Hikaru Nakamura will play in the German Bundesliga

by Press release
8/3/2023 – The Bundesliga is one of the strongest team tournaments in the world. Next season, it will be even stronger: Hikaru Nakamura, popular streamer and current world number two, will try to help SC Viernheim beat perennial champion Baden-Baden and become German team champion in 2023/2024. | Photo: Stev Bonhage/FIDE

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Press release of the Schachbundesliga (Conrad Schormann)

Hikaru Nakamura goes to Viernheim, Germany

Next season, Hikaru Nakamura will be playing in the German Bundesliga. Title contender SC Viernheim has announced the spectacular new arrival for the first board at the end of the transfer period on 1 August. The US grandmaster, who as number two in the world is nominally the strongest player in the league (unless Baden-Baden decides to nominate Magnus Carlsen, who is a club member), will by no means be a just a nominal member. Nakamura should and will play, insists Viernheim's chairman and team manager Stefan Martin in an interview with schachbundesliga.de.

Viernheim will be one of the favourites for the championship next season. In the last series, the team from a town with a population of 34,000 beat perennial German team champion Baden-Baden, but was unable to win the 2022/2023 season because top players were missing too often. As a result, Viernheim lost points to Werder Bremen and Hamburger SK and finished second in the league, one point behind Baden-Baden.

Nakamura has never played in the German Bundesliga, but even before making contact with their new first board, Viernheim had found out that the full-time chess streamer is a team player. Nakamura has sat at the board for Austrian, Italian, Spanish and French clubs, but not yet for German ones.

Getting in touch with him was no problem, says Martin. "After all, we are very well connected." Martin also has not found it particularly difficult to get a commitment from Hikaru before the end of the transfer period. The biggest problem, he says, was scheduling. Nakamura is supposed to be playing in the Bundesliga, but has a diary full of commitments. But apparently, he found gaps in his schedule that allow him to play in the Bundesliga.

Before the start of the 2023/24 season, Viernheim has cautiously proclaimed its intention to play a "major role" in the title race, according to the club's website. Such ambitions would have been justified a year ago, when it was announced that World Cup candidate Jan-Krzysztof Duda and Uzbek prodigy Nodirbek Abdusattorov would be joining an already impressive squad.

Willkommen in der Schachbundesliga, @GMHikaru!

A year on, 960 World Champion Nakamura is not the only newcomer to join the Dudas, Abdusattorovs and Mamedyarovs in Viernheim. Bundesliga migrant Parham Maghsoodloo (Elo 2719, ranked 29th in the world) has also signed for Viernheim after a season with SC 1836 Munich and one with FC Bayern Munich - a marginal move given the charisma of the new top man and his social media millionaire entourage.

Martin is reluctant to reveal whether the bosses at the growing consultancy firm d-fine have opened their coffers specifically for the Nakamura appointment, but confirms that the personnel deal was agreed with the sponsor and is very much in the latter's interests. Nakamura is a "huge gain", says Martin - and by that he is not so much referring to Nakamura's rating of almost 2800.

In the battle for the best brains in the consulting industry, d-fine is hoping that its commitment to chess will enable it to recruit highly qualified top talent, particularly mathematicians and physicists. It is against this background that the company's commitment to university chess should be understood, says Martin. And it is against this backdrop that a player like Nakamura and the attention he brings are very useful.

The world's most famous chess player after Magnus Carlsen should draw the attention of bright minds from the chess scene to the company, which was founded in Frankfurt in 2002. SC Viernheim wants to contribute to this by using the charisma of its newcomer in the sense of the sponsor. By the start of the season in October, a concept is to be developed around the club to make Nakamura's appearances as visible as possible in the media.

Translation from German: Johannes Fischer