Baden-Baden wins Bundesliga

by Johannes Fischer
10/20/2021 – Last weekend, Baden-Baden won the German Team Championship, the Bundesliga. Again. In fact, since 2006 the team from Baden-Baden, sponsored by GRENKE Leasing, only failed to win the league in 2016, when Solingen finished first. This year, at the end of a season that due to the pandemic lasted from 2019 to 2021, Baden-Baden was three team points ahead of their closest rivals but securing the title was more difficult than the final result suggests. | Photos: Pascal Simon

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Bundesliga 2019/21

Usually, the matches in the Bundesliga are played on weekends, but this year, the clubs agreed to play the last seven rounds of the season in a central location, at the Hotel proArte, right in the centre of Berlin.

After the first eight rounds two clubs shared the lead Baden-Baden and Hockenheim. Both teams had won all their previous matches and everything seemed to be set for an exciting head to head race – Hockenheim and Baden-Baden would meet in round 13. Both teams also won in rounds 9, 10, and 11 but in round 12 things went wrong for the favourites.

Though Baden-Baden had a rating-advantage on all eight boards, the team lost 3.5-4.5 against Bavaria Munich and Hockenheim lost 3.5-4.5 against the SF Berlin, a team that was also much lower-rated.

FC Bayern München 4.5 - 3.5 OSG Baden-Baden    
1 2608 Niclas Huschenbeth ½ - ½ Radoslaw Wojtaszek 2691 4
2 2572 Sebastian Bogner ½ - ½ Richard Rapport 2770 5
3 2596 Miguel Santos Ruiz ½ - ½ Michael Adams 2716 6
4 2543 Valentin Dragnev ½ - ½ Etienne Bacrot 2658 9
8 2476 Linus Johansson 0 - 1 Rustam Kasimdzhanov 2661 12
11 2462 Martin Lokander 1 - 0 Sergei Movsesian 2627 13
13 2353 Philip Lindgren ½ - ½ Yannick Gozzoli 2602 15
16 2324 Makan Rafiee 1 - 0 Vadim Milov 2607 16
    SV Hockenheim 3.5 - 4.5 SF Berlin    
8 2668 Ernesto Inarkiev ½ - ½ Kacper Piorun 2655 1
9 2631 Ruslan Ponomariov ½ - ½ Jan-Christian Schröder 2568 2
10 2644 Ivan Saric 0 - 1 Jacek Tomczak 2589 4
11 2589 Arik Braun ½ - ½ Luca Jr Moroni 2575 7
12 2576 Dennis Wagner 0 - 1 Szymon Gumularz 2534 8
14 2601 David Baramidze ½ - ½ Marco Baldauf 2511 9
15 2610 Tamas Banusz ½ - ½ Thore Perske 2445 14
16 2622 Alexander Moiseenko 1 - 0 Emil Schmidek 2385 18

A crucial game in the Baden-Baden vs Munich match was the game between Rakan Mafiee Vadim Milov on board 8, in which the outsider managed to hold his own though Milov missed a golden opportunity in the last move before the time-control.

 

In the Hockenheim vs Berlin match, Swedish IM Martin Lokander scored an important win against Sergey Movsesian.

 

But Baden-Baden recovered from this setback and in round 13 defeated the team of Deizisau, which after Baden-Baden's loss against Munich was only one match point behind Baden-Baden. Match-winner was Vishy Anand: seven games of this crucial match ended in a draw but the former World Champion found a way to crack his opponent's defenses and secured his team a very important 4.5-3.5 win.

 

After a long a complicated maneuvring game the following position was on the board. Black now played 47...Re8? which allowed White to break through. After 47...Qh5! Black should be able to hold.

48.Re2! Re5 49.Kg4 Ke7 50.Rxe5+ fxe5 51.h5 Now White's queen comes to h4 and Black cannot stop the white pawns. 51...f3 52.Qe3 Qh6 53.f6+! Black resigned. After 53...Kxf6 54.Qxf3+ Ke7 55.Qf7+ Kd8 56.Kf5 the white king enters Black's position with devastating effect. 1–0

Vishy Anand | Photo: Pascal Simon

In an interview after the game Anand talked about his win and about the upcoming World Championship Match between Magnus Carlsen and Ian Nepomniachtchi.

In the duel between Hockenheim and Baden-Baden in round 14 Baden-Baden again won 4.5-3.5. This time, Etienne Bacrot was the match-winner. He defeated Rainer Buhmann who blundered in a difficult endgame.

 

White is two pawns up but it is difficult to see how he can make progress. White's rook is tied to the defense of the knight, and when the knight moves, Black takes on b2. But Black wanted to force matters and played 46...Bb5??, a mistake that cost him the game. White replied 47.Rb7!, pinning the bishop and forcing White to liquidate into a drawn rook ending: 47...Rxa4 48.Rxb5 Rc4 49.Rf5 Rb4 50.Rf2 Kg6 51.Rc2 Kf5 52.Kf2 Rb3 53.Ke2 Ke4 54.Kd2 Kd4 55.Kc1 Rg3 56.Kb1 Rg6 57.b3 Rg3 58.Kb2 Kd5 59.Ka3

The other seven games of the match ended in a draw.

In the fifteenth and final round Baden-Baden clearly defeated Speyer-Schwegenheim and secured the title. Deizisau won against Hockenheim to become second.

Final standings

  Team Matches MP BP TB3
1. OSG Baden-Baden 14 26 77 346½
2. Schachfreunde Deizisau 14 23 74½ 303
3. SV Hockenheim 14 22 71½ 300
4. SG Solingen 14 19 67 309
5. SC Viernheim 14 16 59 271
6. SK Doppelbauer Turm Kiel 14 15 57½ 258½
7. SF Berlin 14 15 57 245½
8. FC Bayern München 14 15 51½ 237½
9. SV Werder Bremen 14 14 57 251½
10. Hamburger SK 14 14 55 248½
11. SV Mülheim Nord 14 9 50 233
12. BCA Augsburg 14 8 50 217
13. SG Speyer-Schwegenheim 14 7 43½ 214
14. USV TU Dresden 14 6 45 226
15. Aachener SV 14 1 24½ 119
16. SV Lingen*        

*Lingen withdrew its team at the start of the season

Baden-Baden took clear first and the last four teams (Speyer-Schwegenheim, Dresden, Aachen and Lingen) are relegated and next season they will play in the 2. Bundesliga. Theoretically.

However, things are not that simple. Playing in the Bundesliga might offer talents and amateurs the chance to play against some of the world's best players but each season is also very expensive. After all, an amateur team has practically no chance to hold its own in the league unless it pays a number of strong grandmasters to join the team. But even that might not be enough.

Teams with a strong sponsor - such as Baden-Baden, which is supported by GRENKE Leasing - can afford to buy top players and they can invite as many non-German strong players to their team as they want as the Bundesliga does not limit the number of foreign players in a team.

In fact, the line-up of the top ten boards of Baden-Baden (Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Vishy Anand, Levon Aronian, Radoslaw Wojtaszek, Richard Rapport, Michael Adams, Francisco Vallejo-Pons, Arkadij Naiditsch, Etienne Bacrot, and Hou Yifan) reads like a who-is-who of international chess but none of them plays for Germany.

Paying international top players and covering costs for accomodation and travel is expensive and teams often realize that the costs for playing in the Bundesliga are simply too high for them and withdraw their teams before, during or most often after the season. This season, Lingen withdrew at the start, while Hockenheim and Speyer-Schwegenheim declared during or at the end of the season that they will not play next season.

Moreover, teams that are theoretically qualified to play in the Bundesliga after coming first in the 2. Bundesliga, often waive their right to play in the first league.

Therefore, Aachen and Dresden will stay in the league and will be to play next season. If they want to and if they are willing to cover the costs.

All games

 

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Johannes Fischer was born in 1963 in Hamburg and studied English and German literature in Frankfurt. He now lives as a writer and translator in Nürnberg. He is a FIDE-Master and regularly writes for KARL, a German chess magazine focusing on the links between culture and chess. On his own blog he regularly publishes notes on "Film, Literature and Chess".
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