Solingen catches Baden-Baden as stars gather in Berlin

by Antonio Pereira
3/4/2019 – It was an eventful weekend in the Bundesliga, as leaders and clear favourites OSG Baden-Baden lined up their best squad but ended up giving up two crucial match points, allowing SG Solingen to catch up with them in the standings. It was giant-killing season in Berlin for Peter Leko, Gata Kamsky and Anton Korobov, who took down top-ten stars Fabiano Caruana, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Vishy Anand. Games, standings and great video content from the organisers below. | Photo: Georgios Souleidis

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The works

Logistically, it is hard for Baden-Baden to gather their best eight players for any given round of the Bundesliga, as all of them are usually busy participating in elite individual tournaments. Therefore, the fact that the Bundesliga scheduled their 'central rounds' this weekend worked perfectly for the favourites — they had nine of their top ten all-star players in Germany for rounds 9-11, with the only absence of Mickey Adams, who was 'replaced' by Etienne Bacrot. An elite squad if there has ever been one.

Anand and Aronian arrived in Berlin to represent Baden-Baden | Photo: Georgios Souleidis

But facing such a strong group surely inspired their opponents to do their best. The first ones to challenge the defending champions were the Schachfreunde Deizisau. Two former members of the elite took advantage of this chance to show they still have what it takes to beat the new generation of top players, as Peter Leko and Gata Kamsky upset Caruana and Vachier-Lagrave on top boards. 

Both Leko and Caruana lost very close World Championship matches in the past. In their Friday game, the Hungarian got the better of Fabiano after the American decided to give up the bishop pair and mend White's pawn structure:


31...xf4 was a strange decision by Fabiano. Peter went on to win the game after 61 moves, and gladly accepted to provide a lengthy analysis of the game. Do not miss the instructional video — it will be a half hour well spent!

The repercussion of these losses was not big for Baden-Baden, as Vishy Anand and Levon Aronian defeated Matthias Bluebaum and Georg Meier on boards three and four, while Radek Wojtaszek took down Leko's pupil Vincent Keymer on board six. The favourites had saved their skin by the smallest of margins.

Leko and Kamsky scored big wins | Photo: Georgios Souleidis

Aronian's win over Meier was particularly noteworthy, given how quickly he dismantled Meier's pet French Defence. Another member of Baden-Baden — who did not play this weekend — Sergei Movsesian took a quick look at the game:

Meanwhile, chasers Solingen and SV 1930 Hockenheim took down Düsseldorfer SK and SC Viernheim — Viernheim had Shakhriyar Mamedyarov on first board, but the Azeri’s win over Solingen's Sam Shankland in round nine was not enough to reach collective victory.

Saturday saw the big clash between Hockenheim and Baden-Baden, which interestingly finished with all games drawn. Some like Aronian and Peter Svidler signed quick draws, while Arkadij Naiditsch worked overtime trying to beat David Howell in a rook and bishop versus rook endgame during no less than 136 moves!

Solingen got their 'free day' on Saturday, when they were paired against absentees DJK Aufwärts Aachen.

The biggest surprise came in round eleven, however. The SC Viernheim countered their losses on the bottom boards — where they were highly out-rated — by getting remarkable wins against two heavy hitters from Baden-Baden. Igor Kovalenko is on 7½/8 this Bundesliga season and defeated a tired Naiditsch with the black pieces, while Ukrainian champion Anton Korobov beat Vishy Anand after only 27 moves. The former world champion was too passive with Black, and Anton did not need to be asked twice before going on the offensive:


After 20.f5 it is almost impossible for Black to save his position. By move 24, White was already an exchange up, while three moves later Vishy decided it was time to call it quits when he had also given up a pawn.

Anton Korobov | Photo: Georgios Souleidis

Once again, both Solingen and Hockenheim took advantage of the situation to close on the leaders in the standings. It is worth noting, however, that both teams won by the smallest margin on Sunday, as Meier (Deizisau) upset Vladimir Fedoseev (Hockenheim) and Andrei Volokitin (SV 1920 Hofheim) did the same to Markus Ragger (Solingen).

Standings after Round 11

  Team G W D L MP BP
1. OSG Baden-Baden 10 8 2 0 18 55
2. SG Solingen 10 9 0 1 18 51
3. SV 1930 Hockenheim 10 8 1 1 17 54
4. Hamburger SK 10 6 3 1 15 45
5. SV Werder Bremen 11 6 2 3 14 50.5
6. Schachfreunde Deizisau 10 6 1 3 13 49.5
7. SC Viernheim  10 4 4 2 12 42
8. USV TU Dresden 10 5 1 4 11 39
9. SV Mülheim Nord 11 3 2 6 8 41
10. SF Berlin 1903 10 4 0 6 8 38
11. BCA Augsburg 11 3 2 6 8 35
12. SG Turm Kiel  10 2 3 5 7 32.5
13. Düsseldorfer SK  10 2 0 8 4 29
14. SV 1920 Hofheim 10 0 1 9 1 29
15. MSA Zugzwang 82 11 0 0 11 0 25.5
16. DJK Aufwärts Aachen 0 0 0 0 0 0

Games from Rounds 9-11


SC Bad Königshofen wins Women's Bundesliga

The 2018/19 edition of the Women's Bundesliga had its closing rounds in Berlin, as only twelve teams make up the league. The SC 1957 Bad Königshofen had an undefeated season and took a highly deserved first place ahead of favourites Baden-Baden (fourth place) and SK Schwäbisch Hall (second place).

The champions from Bavaria won all three weekend matches and had WGM Tatjana Melamed as their best performer — the German played all eleven rounds, scoring seven wins, three draws and only one loss this season. She converted a positional edge effortlessly against Sonja Bluhm in round ten:


Melamed used the pin against the queen to advance the eventual key passed pawn with 44.b5. Bluhm resigned four moves later.

Alexandra Obolentseva (7/8) and Dina Belenkaya (8½/9) also had great seasons for the winning team.

The champions with their trophy | Photo: Georgios Souleidis

The biggest clash in the women's category was seen in the final round, when SK Schwäbisch Hall defeated OSG Baden-Baden after all games were drawn except Ketino Kachiani-Gersinska v. Irina Bulmaga, which saw the latter getting the crucial win after 67 moves.

Third place went to Hamburger SK, with Sarasadat Khademalsharieh scoring an astonishing 7/7 this season. The team got five out of six match points during the weekend.

Final standings

  Team G W D L MP BP
1. SC 1957 Bad Königshofen 11 9 2 0 20 48
2. SK Schwäbisch Hall  11 9 0 2 18 48.5
3. Hamburger SK 11 8 2 1 18 44.5
4. OSG Baden-Baden  11 7 2 2 16 45
5. Rodewischer Sch. 11 7 1 3 15 39.5
6. Schachfreunde Deizisau  11 4 3 4 11 31.5
7. SK Lehrte 1919 11 3 3 5 9 25.5
8. SV 1920 Hofheim  11 4 0 7 8 28.5
9. TuRa Harksheide 11 3 0 8 6 26.5
10. Karlsruher SF 1853 11 2 2 7 6 22.5
11. Rotation Pankow  11 1 2 8 4 22
12. FC Bayern München  11 0 1 10 1 14

Games from Rounds 9-11


Caruana keeps on showing he can play blitz

After losing the World Championship match in tiebreaks, Fabiano Caruana has methodically shown chess enthusiasts that he has improved his skills in rapid and blitz. He got a clear victory over Pentala Harikrishna recently in Saint Louis and now won the 2nd Emanuel Lasker Blitz Tournament after scoring 14 out of 16 points — Maximilian Neef and Jan Smeets claimed his scalp — and defeating Falko Bindirch in the final. 

The organisers recorded Caruana's win over Bindrich. Fabi proved his expertise in the Petroff Defence — from the white side!

Final standings (top 25)

Rg. Name  Wtg1 
1 Caruana Fabiano 14,0
2 Bindrich Falko 13,0
3 Jaracz Pawel 13,0
4 Kovalenko Igor 13,0
5 Halkias Stelios 12,5
6 Munoz Miguel 12,5
7 Van Wely Loek 12,5
8 Postny Evgeny 12,0
9 Kollars Dmitrij 12,0
10 Schmaltz Roland 12,0
11 Nestorovic Nikola 12,0
12 Vrolijk Liam 12,0
13 Abel Dennes 12,0
14 Orlov Andrey 12,0
15 Iljin Artem 12,0
16 Donchenko Alexander 11,5
17 Arnaudov G. Petar 11,5
18 Smeets Jan 11,0
19 Schreiner Peter 11,0
20 Moehn Hans 11,0
21 Vogel Roven 11,0
22 Baldauf Marco 11,0
23 Rezasade Amir 11,0
24 Sielecki Christof 11,0
25 Rabiega Robert 11,0

...297 players


Antonio is a freelance writer and a philologist. He is mainly interested in the links between chess and culture, primarily literature. In chess games, he skews towards endgames and positional play.


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