Frankfurt-West celebrates 100th birthday with Chess960 festival

by Hartmut Metz
7/9/2024 – The German Chess Club Frankfurt-West celebrated its 100th birthday with a big Chess960 festival and invited to the "9th Open German Rapid Chess Championship in Chess960". Nearly 400 chess fans, including numerous grandmasters and many young chess fans, followed the call. | Photos: Dariusz Gorzinski

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Vitaly Kunin German champion in Chess960

Number of participants doubled to 158 players / 42 title holders add value to Frakfurt-West's anniversary tournament

Chess960 is growing in popularity. This was also evident at the jubilee club, which was the first to give the chess variant a big boost: The SC Frankfurt-West celebrated its 100th anniversary and returned to its Chess960 roots. The club's oldest predecessor was founded in 1924, and in 1989 the SK Unterliederbach and the SC Sindlingen merged to form the "innovative chess power in the west of Frankfurt", as the club's driving force Hans-Walter Schmitt calls his baby.

The Stadthalle in Frankfurt-Zeilsheim once again shook to the loud boxing sounds of the ubiquitous club anthem "Go West" by the Pet Shop Boys. It was here that the successful series of rapid chess events, and later especially that of Chess960, began.

The Frankfurt Chess Classic (FCC) had also quickly focused on Fischer Random Chess (FRC). Schmitt liked the idea of his chess hero Bobby Fischer to draw the starting position from 960 starting possibilities in order to get a grip on the overflowing flood of opening theory. After its premiere on 9 June 1996 in the inn "Zur Sonne" in Schollbrunn, Chess960, as it was later called by the organisers, became an integral part of the annual tournament highlight in Germany. 17 years later, in 2010, the era ended in the Rheingoldhalle in Mainz as the Chess Classic Mainz.

The driving forces behind the event

371 participants thanks to high youth participation

Now the 100 year old club has returned to the roots of its success. Together with the Chess Tigers, the Westerners hosted the 9th Open German Rapid Chess Championship in Chess960. The number of participants literally exploded: compared to 2023 in Bad Soden, when 78 players took to the boards, the number of participants doubled to 158! That's still a remarkable 60 more than the previous record before the coronavirus, set in Wiesbaden in 2019. In addition, a further 213 participants took part in the children's (U10), youth (U14) and junior (U18) categories. This brought the total number of participants to an impressive 371, but above all, in addition to the numerous amateurs, there was not only mass, but also class at the start: 42 title holders took up the challenge at Chess960, including twelve Grandmasters and twelve International Masters.

German Grandmaster Klaus Bischoff gave a simul

Anna Zatonskih wins women's prize

Tournament favourite Daniel Fridman (2591 Elo) got off to a furious start with four wins, before a draw and two defeats dropped him down to 31st place - he even ended up in second place behind his wife, Anna Zatonskih, in the intra-family ranking. The US national player narrowly won the women's prize with 5.0/7 ahead of Inna Agrest.

Fridman's run was halted by German Grandmaster Michael Prusikin in round six. In the end, Prusikin finished with 6.0/7, and in the final round he only drew against the strong FM Igor Zuyev from Heusenstamm. This draw cost Prusikin dearly - he finished half a point behind Kunin, and had he won against Zuyev in the last round, Prusikin would have won the tournament on tiebreak.

Anna Zatonskih (left)

Kunin concedes only one draw

It was Vitaly Kunin, who secured his place in the sun. The player from Mörlenbach put in a convincing performance. The fourth seeded Grandmaster only drew with Fridman in the fifth round. With victories over fellow GMs Gleb Dudin (Deggendorf) and Dutchman Erik van den Doel, who both finished with 5.5/7, Kunin defended his top position and was crowned Chess960 Champion with 6.5 points.

Erik van den Doel (left) and Vitaly Kunin (right). Daniel Fridman sits next to van den Doel.

Chess legend Artur Jussupow finishes second

Kunin's closest rival Artur Jussupow missed out on gold by drawing with Dudin and Zuyev in rounds five and six. But thanks to his better tiebreak, the former World Championship candidate finished just ahead of Prusikin and young German FM Kevin Haack, who both scored 6.0/7.

These results reveal the only weakness of the tournament: there were almost no top pairings in the seven rounds and the top three did not have to play each other. Nine rounds would have solved this problem.

The winners

Ingrid Lauterbach, President of the German Chess Federation (DSB), secured bronze in the women's competition. The long-time English national player, who is living in Frankfurt, scored 4.0/7.

Ingrid Lauterbach with her trophy (center)

Another clear win for the Chess Tigers in the team competition

The team competition went once again to the Chess Tigers, led by Jussupow and Prusikin. Together with FM Bennet Hagner and Grandmaster Klaus Bischoff, who each scored five points, they brought 22 points to the table. The SV 1920 Hofheim was not far behind. The 19 points were contributed by Haack, FM Patrick Burkart (5), Lloyd Shang Burkart and FM Reinhard Zunker (both 4). This was enough to win the silver medal ahead of the SG Leipzig. Their 18.5 points were scored by FM Hendrik Hoffmann (5), IM Alex Dac-Vuang Nguyen, Leonard Richter and Laurin Haufe (all 4.5).

Peter Steinbrenner excels in the U10

The Kids Open (U10) was won by Peter Steinbrenner from Kaiserslautern, who already has an Elo rating of 1979 at such a tender age, with 6.5/7. In the U14, Lloyd Shang Burkart from Hofheim only conceded one draw. In the U18 category, the better Buchholz rating tipped the scales in favour of FM Bennet Hagner (Chess Tigers). Christian Glöckler from Wiesbaden also scored six points - but lost the direct duel in the final round. This allowed Hagner to draw against the third-placed co-favourite Kevin Haack (5.5). Haack, on the other hand, held his own among the "big boys", where he finished fourth.

The winner's ceremony with ChessBase CEO Rainer Woisin (left) and Hans-Walter Schmitt (right)

Results of the Youth Tournaments...

Final standings

Rk Snr Name Elo Club/Location Pts  Tb1   Tb2 
1 4 GM Kunin, Vitaly 2542 Freibauer Mörlenbach-Birkenau 6,5 32,5 6
2 2 GM Jussupow, Artur 2559 Chess Tigers Schach-Förderverein 6 35 5
3 6 GM Prusikin, Michael 2516 Chess Tigers Schach-Förderverein 6 33 5
4 24 FM Haack, Kevin 2314 SV 1920 Hofheim 6 29 6
5 9 FM Zuyev, Igor 2454 SC Heusenstamm 5,5 36,5 4
6 3 GM van den Doel, Erik 2557 SC Ötigheim 5,5 34 5
7 5 GM Dudin, Gleb 2532 SV Deggendorf 5,5 33,5 5
8 27 FM Grimm, Sascha 2307 SG Niederkassel 5,5 30,5 5
9 30 FM Ochs, Daniel Elias 2267 Wiesbadener SV 1885 5,5 30 5
10 16 IM Hacker, Jonas 2391 SC Eppingen 5,5 30 4
36 CM Sydykov, Bayastan 2246 SK 1858 Gießen 5,5 30 4
12 7 IM Carow, Johannes,Dr. 2495 Sfr.Heidesheim 5,5 29,5 5
13 19 GM Haub, Thorsten Michael 2343 SV Letmathe 1933 e. V. 5,5 26,5 5
14 14 GM Glek, Igor 2407 SC Rotation Pankow e.V. 5,5 25 5
15 28 Kocharin, Timur 2297 TSV Schönaich 5 33,5 5
16 13 IM Rosner, Jonas 2437 SK 1926 Ettlingen 5 31,5 5
17 17 GM Golubka, Petro 2389 SC Heimbach-Weis/Neuwied e.V. 5 31 5
18 23 FM Hagner, Bennet 2319 Chess Tigers Schach-Förderverein 5 30,5 4
19 20 IM Zatonskih, Anna 2327 Bochumer Schachverein 02 5 30 5
20 22 FM Burkart, Patrick 2322 SV 1920 Hofheim 5 29 5
35 IM Boidman, Yuri 2247 SC Heimbach-Weis/Neuwied e.V. 5 29 5
22 21 FM Chittka, Julius 2326 Ratinger SK 1950 5 28,5 5
29 FM Vyval, Volodymyr 2289 SK 1926 Ettlingen 5 28,5 5
41 WIM Agrest, Inna 2204 SC Viernheim 1934 e.V. 5 28,5 5
90 Kaiser, Frederic 1906 Sges Bensheim 1931 5 28,5 5
26 55 Kraft, Wolfgang 2134 SF Dettingen 1950 5 28,5 4
27 11 GM Bischoff, Klaus 2445 Chess Tigers Schach-Förderverein 5 27,5 4
28 38 FM Hoffmann, Hendrik 2236 SG Leipzig 5 27 5
29 25 FM Fichter, Fabian 2310 SV 1947 Walldorf 5 26,5 5
30 26 FM Glöckler, Christian 2307 Wiesbadener SV 1885 5 25,5 5

160 players


Hartmut is an editor at Badischer Tagblatt, headquartered in Baden-Baden. He also writes for chess and table tennis among others for the Frankfurt Rundschau and the Munich Merkur. In addition, the FM of the Rochade Kuppenheim regularly writes articles for the chess magazine 64, Chess Active (Austria) and
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