CBM 211: Battle of giants in the Bundesliga

by Nagesh Havanur
3/22/2023 – ChessBase Magazine offers a window to the world of professional chess. 618 games (20 annotated) from the Schachbundesliga, Meltwater Tour Tournament and the U.S. Championship, plus 12 opening surveys, 8 demo lectures and several exercises for training. Annotators include Loek Van Wely, Pavel Eljanov and Luke McShane, Erwin L’Ami, Nikita Vitiugov, Nils Grandelius and Gawain Jones among others. The icing on the cake is a feature on Misha Tal with 21 annotated games.

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Three musketeers in the Bundesliga

Among all chess tournaments in the world, the Schachbundesliga is unique and it defies neat and easy description. It’s a big event, with 16 teams vying for honours, and the competition lasts months. At the time of writing Season 2022-2023 is in progress and OSG Baden-Baden is leading the table, closely followed by SC Viernheim.

Chess Bundesliga

(L) Nodirbek Abdusattorov versus Markus Ragger Bundesliga, (R) Shakhriyar Mamedyarov vs Jorden van Foreest | Photo: Stefan Spiegel / schachbundesliga.de

OSG Baden-Baden has dominated the Schachbundesliga for decades. But now who knows? Only time can tell. In this issue, Pavel Eljanov, Loek Van Wely and Luke McShane annotate their games (one each).

The following game sums up the extraordinary tension of the chess that is played.


A fighting draw!

When I looked up the database in this issue, I also found games by veterans, Alexei Shirov and Vasyl Ivanchuk. Worth a look.

Magnus proves himself

This issue also includes games from the Meltwater Chess Tour. Carlsen may not be defending his title in a world championship match, but he still wants to demonstrate that he is the best player in the world. In this tournament, he swept the opposition and came ahead of Wesley So and others. However, in his individual encounters, his rivals were not without chances. Take a look here.


Caruana scores

This issue also incudes all games from the main section of the U.S. Championship. Fabiano Caruana won the event with a score of 8½/13 edging out Ray Robson half a point behind him. This time, a host of experienced players — So, Dominguez, Aronian and Shankland — finished a little below in the tournament table. However, there were few decisive encounters on the top boards and I didn’t find the play very exciting in this tame contest.

Robert Ris takes a different view, though. He offers a “Move by Move” commentary on the encounter Ray Robson vs Wesley So from this Championship. 

Ray Robson, Wesley So

Ray Robson playing white against Wesley So | Photo: Lennart Ootes / Saint Louis Chess Club

Here is the game:


The U.S. Women’s Championship was won by Jennifer Yu, who won a fiercely fought tie-break match from Irina Krush. Perhaps those games deserved to be included here.

A Tal special

This issue also carries a special feature on Misha Tal with 21 annotated games, commentary on his play in middlegame and endgame. The opponents include such illustrious names as Botvinnik, Fischer, Spassky and Karpov, not to mention Beliavsky, Larsen, Hübner and Speelman, our own ChessBase columnist. This single feature merits more detailed consideration. Perhaps next time.

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Opening videos and surveys

There are 3 opening videos in this issue. The first offers an introduction to the Scotch Gambit by Daniel King. The second presents Ruslan Ponomariov’s analysis of a line in the Rossolimo System against the Sicilian, reached by a slightly different move order (1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.Bb5). The third is a lecture on the Saemisch Benoni by Mihail Marin

Take your pick.

What is more, there are as many as 12 opening surveys, ranging from the Sicilian to the Slav.

Riot in the Rossolimo

First, I would single out the analysis by Imre Hera on a rare variation of the Sicilian Rossolimo. In his book Coffeehouse Repertoire 1.e4 (Quality Chess 2021), Gawain Jones states that this novelty is attributed to Nikita Vitiugov who played it way back in 2017.

Now there are some hair-rasing lines here, and I am only offering a field map. For starters, let us see the line with 7.Nd5!? d6.


What if Black plays the wild and violent 7…g5!? Here we go!


Fighting back in the Grünfeld

Second, I would draw attention to an important analysis by Petra Papp in the Grünfeld Defence.


What if White plays the dangerous 12.d6!? in this variation? Petra Papp offers a terrific correspondence game with brilliant annotations:


Besides opening surveys, this issue has standard features on tactics, strategy and the endgame. I would single out Jan Markos’ demo lecture on the topic, “How to deal with opening surprises”. Practical advice for the tournament player.

Summing up

The main database of the issue has 618 recent games, of which 20 are deeply annotated. There is much else in this DVD that deserves to be explored. Apart from the GMs I have already mentioned, the commentators include Nikita Vitiugov, Nils Grandelius and Gawain Jones, among others. It may be noted that there are more annotated games in the sections on opening theory and training.

Well, practice makes perfect.


  1. More information on the Schach Bundesliga ma be garnered from their official site: https://www.schachbundesliga.de/
  2. As is known, Jan-Krzysztof Duda won the online Aimchess Rapid tournament after beating GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov in a blitz tiebreak. The database on Aimchess Rapid Tournament in this issue is rather incomplete. The tournament report on the news page shown below can help the reader in finding the rest of the games from the tournament: https://en.chessbase.com/post/aimchess-rapid-2022-d8

3.h4 against the King's Indian and Grünfeld

It's a great idea to take Grunfeld and King’s Indian players out of their comfort-zone right from the start! Let’s go 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 first and now play 3.h4!?


Prof. Nagesh Havanur (otherwise known as "chessbibliophile") is a senior academic and research scholar. He taught English in Mumbai for three decades and has now settled in Bangalore, India. His interests include chess history, biography and opening theory. He has been writing on the Royal Game for nearly three decades. His articles and reviews have appeared on several web sites and magazines.