What a pretentious title!” you might think. Well, decide for yourself after taking a look at the team-lineup from OSG Baden-Baden last weekend in the 1.Bundesliga:

  1. Fabiano Caruana (2822, World’s N°2)
  2. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (2803, World’s N°4)
  3. Viswanathan Anand (2780, World’s N°8)
  4. Peter Svidler (2748, World’s N°18)
  5. Radoslaw Wojtaszek (2746, World’s N°20)
  6. Rustam Kasimdzhanov (2691, World’s N°53)
  7. Etienne Bacrot (2689, World’s N°55)
  8. Arkadij Naiditsch (2687, World’s N°59)

Needless to say, this was easily the strongest team that has ever played in the Bundesliga, with two former World Champions (Anand and Kasimdzhanov) and two players of the elitist “2800”-class (Caruana and MVL). The reason for this accumulation of chess stars was probably not the match on Sunday against our team from Griesheim. Instead all eyes were on Saturday’s encounter between the host SV Hockenheim and OSG‘s league of extraordinary gentlemen. Up to round 5, Hockenheim has won all their matches and was tied for first with Baden-Baden. Additionally, last season’s championship of SG Solingen was not fitting well with OSG’s self-conception as the World’s best team.

Apart from Anatoly Karpov, SV Hockenheim also played with their strongest players, amongst them Evgeny Tomashevsky, Nikita Vitiugov and Baadur Jobava. It was not enough for a surprise though, as Baden-Baden won with 5:3. Two wins by Caruana (against Tomashevsky) and Naiditsch (against Baramidze) sealed the deal.

1.Bundesliga, playing venue

Players and spectators in Hockenheim 2016 | photo: Sebastian Münch

Our own match against Speyer-Schwegenheim went astonishingly smoothly. In a former round, Speyer delivered the biggest upset so far by beating USV Dresden with 5:3. This time however, Caissa was not on their side. Nico Georgiadis, Jaroslaw Krassowizkij, Julius Grimm and Vinzent Spitzl won their games, whereas Marcin Tazbir, Lukasz Jarmula and myself drew. In the end we made 2 big points in the relegation battle, leaving the last spot in the Schachbundesliga table to MSA Zugzwang – sorry Markus (check out his report from Mühlheim here)!

Of course these 2 team-points were also the maximum that we could bring home from this weekend in Hockenheim, given that we were facing Baden-Baden on Sunday. Expectedly, we got smashed by 0,5 : 7,5. The honourable half point has been earned by young Swiss IM Nico Georgiadis, who played his first two games for us. Rated 2464, he managed to hold non other than Fabiano Caruana to a draw! More on that below. He was also so kind to analyse both of his games, which you can find here:

Off the chessboard

For spectators and the media this weekend was very attractive. Especially on Saturday the VIP-lounge of the Hockenheim-Ring was quite crowded, which is something that you don’t see too often at chess events. You can find a Youtube-video with some impressions of the venue on the official Schachbundesliga-site.

Before we proceed with chess content, let me give you some gossip first:

  • Peter Svidler is really running a marathon during games. From one side of the playing hall to the other and back.
  • Never underestimate German Winters. Fabiano did, not even wearing socks in Hockenheim! Now playing the London Chess Classic, he’s coughing…
  • Baadur Jobava was permanently wearing sunglasses. Of course this could be due to a medical cause, but given that he looked so incredibly badass with them, I somehow doubt it.
Bundesliga in Hockenheim, Peter Svidler and Baadur Jobava

Man in black Baadur Jobava observing Peter Svidler’s analysis after the game | photo: Philipp Spitzl

Highlights of Griesheim’s Bundesliga Weekend

Many players need some time to acclimate when they are new to a team. This was not the case with Nico Georgiadis, who scored 1,5/2 against GM Neiksans (2631) and GM Caruana (2822).

Bundesliga in Hockenheim, Georgiadis versus Caruana

Nico Georgiadis – Fabiano Caruana | photo: Stefan Walter

Nico is born in Switzerland in 1996 and currently studies journalism and communication sciences in Zurich. His minor subject is Spanish, probably in order to analyse with Paco Vallejo and Topalov. My own game on Saturday ended in an uneventful draw, such that I was able to witness the time-trouble between Nico and his opponent from Speyer-Schwegenheim. The young Swiss IM gradually managed to get a winning position with the Black pieces, but was visibly shocked when Neiksans played 39.b5-b6.

Bundesliga in Hockenheim, Neiksans versus Georgiadis

Neiksans – Georgiadis, position after 39.b5-b6

With only seconds on the clock, Nico played 39….Rxe2+, which is also winning, but not the most precise. Can you spot the immediate winning continuation? Hint: there’s a crucial Zwischenzug involved…

The game against Fabi was also intense. The No°2 of the World played resourcefully and eventually had the opportunity to score his second point of the week-end. But he missed both his chances by not playing 31….g3 and 34….g3. Nico was able to build a fortress and Fabiano almost overpushed his luck by trying to break it. The final position is actually winning for White!

Bundesliga in Hockenheim, Georgiadis versus Caruana

Final position of Georgiadis – Caruana

In the analysis above, the newest member of Griesheim’s team stated

I seriously considered rejecting the draw offer, but I assessed my position as only better for me, but still far away from winning. With only 7 minutes left on the clock against more than one hour, I decided to “chicken out” and take a draw against the actual world number 2, which is the biggest achievement of my career so far. However, the computer (and btw also Fabiano) thinks, that Black is in serious danger, if not just lost.

Important moments in the relegation-match

Speyer-Schwegenheim’s board 2 GM Adam Horvath misplayed his opening as early as on move 7. Jaroslaw punished it without mercy. Horvath probably missed that in the line with 8….Qb6 (which supposingly was his original intention)

Bundesliga in Hockenheim, Krassowizkij versus Horvath, analysis

Variation in the game Krassowizkij – Horvath

there is the stunning maneuver 9.Ne7 Bb7 10.Nc8! hitting the queen, with the idea of 10….Qc7 11.Bxb7 Qxb7 12.Nd6+ forking the queen!

Bundesliga in Hockenheim, Julius Grimm pondering

Julius at work | photo: Philipp Spitzl

Julius Grimm won his first game of this season in style. With the Black pieces, he got into the following position right before time control.

Bundesliga in Hockenheim, Csonka versus Grimm

Csonka – Grimm, position after 39.Qa3

Instead of passively defending the e5 pawn, he seized the opportunity and went for a decisive counter-attack: 39.Red8! and after 40.dxe5 Rd1+ the White king was in severe trouble.

The first one to end however was our young Vinzent Spitzl, when his unlucky opponent Enrico Kraemer blundered by playing 20….h7-h6??.

Bundesliga in Hockenheim, position in Spitzl versus Kraemer

Vinzent Spitzl – Enrico Kraemer; White to move and win

Can you find Vinzent’s move here?

Merciless Baden-Baden

On Sunday Marcin Tazbir had the honour of playing former World Champion Viswanathan Anand. In the spirit of both players, they played the Sicilian Najdorf and got an exciting position.

Bundesliga in Hockenheim, Tazbir - Anand

Marcin against Vishy | photo: Stefan Walter

In the arising complications, Anand unsurprisingly came out on top, with Marcin telling me after the game:

He [Vishy] calculated 10 times as much as me!

I had the opportunity to follow their post-mortem analysis and I have to say it was quite something. Marcin is a chatty guy and not timid at all, but even he seemed to be impressed how Vishy and his long-time second Radoslaw Wojtaszek slapped out the moves. However, these guys are humans as well and so we had a little laugh when even Vishy couldn’t remember one of his moves he made in the game!

Most of the games against Baden-Baden went downhill already right from the start. My own one was disastrous, as I naively thought that my opponent – opening guru Radoslaw Wojtaszek – had made a severe inaccuracy in the opening. How foolish! After only 16 moves I got the following position with White and was seriously considering to resign.

Bundesliga, Walter versus Wojtaszek

Stefan Walter – Radoslaw Wojtaszek

In hindsight, this would have been the less embarrassing choice.

Bundesliga in Hockenheim, Nothnagel against Bacrot

Against Baden-Baden, it doesn’t get better with Vodka, Holger! | photo: Stefan Walter

Apart from Nico, the only other game which seemed to have some drawing potential was Holger Nothnagel’s 1.b3 – game (a specialty in Griesheim!) against former prodigy GM Etienne Bacrot. That is, until Holger blundered in this position

Bundesliga in Hockenheim, Holger Nothnagel versus Etienne Bacrot

Nothnagel, H – Bacrot, E; position before 18.Ng3

with 18.Ng3, allowing 19….Bf4, when White’s queen was in trouble.

All in all, the result was no surprise, but the way in which it happened was a little disappointing. Anyways, it was a lot of fun in Hockenheim.