On Sunday, November 20th, the chess crowd in Trier saw the 4th round of the Schachbundesliga season 2016/17. Two matches were scheduled: SV HockenheimDJK Aachen and SV GriesheimSG Trier. In both encounters the favourite came out on top without major difficulties. Even without their 2700-players Tomashevsky, Vitiugov and Jobava, Hockenheim managed to win all their 4 team games so far and consequently ties for first together with the dominant force in Germany, OSG Baden Baden, and defending champion SG Solingen. Aachen couldn’t stop this run and lost 2-6.

Our young team from Griesheim was the clear underdog and the hopes were not very high when we saw Trier’s lineup on Saturday. Against SV Hockenheim they played with 6 GM’s, including top-GM Vassily Ivanchuk, who added to the many attractions of Germany’s Schachbundesliga. In fact, they even increased their strength unexpectedly by letting IM Felix Graf play on board 4. This meant that our preparations on boards 4-8 were down the drain. Personally, I had prepared until 02.30am, so my mood wasn’t too shiny 7 hours later, when I was facing a new opponent.

Our whole match only lasted 4.5 hours, which is really unusual. I don’t recall any other match that ended directly after the first time-control, basically. That doesn’t mean that there weren’t a lot of interesting games, though!
In the end we lost 3-5, which is still decent considering an average elo-difference of 146.

Since my own game was kind of tense, I have no idea about the chronology of the fight. Instead, we will simply take a look at some of the highlights in the next section. But before we do, I want to mention a special treat for our German-speaking readers, who can click through the Ivanchuk – Krassowizkij game with annotations by the latter. Also, my own game is commented in English.

Schachbundesliga Round 4: SV Griesheim – SG Trier

Boards 1-4

Fortunately for all chess enthusiasts, Vassily Ivanchuk apparently decided to spend more time on the chess board again. Not too long ago, he surprisingly rejected to play at the Olympiad, but instead played a draughts tournament in Poland. Griesheim’s top board Jaroslaw Krassowizkij probably hoped that Vassily would mainly play diagonal moves with his queen and bishop. But unfortunately for us, the Ukrainian superstar still knew how to use the other pieces.

position after 21 moves of Ivanchuk - Krassowizkij, Schachbundesliga 2016

Ivanchuk – Krassowizkij after 21….gxh5

Can you spot the killing blow here? In his annotations to the game, Jaro stated that he was mainly calculating the natural 22.Qxh5, when White has a small plus, but nothing more. Instead, Ivanchuk found the crushing move 22.f4-f5!, opening-up the position. White’s pieces are perfectly placed, whereas Black’s knight on a6 won’t participate in time. It is not a forced win at this point, but the engine already gives +2.70. If you don’t believe it, just try (and fail!) to find a good defense for Black…

Start of the game Ivanchuk - Krassowizkij, Schachbundesliga 2016

Ivanchuk concentrating at the start of his game against Griesheim’s Krassowizkij | photo: Philipp Spitzl

Board 2 saw the game GM Gledura, BenjaminGM Grabarczyk, Miroslaw, which ended in a draw. I have to admit that I hadn’t heard of this Hungarian prodigy before. Probably I should study more carefully the official Schachbundesliga-website, which announced Trier’s newest team-member already in May.
Miroslaw was obviously surprised somewhere in the opening, because he had spent much more time than his young opponent. When I took a look at their board around move 20, I thought Miroslaw would be in huge trouble already.

Grabarczyk - Gledura, Schachbundesliga 2016

Position after 20.Bg5-e3

Miraculously, White is still ok here, even when Black’s bishop pair looks incredibly powerful. Even 20….Nxa2 is a possibility. Feel free to comment below, I’m curious to understand this position.

Another draw was agreed between GM Piotr Bobras and GM Marcin Tazbir. This one was pretty dull, however, as was clear from the start. Two compatriots with the exact same Elo playing the Berlin Defence… draw after 23 moves.

Much more tension was once more in IM Lukasz Jarmula‘s White game against Trier’s substitute IM Felix Graf. Maybe you remember the infamous Power-Rangers gif from Part I. Don’t worry, I spare you a similar one today, even if it would be fitting. Kudos to Felix, though, who initiated complications on move 6 with a curious pawn sacrifice in the French Defence.

Jarmula - Graf, Schachbundesliga 2016

Black has just played the pawn sacrifice 6….b7-b5

This is pretty rare, but not a novelty. There are 37 games in the database, of which 10 were played by Felix Graf and 2 by Griesheim’s Jaroslaw Krassowizkij! Well, well, what a coincidence
Even though Lukasz was probably not prepared, he played in the most reasonable way and managed to outplay his opponent. Black’s king got stuck in the middle, which is really the opposite of what you want against an attacking player. Can you spot the game-ending move?

last move of Jarmula - Graf, Schachbundesliga 2016

White to move

Boards 5-8

On board 5 I played the English mathematician GM Dr. Stewart Haslinger with the black pieces. I would like to show you a blunder that occurred with little time left.

Haslinger - Walter, Schachbundesliga 2016

Black played 29….Ra5-b5 attacking the bishop on b3. There’s nothing more natural than 30.Bb3-c4, right?

White has the possibility to play the decisive 30.e5! here, as after 30….Rxb3 White is winning with 31.Rxd6! Note that White’s queen can also check from the d3-square, and is not obliged to check from f5! As mentioned above, you can see my comments in the pgn-viewer. In the end, I was lucky to escape.

Haslinger - Walter, Schachbundesliga 2016

Haslinger (White) and Walter (Black) before round 4 | photo: Philipp Spitzl

Julius Grimm had another strong opponent with GM Lukasz Cyborowski (Elo: 2524). The latter played a rare and greedy line of what became a semi-slav opening. It is instructive how he exploited the white-squared weaknesses in Julius’ camp. Julius tried to get an attack going by 18.f2-f4 and 19.g2-g4, but the Grandmaster reacted precisely.

Grimm - Cyborowski, Schachbundesliga 2016

Black played 22….Nd5-e7 even though the rook is hanging.

In the diagram, White already has a lost position after 22….Ne7. White’s king is too weak, considering the permanent threat of Qd8-d5.

Board 7, GM Pawel JaraczRonald Köhler, saw a typical Sicilian-Sveshnikov middlegame with opposite coloured bishops. This is certainly unpleasant to play for Black and I assume from White’s perspective it would be to the liking of a certain Magnus Carlsen. Ronald defended well until the following moment.

Jaracz - Köhler, Schachbundesliga 2016

Jaracz – Köhler after 34 moves

Here he decided to play 34….f6, which weakens the important white squares around the king. Pawel Jaracz played 35.Qd3 accordingly, threatening 36.Qd5. Unfortunately, there is no real defence against this idea, since the queen has to protect the a5 pawn as well. 1-0 after 42 moves.

Last but not least Griesheim’s young talent Vinzent Spitzl managed to bring home another half point against an opponent, who was rated 219 points higher! The game wasn’t exciting, but it doesn’t has to be. After 21 moves in the Caro-Kann defence, IM Rüdiger Seger had no reason to play on in a very equal position. This sealed the 3rd draw for Vinzent in this Schachbundesliga season.

Spitzl - Seger, Schachbundesliga 2016

Solid draw on board 8: Vinzent Spitzl and IM Rüdiger Seger | photo: Philipp Spitzl

What comes next

For the time being, I have a strong dislike to show you the table of the Schachbundesliga. But if you are curious, you can click here. On December 3rd/4th, we will play the next two rounds in the famous Hockenheim-Ring. You probably know it from Formula 1, but car racings are not the only high-speed sport there. I’m expecting some rapid opening moves. On Saturday we will play the team of Speyer-Schwegenheim and on Sunday we will most likely beat OSG Baden Baden. Or not. Anyhow, it will be exciting!