Celebrating chess: the Bundesliga plays final rounds in Berlin

by Johannes Fischer
5/4/2017 – In tournaments Fabiano Caruana, Levon Aronian, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Vishy Anand are rivals. But from 29. April to 1. May they joined forces and met in Berlin to help turning the final three rounds of Germany's prestigious team competition, the Bundesliga, into a real chess festival. They also helped their team, the OSG Baden-Baden, to win the event more than convincingly.

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The Bundesliga is one of the world’s strongest team competitions. On seven weekends from September to April 16 teams play a 15-round all-play-all tournament. Each match is played on eight boards but each team can nominate up to 16 players – from any federation. The team with the most team points at the end of the season is new German Team Champion, the four teams with the least number of points are relegated.

This year the final three rounds of the season were played in Berlin. The club of Schachfreunde Berlin organized the “Zentrale Endrunde”, the “Central Final Round”. Moreover, the “Frauenbundesliga”, the Women’s League, also played its last three rounds in Berlin. The many international top players, the strong German amateurs and the many spectators who came to see high class chess or meet old friends turned the three days in Berlin into a real chess festival.

However, the fight for the title had been decided long before. The OSG Baden-Baden, which is sponsored by GRENKE Leasing, was by far the strongest team and dominated the league from beginning to end. Before the final weekend the OSG had won all its matches and with three rounds to go the team was five team-points ahead of its rivals. But although Baden-Baden was almost certain to win the title they still brought their stars to the finals. In the end, the OSG had won all matches of this season and finished with a score of 30-0 team points and 92.5 from 120 possible board points.

Here's an interview Georgios Souleidis conducted with Vishy Anand, who has already won a couple of team-titles with the OSG.

And here is what Rustam Kasimdzhanov had to say about the Bundesliga:

Second place went to the team of Hockenheim. Hockenheim’s most prominent player is former World Champion Anatoly Karpov who played on board one in Berlin and helped his team to become Vice-Champion.

Anatoly Karpov used his visit in Berlin to sign books - and DVDs...

Master Class Vol.6: Anatoly Karpov

On this DVD, a team of experts looks closely at the secrets of Karpov’s games. In more than 7 hours of video, the authors examine four essential aspects of Karpov’s superb play.

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Final standings

 1. OSG Baden Baden           15 30  92½ 
 2. SV Hockenheim             15 24  77 
 3. SG Solingen               15 22  75½ 
 4. SK Schwäbisch Hall        15 22  70 
 5. SV Werder Bremen          15 21  69 
 6. SV Mülheim Nord           15 19  61½ 
 7. USV Dresden               15 17  68½ 
 8. SG Trier                  15 17  63½
 9. Hamburger SK              15 16  62 
10. Schachfreunde Berlin      15 12  58 
11. DJK Aachen                15 11  52½ 
12. MSA Zugzwang              15  8  41½ 
13. FC Bayern München         15  7  46 
14. Speyer-Schwegenheim       15  5  42½ 
15. SV Griesheim              15  5  40 
16. SK König Tegel            15  4  40 

Theoretically, the four teams finishing last have to leave the league. However, in practice relegation does not necessarily mean relegation. Playing in the Bundesliga is expensive and year after year clubs waive their right to play in the first league – which allows the officially relegated teams to stay in the league.

This year the team of the SG Trier (which had finished on place eight) made the headlines by announcing its withdrawal from the Bundesliga. Citing difficulties with the club, the players opted for a “Trexit” and decided to leave the Bundesliga – next year they want to start in Britain’s team competition, the 4NCL. This unexpected turn of events helped the team of Bavaria Munich to escape relegation.

Frauenbundesliga

In the Frauenbundesliga the team of Schwäbisch Hall prevented a complete triumph of the OSG Baden-Baden by finishing first, one point ahead of its rivals.

Final standings

  Team TP BP
1. SK Schwäbisch Hall 21 51
2. OSG Baden-Baden 20 51½
3. SC Bad Königshofen 15 38
4. SF Deizisau 14 40
5. Hamburger SK 14 38½
6. Rodewischer SM 12 39
7. Karlsruher SF 10 30½
8. SK Lehrte 10 30
9. SV Medizin Erfurt 6 21
10. TuRa Harksheide 4 21
11. SG Augsburg 4 19
12. FC Bayern München 2 16½

Georgios Souleidis interviews Viktoria Cmilyte

Photos and videos: Pascal Simon

Download all games from the Bundesliga season 2016/2017...



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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