On November 19th/20th rounds 3 and 4 of the Schachbundesliga took place for us in the ancient city of Trier, close to the border to Luxembourg. A nice aspect of playing in the highest German league is to see different places – and Trier certainly is worth a visit.

The famous Porta Nigra - the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps

The famous Porta Nigra – the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps | photo: Berthold Werner

We decided to start our trip on the very day of Round 3, even if it meant to get up a little early. When we arrived in Trier, at first we had some trouble finding the playing venue. But then we recognised a man going for a walk, who was totally absorbed in thought, and we were pretty sure that we had found a chess player. As we came closer to the man, our last doubts disappeared, since the man turned out to be Vassily Ivanchuk! We had found the right place and what a nice surprise it was to see such a legend in action over the weekend!

Round 3: DJK Aachen  – SV Griesheim

On Saturday we had to play DJK Aachen, who are new to the Schachbundesliga. Still, they have quite a young and strong team, as we were to find out soon. Since our team is mainly composed of amateurs, the usual pattern consists of checking the team line-up of our opponent (which is being published half an hour before the start of the game), start our notebooks and check the database for potential openings.


Preparation right before the game: (from the left) Julius Grimm, Ronald Köhler, Vinzent Spitzl, Jaroslaw Krassowizkij, Lukasz Jarmula, Marcin Tazbir | photo: Philipp Spitzl

I played young Dutch GM Twan Burg, who turned out to be well prepared. I was following the recommendation in the famous Catalan book by Boris Avrukh, or at least I thought so! As it turned out, I mixed something up and the position became dull and equal as early as on move 20. Since we play with the “Sofia-rule”, this was the first possible moment to agree to a draw and so we did. We were by far the first ones to finish, which of course is nothing to brag about when playing with the White pieces.

The next game to finish was on board 1. Our young IM Jaroslaw Krassowizkij has a tough time up there, but usually he is very solid. This time however, his Exchange Slav against Dutch prodigy GM Jorden van Foreest backfired rapidly. Just take a look at the position after 21 moves:


van Foreest has just played 21…. g5-g4, opening the 5th rank for his queen and preparing a deadly attack along the h-file

Four moves later we were down 0,5 : 1,5.

On board 2 our rock-solid GM Miroslaw Grabarczyk faced another prodigy, namely GM Alexander Donchenko. They too played a popular line of the Catalan. Funnily enough, Miroslaw showed me this line right before the match when I was preparing for my opponent! Only that he played it from the other side, with Black. The game was a perfect example of a knight being the best blocker of a passed pawn. The draw was agreed on move 42.

Board 3 saw a crazy encounter between Griesheim‘s GM Marcin Tazbir and Aachen’s GM Friso Nijboer. Of course the Dutch GM fittingly played the Dutch opening (Leningrad variation), which was also recently featured in a compatriot’s video series. Maybe he took a chapter out of that one. Anyways, due to the early complications Marcin got into time-trouble and offered a draw on move 25, when Stockfish 7 is claiming that White is winning!

final position of Tazbir - Nijboer draw agreed

final position of Tazbir – Nijboer
draw agreed

The position is not easy to judge, though, especially in Zeitnot. Here’s an impression of their post-mortem analysis:


IM Lukasz Jarmula will most definitely add to the long list of talents that transformed into GMs while playing for Griesheim. His performance at the moment is 2555 out of 4 games and I’m sure that he’ll cross the magical 2500 elo-barrier soon. Against Aachen he played GM Martijn Dambacher and showed once more, that he’s not afraid of action and fireworks.


He played the infamous Benko-gambit, which led into a very complicated middlegame. As far as I could see, both parties played more or less accurately, such that a draw was the logical result.

On board 6 Julius Grimm, who until recently played for a local rival in Darmstadt, cracked to GM Ilja Zaragatski. Already after 13 moves the position looked grim(m):

Zaragatski - Grimm 1:0 after 33 moves; the opening did not go smoothly for Black

Zaragatzki – Grimm 1:0 after 33 moves;
the opening did not go smoothly for Black, White is better

The first season in the Schachbundesliga is always hard, as your opening-repertoire is not yet up to the standards. As a consequence, you also get into time-trouble, which only makes things worse. But Julius is still young and I’m sure that he’ll recover.

The game Ronald Köhler against IM Christian Braun unexpectedly led to the biggest discussion during team dinner later that evening.

A curious line in the King's Indian led to this position right before move 13. Ronald took on e2 with the king.

A curious line in the King’s Indian led to this position. Ronald took on e2 with the king.

Jaroslaw mentioned that the move 13.Bf6! followed by 13….Bxf6 14.Nd5! would have been the only reasonable way to proceed, since the game continuation 13.Kxe2 ensured Black a pleasant endgame instead. While this is true, we were arguing about how difficult it is to find the critical lines. In my opinion it is not that simple! I’ve briefly analysed some of them here:

On the last board the battle of the younger generation between Vinzent Spitzl and Lucas van Foreest didn’t offer too much excitement. Lucas seems to like rare opening lines (he responded with 1….h7-h6 the next day against GM Arik Braun!), but Vinzent neutralized White’s 7.Na3 thoughtfully and reached a level game, which ended in a draw after 22 moves.

final position of van Foreest, L - Spitzl, V

final position of van Foreest, L – Spitzl, V

Summing up, we lost 2,5 : 5,5. Maybe we could have accumulated half a point here or there, but in the end it’s a deserved loss. At that point I’d like to congratulate the young team from Aachen!