Baden-Baden Clinches Record 13th Bundesliga Chess Title
Baden-Baden with the 2018-2019 Bundesliga cup. | Photo: Schachbundesliga/Georgios Souleidis.

Baden-Baden Clinches Record 13th Bundesliga Chess Title

| 20 | Chess Event Coverage

With Levon Aronian, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Peter Svidler in its lineup for the final weekend, the German chess club Baden-Baden clinched its 13th Bundesliga title in 14 years, more than any German club has ever achieved.

In early March we covered this season of the German club championship for the first time. On the joint weekend in Berlin, Baden-Baden was held to 4-4 twice and had to share the lead with Solingen with two rounds to go.

Last Saturday and Sunday was the final weekend in Solingen, and there things went much better. Always the favorite in the league, Baden-Baden emerged victorious again.

The key match was on the first day when co-leader Solingen, the host club, was the opponent. The match was won 5-3, as Baden-Baden drew all its black games and won its white games 3-1. 

# Fed Solingen Rtg Result Fed Baden-Baden Rtg
1 Pentala Harikrishna 2726 0-1 Maxime Vachier-Lagrave 2780
2 Markus Ragger 2684 ½-½ Levon Aronian 2761
3 Loek Van Wely 2622 0-1 Peter Svidler 2737
4 Surya Shekhar Ganguly 2636 ½-½ Radoslaw Wojtaszek 2722
5 Erwin L'Ami 2641 0-1 Richard Rapport 2735
6 Borki Predojevic 2625 ½-½ Arkadij Naiditsch 2732
7 Mads Andersen 2599 1-0 Francisco Vallejo Pons 2698
8 Jan Smeets 2592 ½-½ Michael Adams 2708

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave defeated Pentala Harikrishna on board one, but less convincingly than expected from the opening he played. Something must have gone wrong with Hari's preparation, because he followed a line that his compatriot Vishy Anand had played against the same opponent last year, all the way until he was in a worse endgame.

MVL needed 24 minutes on the clock for the novelty 19.Ree2, which he remembered was good but needed some calculation. The French player then continued with a few more strong moves, won a pawn and soon had a winning position, but the remainder was not played perfectly.

Vachier-Lagrave: "When I got this winning position quite quickly I felt I need to win, and I was trying to be careful. At some point I was too careful and Hari came back. I lost some tempi trying to deprive him of any counterplay but it turned out I left him with a lot of counterplay and at some point it was even a draw. I guess you could put that on pressure."

Vachier-Lagrave going through his game for the Grenke YouTube channel.

Peter Svidler defeated Loek van Wely, who was recently elected as a member of the Dutch senate for the political party Forum for Democracy. Van Wely intends to accept this new role, which means he will be appointed on May 27.

The game seemed like a pretty smooth victory for the eight-time Russian champion, but there were some hidden errors. The fact that both players were somewhat under the weather might have played a role there. 

In the video below, Svidler first shows that he almost went for a long line that would have lost for him, and then there was another nasty tactical detail, which he noticed right after the game. 

"I tricked Loekie a bit," Svidler admitted.

Svidler going through his game for the Grenke YouTube channel.

Solingen could only put one win on the scoreboard. The Danish grandmaster Mads Andersen defeated Paco Vallejo as Black, turning a 6.h3 Najdorf into some kind of Rubinstein French where White's early g2-g4 thrust became mostly a weakening of his kingside when White made an unfortunate knight move. 

On the last day of the season, Baden-Baden maintained its two-point lead with a big win against the team from Düsseldorf led by another Dutch grandmaster, the former world championship candidate and world number-two Jan Timman

The Dutchman's play against Vachier-Lagrave's Gruenfeld felt fresh and creative (although admittedly, this author isn't fully neutral here), and the 67-year-old was OK after 28 moves. Then, an innocent-looking queen move led to a lost position, out of the blue.

With its 13th title, Baden-Baden is now the record holder for number of victories. Its main rival this season and in history, Solingen, has won 12 times.

Bundesliga 2018-2019 | Final Standings

# Team M + = 0 MP BP
1 OSG Baden-Baden 14 12 2 0 26 79
2 SV 1930 Hockenheim 14 11 2 1 24 74.5
3 SG Solingen 14 11 0 3 22 67.5
4 Schachfreunde Deizisau 14 10 1 3 21 73
5 SC Viernheim 14 7 5 2 19 61
6 SV Werder Bremen 14 7 3 4 17 62.5
7 USV TU Dresden 14 7 2 5 16 55
8 Hamburger SK 14 6 3 5 15 57.5
9 SF Berlin 1903 14 5 1 8 11 51
10 BCA Augsburg 14 4 2 8 10 45
11 SV Mülheim Nord 14 3 2 9 8 50
12 SG Turm Kiel 14 2 4 8 8 42.5
13 Düsseldorfer SK 1914/1925 14 3 0 11 6 40
14 SV 1920 Hofheim 14 2 1 11 5 46
15 MSA Zugzwang 82 14 1 0 13 2 35.5
16 DJK Aufwärts Aachen 0 0 0 0 0 0

"It has been a thrilling season," said team captain Sven Noppes. "The strongest league in the world is getting stronger and 13 titles in 14 years has been a fantastic and intense journey. It cost me a lot of hair, but in the end it's an incredible track record that was made possible by great players, a great club and, with the Grenke group, a great sponsor," said Noppes, who is also the main organizer of the Grenke Chess Classic that starts in 10 days.

Find all upcoming major events in our tournament calendar.

Baden-Baden has a chance to win both the Bundesliga and the PRO Chess League this season. Although with quite a different lineup, last week the Baden-Baden Snowballs qualified for the PCL finals to be held May 4-5 in San Francisco. 

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