A glorious finish of the Schachbundesliga season took place in Berlin last weekend. Both open and women section were played altogether in Maritim hotel in the city centre under excellent conditions.

Caruana + MVL

World’s no. 3 and 4 Caruana and MVL photo: Theo Heinze

In the open section Baden-Baden didn’t leave any doubt which team is the best. To make sure they would not only win back the title but also demolish SG Solingen that could interrupt Baden Baden’s series of 10 titles in a row last year. In order to achieve this goal the team played with no less than four top-ten players (Caruana, Vachier-Lagrave, Aronian, Anand)!

Anand and Aronian

Aronian (left) and Anand photo: Theo Heinze

On the contrary, my team’s task was a lot tougher which is indicated by the following ranking after round 12:

 1. OSG Baden Baden 12 24 71½
 2. SV Hockenheim 12 19 61½
 3. SG Solingen 12 18 62½
 4. SK Schwäbisch Hall 12 18 57½
 5. SV Mülheim Nord 12 17 52½
 6. USV Dresden 12 15 57
 7. SV Werder Bremen 12 15 54
 8. Hamburger SK 12 12 47½
 9. SG Trier 12 11 47½
10. DJK Aachen 12 11 44
11. Schachfreunde Berlin 12 10 48
12. Speyer-Schwegenheim 12 5 37½
13. FC Bayern München 12 5 34½
14. SV Griesheim 12 4 31½
15. SK König Tegel 12 4 31½
16. MSA Zugzwang               12 4 29½

Ranking after 12 rounds

The situation seemed clear. With three rounds to go we would need to beat FC Bayern Munich in round 13, thus overtake four teams to reach the saving rank 12. As all other teams from the bottom had played each other already it was likely they would all lose their remaining matches.

Saturday

Luckily for us, FC Bayern’s top boards Michael Bezold and Klaus Bischoff (who was doing on-site live commentary) were missing. We still went into the match as the underdog but it was not as obvious anymore. I personally could only follow the games online due to a friend’s wedding I was attending. It all started with a huge shock when my team mate Christian Schramm (who wasn’t playing either) wrote an email asking what in god’s name happened to our team line-up. And indeed, when I checked the running games online the names of basically all substitues appeared including mine! Having said that, I had the strange occasion to watch myself playing live against IM Schenk while being at a friend’s house preparing for a wedding. However, at least, I knew the pairings would be wrong. Finally, it was corrected and a thrilling afternoon could start.

My team had a dream start and quickly took the lead after Swedish IM Linus Johansson (who culminated his season with a GM norm before this game) commited a huge blunder against GM Gerry Hertneck after only a few moves. The latter decided to play in Berlin only a few weeks earlier despite of an imminent launch of a new IT system for the municipality of Munich that he accounts for. Wise decision Gerry!

After our top scorer Robert Zysk added another win against the other Swedish IM Philipp Lindgren the match was decided. Only Stefan Bromberger on board one was in trouble but even survived a lost position after a complex kings-indian against IM Fedorovsky.
So I actually had one more reason to speed up my alcohol consumption at the wedding.

Sunday

The next day we played against Trier. During the match it became public that Trier would retreat from Schachbundesliga to play in the somewhat more liberal English 4NCL. Honestly speaking, I still haven’t quite understood the reasons and ideas behind it but honestly speaking it sounds pretty strange to me.
In any case, our team had a bad day, didn’t really get a chance and finally lost clearly 2-6.

Monday

As Bayern Munich surprisingly beat Aachen we got overtaken again and fall back to 13th rank. With the retreat of Trier, however, it was clear that 13th rank would be sufficient to avoid relegation. Still, we wanted to put up a good fight in our last match against Aachen and I personally was eager to contribute to this after probably the longest period without winning a classical game in the last two decades. In fact, both worked very well!

Besides a convincing win by Dr. Falk Hoffmeyer, Stefan Bromberger exploited a risky manoeuvre by legendary GM Julio Granda, who just beat Giri in a sensational game in the Schachbundesliga a couple of weeks ago. Meanwhile, I benefited from my opponents blunder when he sacrificed an exchange and didn’t get the intended compensation due to a tactical oversight. What a nice feeling to win a game – almost forgot about it…!

You can watch an interview I gave right after the game which is held in German though.

German readers might also enjoy a detailed report provided by my team mate Christoph Eichler here.

With this win, we’ve got the right to play another season in the Schachbundesliga. An awesome result that we honestly hardly dreamed of before and yet during most of the season. From my personal perspective as team captain I guess our excellent team atmosphere had a considerable impact on our achievement. We also enjoyed huge support by our club and last but not least by our sponsor Roman Krulich (Krulich Immobilien) who has supported our team for so many years and is actually a pretty strong player himself (Elo >2200!).

What actually happened to Stefan and his team SV Griesheim? Well, they finished penultimate rank 15. However, if you consider the players ratings it is fair to say they played quite a decent season and almost won as many points as we did. Unfortunately, they could not win the “big points”.

In the women’s section Schwäbisch Hall took the title with a phenomenal score by Daimante Daulyte of 9/9. The favourite team of OSG Baden Baden with 5 (!) grandmasters Kosteniuk, Muzychuk sisters, Cmilyte, Stefanova (who all did not play regularly though) became 2nd.

Women's Vice World Champion Anna Muzychuk (Ukraine)

Women’s Vice World Champion Anna Muzychuk (Ukraine) photo: Theo Heinze

 

Cmilyte and Kachiani-Gersinka

IM Kachiani-Gersinska (left) and Lithuanian politician Victoria Cmilyte (besides being among the best women chess players in the world!) photo: Theo Heinze

Despite my late arrival in the playing venue (where almost any of the players stayed at night, too), I still felt the extraordinary spirit of such a great international event. Entrance fee of 9€ per day appeared pretty tough though but still many people came to watch and enjoy. Many thanks to the organizing team from SF Berlin led by grandmaster Rainer Polzin! More photos along with additional info are available on the official website.

Last but not least you might also watch a nice vlog from Niclas to get an impression on what was going on: