life has been characterized by his ability to conceive ideas early on and implement them swiftly. This trait is evident in his pioneering work in mobile communications and the internet, and now, he stands as a chess pioneer aiming to evolve the sport, making it more tangible, more emotional and more thrilling.
The 59-year-old describes himself as an ambitious amateur. His training sessions with his grandmaster coach, Niclas Huschenbeth, piqued Buettner’s curiosity about his competitions. He watched them – and found their presentation lackluster and the modes uninspiring. “A tournament needs quarter-finals, semi-finals, finals,” Buettner thought. This sparked his ambition as an organizer as well. He wants to demonstrate how chess presentation could be more captivating.
Since the agreement with the Carlsens, Buettner’s team has been working tirelessly to transform the competition on the Baltic Sea into a grand event. The WEISSENHAUS Freestyle Chess G.O.A.T. Challenge is designed to be an extraordinary experience for both the players at the board and the spectators. Buettner: “Afterwards, everyone should say that they want to do it again.”