Mixed field at the German Championship

by André Schulz
12/7/2015 – Germany is a chess country. Though it has no 2700+ player after A. Naiditsch decided that the chess pastures are greener in Azerbaijan, Germany's number 100, Lars Stark (Elo 2436), would be number 39 in China. However, Germany's strongest players continuously shy away from the German Championship. Only eight of the 36 participants are among the country's top 100.

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This year's German Chess Championship takes place in Saarbrücken, capital of the federal state of the Saarland. 36 participants play a nine-round-Swiss, tournament favorite and number one seed is Grandmaster Daniel Fridman, who has won the title three times already: 2008, 2012 and 2014.

Grandmaster Igor Khenkin is second seed and definitely a favorite to win this year, even though he often plays one draw to many to make it to the very top. With a rating of 2582 up-and-coming young talent Alexander Donchenko is number three on the rating-list.

Other young and aspiring players in Saarbrücken are Rasmus Svane, Dimitrij Kollars, and Vincent Keymer. For the 11-year old Keymer it is his second National Championship and he is still the youngest player who has ever taken part in a German Championship.

Also taking part is Klaus Bischoff who is not only a popular ChessBase commentator and often times German Blitz Champion but also the winner of the German Championship 2013.

However, more impressive than the field of particpants is the field of absentees. For years, most of the German top players have been unwilling to play in the National Championshp - only eight of the 36 participants in Saarbrücken are among Germany's top 100. Maybe the top players shy away from the format, in which amateurs and professionals play in the same tournament. A format that is due to Germany's federal system.

There are sixteen federal states in Germany and each state has a chess federation of its own. Now the winners of each federal Championship qualify for the German Championship which usually leads to a rather mixed field in the National Championships. This year there is an elo-gap of almost 600 points between top seed Daniel Fridman (Elo 2616) and Dieter Riegler (Elo 2075), the number 36 on the list of starters.

Despite (or because of) these huge elo-differences the tournament is interesting and exciting, much more so because the nominally weaker players are often quite strong and more than willing to contribute to a spectacular upset.

One such dramatic upset occurred in round three in the game between Dr. Eric Zude and Igor Khenkin.

Dr. Erik Zude

Bernd Vökler comments the "drama in three acts":

Act I: White is smashed.

Igor gradually seizes the initiative and pushes the white pieces further and further back.

Position after 30. f4-f5

Act II: It seems as if Black crowns his powerful play with a devastating queen sacrifice.

Question: Who could resist a queen sacrifice that is spectacular and seems to win immediately?

Answer: The pragmatic player when in time-trouble.

Black just played 32….Qxb3!!!? Three exclamation marks - for the queen sacrifice and because Black found this winning move in time-trouble. The question mark is given because Black sacrificed a queen while in time-trouble. After 33.axb3 Rxa1+ 34. Kh2 Nf1+ 35. Kh3 Nf4+ wins.

However, Erik understood that the black lady might bring trouble and thus cleverly eliminated the knight with 33.Rxd3. Now Black should have insisted on saying goodbye to his queen. After 33…exd3 he is winning. Instead Khenkin played 33…Qb2.

Act III: Phoenix rising from the ashes!

Erik lives and the dragon (Igor Khenkin's king) is dead.

39.Nh6+ gxh6 40.Rg3+ Kf8 41.Bd6+ Ke8 42.Rg8+ curtains!


After four rounds Klaus Bischoff leads with 3.5/4, followed by seven players with 3.0/4 each.

Standings after four rounds

Pl. Nr. Titel Name Elo Pkt. Gegner
1. 8 GM Klaus Bischoff 2497 2505
2. 6 IM Rasmus Svane 2529 3 2499
3. 1 GM Daniel Fridman 2619 3 2482
4. 9 FM Johannes Carow 2435 3 2404
5. 5 GM René Stern 2539 3 2391
6. 4 GM Witali Kunin 2572 3 2391
7. 3 GM Alexander Donchenko 2588 3 2334
8. 7 IM Hagen Poetsch 2509 3 2288
9. 12 IM Dr. Erik Zude 2393 2462
10. 23 FM Jens Hirneise 2271 2422
11. 29   Achim Wild 2197 2415
12. 2 GM Igor Khenkin 2605 2376
13. 10   Dmitrij Kollars 2419 2373
14. 15 FM Wilfried Bode 2338 2353
15. 16   Vincent Keymer 2324 2312
16. 21   Rick Frischmann 2287 2 2511
17. 18 FM Felix Stips 2319 2 2494
18. 17 IM Herbert Bastian 2323 2 2446
19. 34   Stefan Gröger 2087 2 2436
20. 13   Alexander Hilverda 2389 2 2339
21. 31   Nick Müller 2175 2 2325
22. 24   Daniel Margraf 2265 2518
23. 25   Stephan Tschann 2258 2478
24. 27   Max Scherer 2236 2385
25. 28 FM Johannes Dorst 2204 2362
26. 32   Max Weber 2169 2346
27. 35   Kai Mailitis 2087 2333
28. 19 FM Dirk Paulsen 2303 2331
29. 33   Cornelius Middelhoff 2137 2296
30. 11 IM Christian Braun 2393 2225
31. 14 FM Martin Voigt 2342 2190
32. 26   Thomas Füllgrabe 2252 1 2332
33. 30   Enis Zuferi 2192 ½ 2370
34. 20 FM Reinhold Müller 2301 ½ 2346
35. 36   Dieter Riegler 2075 ½ 2298
36. 22 FM Matthias Liedtke 2286 ½ 2295




Klaus Bischoff

Rasmus Svane

Vincent Keymer

Herbert Bastian, President of the German Chess Federation

Photos: Bernd Vökler

Tournament page of the German Chess Federation...

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


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