Reports | July 02, 2012 11:07

Aronian to play for Baden-Baden

World number 2 Levon Aronian will be playing for OSG Baden-Baden next Bundesliga season. By signing for the German club at this point, Aronian will be entitled to play for the German club at the European Club Cup in October in Eilat.

In an email to chess media, Baden-Baden team captain Sven Noppes noted that his team now includes "the strongest grandmaster living in Germany". Levon Aronian, who is number 2 on the FIDE July 1st rating list with a rating of 2816, lives in Berlin.

For many years, Baden-Baden has been the strongest club in Germany. In April of this year they won their seventh (!) consecutive Schachbundesliga title. Thanks to its sponsor Grenke Leasing, the club always managed to include some of the strongest players in the world in its line-up. This season they played with stars like Viswanathan Anand and Peter Svidler. Magnus Carlsen was also contracted, but the Norwegian didn't play.

The inclusion of Levon Aronian in an already star-studded team isn't exactly necessary for retaining the German title, but Baden-Baden seem to be focusing on something else: winning the European Club Cup. This event will be held from October 10th-18th Eilat, Israel. Amazingly, Baden-Baden never managed to win the Cup, but with Aronian in the line-up, they'll surely go for gold again.

However, Baden-Baden might not be able to include the Armenian in its team from the very start in Eilat. By winning the Tata Steel tournament this year, Aronian qualified for the Grand Slam Masters Final, which ends in Bilbao, Spain on October 13th.

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.


mar's picture

Aronian lives in Germany?

choufleur's picture

yes he does.

Creamy Goodness's picture

The real question is why did he do away with the neckerchief?! He looks so neglected without it.

Thomas's picture

I don't think Aronian will be entitled to play for the German club (Baden-Baden) at the forthcoming European Club Cup - this is in the meantime stated on the Bundesliga homepage ("Für die diesjährige Auflage ist Aronian allerdings noch nicht spielberechtigt.").
According to the regulations, foreign players have to be members of the club and have to play at least two games in the _previous_ season. If I remeber correctly, one edition had a mini-scandal when a Spanish(?) club had Caruana on their lineup who hadn't played these two games. Another team protested and Caruana wasn't allowed to play.
Another story is whether Aronian will be available in 2013 - he always played for what's de facto the Armenian national team, at that occasion called Mika Yerevan.
Aronian might replace Carlsen on the Baden-Baden team, a local newspaper report (Badisches Tagblatt) from 16th April, the day after their latest title states: "Sponsor Wolfgang Grenke sees little reasons to change the team. "We think about Magnus Carlsen, as he again didn't play." "

Bigglesworth's picture

I don't know what the exact wording of the regulation is, but that restriction may not apply to Aronian. While he is Armenian, he lives full time in Germany, so he may or may not count as a "foreign" player.

Thomas's picture

I would have phrased more carefully if my interpretation hadn't been shared/confirmed by the Bundesliga homepage. I cannot double-check the exact wording of the regulations ... it was from FIDE Handbook Part D (Regulations for Specific Competitions) Section V, and currently there's nothing between Sections IV and VI !!?? I had looked it up when I first saw this news on Whychess - but Peter's main source seems to be the email by the Baden-Baden team captain mentioned in the article.

I remember that this rule also applies or at least applied to citizens of any country living in another country. So, for example, no Russian club could contract Kramnik (who lives in Paris) specifically for the European Club Cup?

Peter Doggers's picture

Fyi, after your comment I immediately asked Sven Noppes about it by email, but so far he hasn't replied yet.

Stephen's picture

Money aside, it would be interesting to know more details about the players' contracts.

saturnz's picture

so guys, please forgive my ignorance as I live on the tip of Africa, but reading this article gives me the impression that the German league is sort of equivalent to the football's English Premier League, is this a bad comparison to make?

Thomas's picture

The comparison makes partial sense - BTW the German Bundesliga is just the most extreme case because it doesn't have ANY restrictions on the number of foreigners.

Differences are that players don't have to live in or near Baden-Baden and don't have to show up regularly at the club, many only fly in for the matches. Moreover, they can play for several clubs in different countries - so in football terms a player can choose between Chelsea London, Real Madrid and Bayern Munchen _each weekend_. Indeed, at the last European Club Cup Svidler (who also plays for Baden-Baden) represented St. Petersburg and might have played against his other club ... .

This can be criticized, but the opportunity to play in several national competitions is a source of stable income for many (semi-)professional chess players, including those who receive few or no supertournament invitations.

SetNoEscapeOn's picture

The fact that one team can just buy all the best players in the world doesn't make for a very engaging experience. They should implement a draft system.

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