World no. 2 Fabiano Caruana is one of the confirmed players
in action as the 2020 German Team Champions are decided in an 8-team,
all-play-all tournament taking place in Karlsruhe, Germany from tomorrow,
Wednesday 16th September to Sunday. That’s right – the players will be there in
person, playing classical chess, and we’ll have live commentary from 14:00 CEST
here on chess24.
The 2019-20 Schachbundesliga, or German
Chess League, suffered the fate of all major international events when the
virus struck. It was interrupted after 8 of 15 rounds, and the plan now is to
resume it only in Spring 2021. First, however, it’s proven possible to hold a
single 8-team tournament to decide a champion for 2020. It’s being held in the
spacious Garden Hall of the Karlsruhe Congress Center, with plexiglass screens
between the players. The first round is at 14:00 on Wednesday, with double
rounds on Thursday and Saturday so that 7 rounds can be packed into a 4-day
You’ll be able to check out all the pairings and go to the
games when they’re announced:
Conrad Schormann looks at what we can expect:
Caruana? Mamedyarov? MVL? The Bundesliga Championship Tournament
It will be a gathering of grandmasters, that much is
certain. And yet before the Championship Tournament of the Bundesliga,
speculation broke out: Who is playing? Will we see the World Championship
Candidates? How about MVL? How about Fabiano Caruana? The clubs are keeping a
low profile in order to make it difficult for the opponents to prepare. Only as
late as possible should the competition see who they meet over the boards.
As the world’s strongest chess league, the German first
division may be the most international of chess leagues as well. In times of
travel restrictions, the league’s internationality makes the line-ups hard to
predict. But there have been leaks. Fabiano Caruana (OSG
Baden-Baden) is likely to play since the Baden-Baden Chess Center has mentioned
a recent training session with his Coach and Baden-Baden teammate Rustam
Kazimdzhanov in Germany (Fabi
confirmed he’s playing during the Chess 9LX event). Meanwhile, French
Grandmaster Romain Edouard (SV Werder Bremen) has mentioned on
twitter that he is corona-free and ready to play.
The line-up of the Schachfreunde Deizisau is easier to
predict than others. Their squad consists primarily of the best German chess
masters, who as locals are least affected by travel restrictions. The
Bundesliga website itself has leaked that youngster Vincent Keymer will
continue his run on the 2600 Elo mark in Karlsruhe as part of the Deizisau
team. Also, young grandmasters Matthias Blübaum and Alexander
Donchenko will probably continue their duel for the top of the German
rating list in Karlsruhe – both as part of the Deizisau team.
Deizisau team captain Sven Noppes, with his connection to
the Grenke group, is a central part of the team that made the championship
tournament possible. When the first wave of infections subsided after the
lockdown in March and the question arose as to whether and how things would
continue, Noppes had initially offered to host a season finale for all teams.
“That turned out to be difficult. Some teams didn’t want to take part,” reports
Markus Schäfer, President of the Schachbundesliga.
After all, the Bundesliga chess organizers were inspired by
the Basketball Bundesliga. In basketball, FC Bayern Munich, which is also
represented in the Schachbundesliga, organized a championship tournament for
the teams that wanted to play. In a series of online meetings, the
Schachbundesliga team captains agreed to follow this model: everything set to
zero, whoever wants to play takes part, and at stake is nothing less than the
2020 German Championship.
The venue will be the “garden hall” of the
Karlsruhe Exhibition Center, well ventilated and spacious. The organizer is the
Baden-Baden Chess Center in cooperation with the German serial champions OSG
Baden-Baden and the Grenke Group. Grenke is best known as a sponsor of the
Grenke Chess Classic and the associated Opens. Wolfgang Grenke also supports
the Bundesliga teams OSG Baden-Baden and SF Deizisau.
The organization team of Chess Center Chairman Christian
Bossert, Managing Director Hanna Marie Klek and Sven Noppes, has come up with a
comprehensive hygiene and safety concept. Noppes travelled to the chess
festival in Biel to inspect how chess was made possible there in times of
Corona. The Plexiglass partition between the players, known from Biel, is now
also being set up in Karlsruhe. In addition, there is a distance rule and a
mask requirement away from the boards. Anyone entering the area must confirm in
writing beforehand that they are free from symptoms of illness.
“Unfortunately, the original idea of a central Covid test
could not be realized. That was a question of capacity,” explains Schäfer. It
is now primarily up to the clubs to ensure the health of the players arriving.
In the case of the aforementioned SF Deizisau, for example, this will require
less effort than in Viernheim, with numerous Eastern Europeans in the squad, led
by former World number two Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. Will he play? “I
badly hope so,” say IM Christian Seel, first board of underdog
Aachener SV, the only team that consists of amateurs exclusively.
All clubs have agreed not to register new players. But it
was possible to register players from lower teams for the championship round in
order to be able to compensate for players who can’t make it to Karlsruhe. Some
clubs have made use of this.
In Deizisau, for example, Czech grandmaster Stepan
Zilka is new to the squad, an indication that he will play. Latvian
grandmaster Zigurds Lanka is new to SC Viernheim. We will
probably see him at the board too.
Follow all the action live here on chess24 from 14:00 CEST on Wednesday!