Jubilee tournament - 125 years Werder Bremen - 75 years of chess

by André Schulz
2/28/2024 – The SV Werder Bremen - internationally best-known for its many successes in football - is celebrating its 125th anniversary and the chub's chess department is celebrating its 75th birthday. To mark the anniversary, the chess players have organised a strong tournament with a very mixed field of participants. The tournament will start next Saturday (2 March).

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SV Werder Bremen was founded in early February 1899 in Bremen, Germany. The addition 'Werder' refers to the Bremen Stadtwerder, a peninsula in the River Weser, where the club had its first playing and training ground. With almost 50,000 members, SV Werder Bremen is the largest sports club in the Hanseatic city and one of the largest in Germany (14th). Football, of course, is usually at the centre of sporting activity and interest. Werder Bremen was one of the founding members of the German Football League, and although it has not always been a member, it has usually remained a member and has enjoyed great success, including on the international stage. Over the course of its existence, Werder has won 14 national titles, including four German Championships, six DFB Cup wins, three Super Cups and one League Cup. SV Werder Bremen also won the Cup Winners' Cup on the international stage in 1992. Werder Bremen are one of the top three teams in the Bundesliga all-time table.

SV Werder Bremen was originally founded as a football club, but over the years the club has expanded its activities to include many other sports. The club now has sections for handball, athletics, table tennis, gymnastics and, last but not least, chess.

The chess section of SV Werder Bremen is not quite as old as the football section, but is also celebrating a proud anniversary this year. It was founded in 1948, so it already celebrated its 75th birthday last year, but is now celebrating this together with the 125th anniversary of the club.

Football and chess have a prominent connection in Marco Bode, a long-serving German international and top performer in a Werder shirt, who later became chairman of the supervisory board. As a youngster, Marco Bode played both football and chess at the club. He eventually opted for football, but has not forgotten chess and is happy to promote the game.

Werder Bremen is also a big and internationally recognised name in chess. The Werder chess team is a fixture in the German Bundesliga. In the 2004/2005 season, Werder won the German team championship after beating SG Porz in a play-off.

At that time Werder played with Luke McShane, Zbyněk Hracek, Yannick Pelletier, Zahar Efimenko, Vlastimil Babula, Tomi Nybäck, Gennadij Fish, Lars Schandorff, Rainer Knaak, Almira Skripchenko and Gerlef Meins. By fielding a woman, Almira Skripchenko, Werder Bremen were also pioneers in terms of gender equality in chess.

Luke McShane

Zahar Efimenko

Almira Skripchenko

Over the years, some of the world's top grandmasters have played for Werder in the Bundesliga and the European Club Cup, including Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Richard Rapport, Daniil Dubov, Le Quang Liem, Pavel Eljanov, Kirill Shevchenko, Zahar Efimenko, Jon Ludvig Hammer, Laurent Fressinet, as well as top German players such as Rainer Knaak, Stefan Kindermann, Georg Meier, Leonid Kritz and Matthias Blübaum. More often than not, however, the team management relied on consistency, playing with the same personnel for long periods of time, including players such as Zbynek Harcek, Vlastimil Babula and Tomi Nybäck, or relying on local players such as Gerlef Meins or Gennadij Fish.

Rainer Knaak

A colourful international line-up of players has been assembled for the anniversary tournament, some with names closely associated with the club. Veteran Rainer Knaak, the reigning senior world champion, will once again take up the gauntlet. He will be up against young talent Christian Glöckler, the youngest competitor at 12 years of age, as well as the likes of Pauline Guichard and Mitra Hejazipour.

Rating favourites are Szymon Gumularz (Poland), Aditya Mittal (India) and Bobby Cheng (Australia). 

The participants

Szymon Gumularz GM POL 2591
Aditya Mittal GM IND 2588
Bobby Cheng GM AUS 2571
Zahar Efimenko GM UKR 2566
Pawel Teclaf GM POL 2553
Roeland Pruijssers GM NED 2536
Vojtech Plat GM CZE 2516
Alexander Krastev IM 2470
Rainer Knaak GM 2450
Nikolas Wachinger IM 2437
Leon Pajeken IM 2426
Gerlef Meins IM 2401
Collin Colbow FM 2385
Pauline Guichard WGM/IM FRA 2385
Jari Reuker IM 2378
Mitra Hejazipour WGM FRA 2356
Christian Gloeckler FM 2354
Michael Kopylov IM UKR 2354
Martin Breutigam IM 2353
Jana Schneider WGM 2331
Daniel Kopylov FM 2328
Viktoria Radeva WGM BUL 2325
Adrian Söderström FM SWE 2318
Sascha Wiegmann FM 2307


02.03.2024 14:45 Opening ceremony
02.03.2024 15:00 1. round
03.03.2024 15:00 2. round
04.03.2024 15:00 3. round
05.03.2024 15:00 4. round
06.03.2024 15:00 5. round
07.03.2024 11:00! 6. round
08.03.2024 15:00 7. round
09.03.2024 15:00 8. round
10.03.2024 10:00!? 9. round
10.03.2024 winner's ceremony after the last round

The SV Werder plans live commentary on its Twitch Channel.

Tournament page of the SV Werder Bremen...

André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.
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