Baden-Baden wins Bundesliga opener

by Georgios Souleidis
11/13/2018 – The defending champion of the German top league, OSG Baden-Baden, had a difficult hurdle on the first weekend of the new season facing Werder Bremen. The favourites pulled through, thanks to a victory from Peter Svidler over Luke McShane in a game that was so interesting for the St. Petersburg grandmaster that he postponed his return journey to Hamburg. | Photos: Dariusz Gorzinski

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The 2018/19 season is underway

"The strongest league in the world", the German League ("Schachbundesliga") has become even stronger this year. The team of Hockenheim has boosted its roster, and Viernheim a new strong contender. At the last minute, however, the team from Aachen withdrew, meaning there are only 15 teams in the season and Aachen is automatically relegated.

The season kicked off on November 10th and 11th, with the first two rounds taking place in the cities of Muelheim, Munich, Dresden and Kiel. Chess fans in Muelheim welcomed the top Baden-Baden squad in the opening round. On Sunday, the defending champions squared off against Bremen. Baden-Baden was reinforced this year with the addition of Richard Rapport, who previously played for SG Solingen.

Richard Rapport is a new member of Baden-Baden

The season won't be a walk in the park, however — in particular, Hockenheim and Viernheim should give them a run for their money. Hockenheim engaged several world-class players and now has an Elo average of 2710 (as calculated by the journal Schach in their season preview). Although that does not approach the 2761 average of Baden-Baden, Solingen was, in recent years, well below 2700 and yet still won the title once.

The league can also look forward to the team making the biggest leap in strength of all time; SC Viernheim catapults itself to an average rating of 2681 equal to the third place in the league and can, if it everything goes smoothly, also compete for the title. With 2817-rated Shakhriyar Mamedyarov they have one of the hottest players in the chess world on the top board.

Dariusz Gorzinski reports from the Baden-Baden home game:

Bundesliga splitter

By Dariusz Gorzinski

The game between Peter Svidler and Luke McShane in the first board fight between Baden-Baden and Bremen was very interesting. McShane chose an opening that he had already prepared, but could not remember the exact variations fully. Therefore, he spent nearly an hour on his 18th move after 17...Qa1.


After the game, there was a very interesting and impressive conversation and analysis session between the two players that I was allowed to follow. The story is remarkable in part because Peter Svidler had to take his next train to Hamburg. When the two players began to analyze, the team captain of Baden-Baden, Sven Noppes, quickly came to inform Svidler that his train would leave in 30 minutes.

Svidler reached for his jacket and backpack, but then asked Noppes to check when the next train would leave.

"In two hours, but with one change", was the answer.

Peter Svidler sat down again, said "one change is OK" — if there had been, say, four changes, then he would have left immediately.

So the two players continued their analysis for over 30 minutes. 

Svidler also had a sardonic remark to offer when McShane revealed the “gaps“ in his opening memorisation:

"Yeah, that's the problem of the 21st century, sometimes it's better not to remember anything at all."

What impressive sportsmen, these two!


Results of Baden-Baden vs Bremen

OSG Baden-Baden6 5 3 SV Werder Bremen
GM Svidler, P. 2756
GM McShane, L. 2672
GM Rapport, R. 2723
GM Areshchenko 2652
GM Naiditsch, A. 2721
GM Hracek, Z. 2557
GM Vallejo Pons 2713
GM Spoelman, W. 2572
GM Adams, M. 2712
GM Babula, V. 2522
GM Bacrot, E. 2678
GM Werle, Jan 2526
GM Hou, Yifan 2658
IM Markgraf, A. 2502
GM Movsesian, S. 2645
Wachinger, N. 2360

All games of Rounds 1 and 2


Translation from German: Macauley Peterson


Georgios Souleidis is an International Master with a degree in media and communication studies. He is an experienced journalist, author, photographer, chess trainer, editor-in-chief for the German Bundesliga, YouTuber, a regular contributor to the chessbase website, German chess magazine SCHACH, and previously blogged on his own site


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