Reports | February 06, 2012 15:07

Bundesliga: Baden-Baden in the lead, Aronian playing board 2

Bundesliga: Baden-Baden in the lead, Aronian playing board 2

Last weekend the 8th and 9th round of the Schachbundesliga were played in four different cities in Germany: Berlin, Emsdetten, Solingen and Dresden. We can describe a familiar Bundesliga picture: Baden-Baden is leading the German league, and Werder Bremen is trailing by a point, together with SC Eppingen. More surprising perhaps was the appearance of Tata Steel winner and World's number 2 Levon Aronian, who played for his hometown Berlin. And not on first board!

The Willy Brandt hall of the Schöneberg City Hall in Berlin | All photos © Georgios Souleidis, more here

The 8th round took place on Saturday, February 4th. The chess club of Berlin welcomed the teams from Hamburg, Baden-Baden and Trier. Especially the match between the reigning champions and the home club attracted about 300 spectators to the Willy Brandt hall of the Schöneberg City Hall.

These spectators also visited the venue because of a special name in Berlin's line-up: that of Levon Aronian. It was not a big surprise that he was playing, because the Armenian grandmaster lives in Berlin and in fact announced, at the start of the season, that he would be playing in those matches where Berlin would face their strongest opponents.

More surprising might have been the fact that Aronian wasn't playing on first, but on second board. However, it was already known before the start of the season that this way Aronian is giving the young Armenian Hrant Melkumyan a chance to play against the strongest possible opponents.

In his first game after what he described as his career's best achievement, in Wijk aan Zee, Aronian drew a Semi-Slav with Alexei Shirov. He came up with an interesting knight sacrifice which Shirov returned soon after.

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On one, Melkumyan drew with Black against Vallejo from a typical Hedgehog that suddenly got ultra-sharp:

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On the other boards, Baden-Baden was clearly the strongest team and scored five full points.

The match between Hamburg and Trier was played over seven boards only, basically as a result of Europe's current extreme weather conditions. After his participation in the Gibraltar tournament, Hamburg's Niclas Huschenbeth had first travelled to Amsterdam. From there, his Friday night flight to Hamburg was cancelled, and his Saturday morning flight delayed. Already starting with 1-0 (and David Howell having a free day), Trier eventually won with 5.5-2.5.

In this match, Viktor Erdos had a nice finish against Lubomir Ftacnik:

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On Sunday, Baden-Baden showed once more that also in this season they're the absolute favorites for the title. After the 6-2 against Berlin, they beat Hamburg, with the same score. Hamburg did play with Huschenbeth this time, who played a very interesting game against Alexei Shirov which requires hours of analysis!

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Emsdetten was the location of this weekend's top match between Werder Bremen and Mülheim Nord. Despite the fact that there was not a very big rating difference, the match was remarkably one-sided: Bremen won deservedly, with 5.5-2.5, and so they maintained their one-point distance to Baden-Baden in the standings. For the winning team Luke McShane, Alexander Areshcheko and Tomi Nyback scored full points.

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There is one more team that has more than theoretical chances to become champions: Eppingen. They are in shared second place together with Bremen thanks to a narrow win against SK König Tegel, who almost managed to tie 4-4 on Sunday. With 3.5-3.5 on the leaderboard, Tata Steel 'B' winner Pentala Harikrishna profited from a mistake by his opponent.

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Bundesliga 2011-2012 | Round 9 Standings

# Team R + = - MP BP
1 OSG Baden-Baden 9 8 0 1 16 47.5
2 Werder Bremen 9 7 1 1 15 46
3 SC Eppingen 9 7 1 1 15 42
4 SG Solingen 9 6 1 2 13 42.5
5 SV Wattenscheid 1930 9 5 1 3 11 38
6 SF Katernberg 9 5 1 3 11 33.5
7 SF Berlin 1903 9 4 2 3 10 36
8 SG Trier 9 4 1 4 9 37.5
9 SV Mülheim Nord 9 4 1 4 9 37
10 SV 1930 Hockenheim 9 3 2 4 8 35.5
11 SK König Tegel 9 3 1 5 7 30.5
12 SK Turm Emsdetten 9 2 2 5 6 32.5
13 USV TU Dresden 9 2 0 7 4 30.5
14 Hamburger SK 9 1 2 6 4 30
15 SC Hansa Dortmund 9 1 2 6 4 27
16 SC 1950 Remagen 9 0 2 7 2 30

This report was based on the round reports by Georgios Souleidis on the official website. You can download all Bundesliga games of this season here at TWIC.

Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.


Thomas's picture

Some additions:

Aronian had already played in the third round against Fressinet from Werder Bremen - to the surprise of the opponents: he hadn't played on Friday and Saturday and suddenly showed up on Sunday. According to a report on the homepage of Sfr. Berlin, Aronian's teammates "inspected" the restaurant Saturday evening to make sure that Aronian wouldn't be spotted beforehand. Bremen couldn't quite recover from the surprise and lost 2-6, despite having (much) higher ratings on 7 of 8 boards ... .

In a video interview, Huschenbeth said that he couldn't get a flight from Amsterdam directly to Berlin as these were fully booked. He considered going by train (and might have arrived just in time) but airport staff wouldn't release his luggage!?

Another spectacular Sicilian was played on board 4 of the match Trier-Berlin between GMs Bobras and Maksimenko who followed Berg - Vachier-Lagrave from Gibraltar. Maksimenko with black first improved on the previous game but went wrong one move later and was also crushed.

Finally (maybe nitpicking): SF Berlin isn't "the (only) chess club of Berlin", König Tegel is also from a suburb of Berlin (and there are other clubs currently playing in the second league).

Anonymous's picture

Thanks Thomas. Very interesting

Anonymous's picture

On Suday Aronian beat Howell with black, narrowing Calsen's rating lead

Mike Hunt's picture

McShane the 2700 amateur! Impressive.

SFB's picture

The SF Berlin website shows some photos of the four teams which met this weekend.

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