Socko clinches Austrian title for Baden – again
Jenbach had been winning all their matches since November 2009. This season the team from the small Tyrolean town had to concede a 3:3 in round four to Baden, the only other team capable of lining up a team with an average rating above 2600. Until the very last round Jenbach was still leading by a match point and was heading to its third consecutive Austrian title. Then things went wrong. Or finally right for Baden.
By Stefan Löffler | Photos by Regine Hendrich for Spielend Schlauer
Half way through the eleventh and final round both teams were about to loose. Jenbach's top board Andrei Volokitin, who fared so well in the first seven rounds, suffered a poor weekend (but still had a decent score on board one). He had already lost to Bosiocic and saved a lost position against Baramidze, before he went down again against Markus Ragger.
Jenbach's Andrei Volokitin (Ukraine) had a poor final weekend
Austria's top player leads the Carinthian team Maria Saal which made good for a bad season by dominating the champion. Kreisl completed Maria Saal's 4:2 triumph by beating Boensch. At the same time Baden was facing a narrow defeat by Wulkaprodersdorf, the third ranked team. But Bartosz Socko managed to squeeze a full point out of a drawish rook ending against Kraemer. The resulting 3:3 promoted Baden to the top spot, equal on match points but ahead by 2,5 board points. Memories came up from 2008 when Socko's two wins in the final two rounds helped Baden, then an outsider, to cling its first Austrian championship. This time, the Pole scored 8,5 point from 11 rounds, more than anybody else.
Among the kiebitzers watching the game between Austrian Alex Fauland (left) and Andrei Volokitin are Jenbach captain Duftner (middle back) and Volokitin's father (second from the right back)
Another hero of the final week-end of the Austrian season was Elisabeth Paehtz. It was probably a first in the Austrian League for a woman to come out on top board. And it was quite a memorable performance, too. Paehtz beat Antoniewski in merely 23 moves and on the next day struggled down Ragger with black. Then she had to leave for another commitment. Without Paehtz her team Poechlarn-Mauerbach lost a decisive last round encounter against Feffernitz and is relegated to the Second League together with Salzburg and Kufstein-Woergl.
Village Money and Online Crashes
Here's a quick tour of the Austrian league. There are twelve teams, six boards to a match, match points count first, and a season consists of three week-ends of three or four rounds each. All matches of a round are played in the same place. Some teams never organize home matches, because they receive travel subsidies for away matches and nothing if they play at home. Nearly half of the Austrian players in the league live in Vienna, but not a single top club is from the capital. It's much easier to raise money for a chess team in small towns or even villages. The typical sponsor is a local mutual bank that is giving money to the causes the mayor tells them. A player living in the place that gives its name to the club is a rarity.
Baden played all matches in their own dresses and eventually showed its back to all competitors
The composition of the players is fairly simple: one third Austrians, one third Germans, one third from other countries. Actually, the Germans got slightly more outings than the hosting nation's players. The federation is strict on a different issue: Zero tolerance has been introduced against the will of the clubs and the majority of the players. The Austrian League was possibly the first chess league to transmit all games online. Notably, the reliability of the transmissions has never been as weak as this season. It crashed during round four when the leaders Jenbach and Baden met and again during the exciting final round.
Transmission pro Karl Theny and commentator Harald Schneider-Zinner did a great job
All photographs for this article are by Regine Hendrich and have been taken during the first week-end in Vienna, where we played on the top floor of the Tech Gate, a technology hub. The next Vienna event is up this coming Friday, 27 April, at the Vienna Children Chess Festival which takes place in the prestigious Albertina museum. We will have a multitude of chess activities for kids plus an international strategy seminar on chess in schools after the European Parliament has declared its support (program http://www.schulschach.at), and, as highlight, a clock simul by Veselin Topalov on eight boards against the top U18 players from Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary (yes, that includes Rapport). You can watch it online at http://live.chess.at. If you are near, come along!
Selection of games
Hard thinking while it's getting dark outside
Austrian league 2011-2012 | Final standings
|1||3||SK Advisory Invest Baden||11||8||2||1||18||45.5||0|
|2||2||SK Sparkasse Jenbach||11||8||2||1||18||43.0||0|
|4||12||SK Sparkasse Fürstenfeld||11||6||0||5||12||34.0||0|
|5||10||SK MPÖ Maria Saal||11||5||2||4||12||33.0||0|
|8||7||ASVÖ Signum Druck St. Veit/Glan||11||4||2||5||10||31.0||0|
|9||1||SV Raika Rapid Feffernitz||11||3||3||5||9||33.0||0|
|10||6||SIR Bernhard Glatz||11||3||3||5||9||30.0||0|
|12||4||SpGem. Kufstein Wörgl||11||0||1||10||1||19.0||0|
The first move of the season was made by elementary school student Thomas Pfalzmann on the board of Viennese "Urgestein" Ernst Weinzettl [between them is the author of this report - CV]
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