Turns out there’s no “I” in “mannschaft,” either.
That’s the German word for “team,” and it was a classic bit of teamwork that helped German chess club SF Deizisau to a surprise win in the recent European Club Cup championship, held as a rapid online event this year because of COVID-19 concerns.
There were some big names playing in the event — including superGMs Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Jorden van Foreest — and Deizisau top board GM Matthias Bluebaum struggled with a 2½-5½ result against some powerful competition.
But while Bluebaum was taking one for the mannschaft, the German team’s lower boards were racking up wins and eking out match victories. In the March 30-31 round-robin finals, SF Deizisau, based in a small town near Stuttgart, went 6-1-2, edging out the French team Clichy Echecs 92 and Mednyi Vsadnik of St. Petersburg for the win.
German GM Alexander Donchenko scored a critical point for the champs in their 2½-1½ upset win over Clichy’s GM Parham Maghsoodloo in the finals. Black gets a reasonable position out of this QGD Semi-Slav, but fails to sense the danger in White’s attack at a critical juncture.
After 18. fxg4 Ng6 19. g5! fxg5 20. Bg4 Re8 21. Qf3 Rad8 22. Rae1, Maghsoodloo’s game isn’t bad, but it is White who has the initiative and a clear plan of attack for his sacrificed pawn. After 22…Nb3 23. Rf2 Kh8 24. Qf5 Qc6 25. Ref1, prudent now would have been 25…Qf6!, blunting White’s heavy f-file pressure and seeking exchanges.
Instead, Black’s 25…Qxa4?? (Black’s knight is already far from the action, and removing the queen from the defense only makes things worse) 26. Bf8! (using the control of the file to bring the bishop into play via an unusual route) Nf4 27. Bxg7+! (exf4? Rxf8 28. Qxg5 Qc6 defends), blowing up the king’s meager defenses. It’s over quickly after 27…Kxg7 28. Qxg5+ Kh8 (Ng6 29. Rf7+ Kg8 30. Qh6 and wins) 29. Qf6+ Kg8 30. Rxf4, and Black resigned facing the killer threat of 31. Be6+ Rxe6 32. Rg4 mate.
Another hero of the German team was 16-year-old GM Vincent Keymer, who scored some key victories in the qualifying rounds and then went 5½-1½ in the finals. One of his best efforts came against GM Yuriy Kuzubov in SF Deizisau’s win over the Ukrainian Greco-Notary Chess Club.
In a classic Nimzo-Indian battle, Keymer’s 14. 0-0 Ne7?! knight transfer leads to some difficult moments after 15. Re1 Ng6 16. Rb1 b6 17. Re4 Qd8 18. Nf5, with noticeable pressure on the Black position. Black jettisons a pawn to preserve his bishops and get his king to relative safety on the queenside. The lost g-pawn will provide a critical open line for Black’s latter attack.
Things reach a boiling point after 25. c4!? (Qe3, to stop Black’s next move, looks better) f4 26. Rg4 (Rxg6!? Rxg6 27. Nxf4 Rg4 28. g3 Rf8 29. h3 was also possible) Nh4 27. Rxg8 Rxg8 28. d5 Rxg2+ 29. Kf1 Qg5, but White’s faith in his own attack will prove fatally misplaced. The computer now calls it equal after the intricate 30. Ng3! fxg3 31. hxg3 exd5 32. cxd5 Qxd5 33. Qxd5 Bxd5 34. gxh4.
After the game’s more ambitious 30. Qxh7+? Bd7 31. d6+ Kxd6 32. Rd1+ Kc5 33. Qxd7 (see diagram), Kuzubov is threatening mates in one with the queen at c7, c8 and b5, but, unfortunately for White, it’s not his turn: 33…Rxf2+! 34. Kxf2 (no better is 34. Ke1 Qg1 mate) Qg2+ 35. Ke1 Nf3 mate.
Donchenko-Maghsoodloo, European Online Chess Club finals, April 2021
1. c4 e6 2. Nc3 d5 3. d4 Bb4 4. e3 Ne7 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. bxc3 b6 7. cxd5 exd5 8. Bd3 Bf5 9. Be2 c5 10. Nf3 Nbc6 11. O-O O-O 12. a4 Na5 13. Ne5 Qc7 14. f3 Rfd8 15. Kh1 c4 16. Ba3 f6 17. Ng4 Bxg4 18. fxg4 Ng6 19. g5 fxg5 20. Bg4 Re8 21. Qf3 Rad8 22. Rae1 Nb3 23. Rf2 Kh8 24. Qf5 Qc6 25. Ref1 Qxa4 26. Bf8 Nf4 27. Bxg7+ Kxg7 28. Qxg5+ Kh8 29. Qf6+ Kg8 30. Rxf4.
Kuzubov-Keymer, European Online Chess Club Finals, April 2021
1. 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e3 c5 5. Bd3 Nc6 6. Nge2 cxd4 7. exd4 d5 8. cxd5 Nxd5 9. Bc2 Bd6 10. a3 Nxc3 11. bxc3 Bd7 12. Qd3 Qh4 13. Ng3 Rc8 14. O-O Ne7 15. Re1 Ng6 16. Rb1 b6 17. Re4 Qd8 18. Nf5 Bc6 19. Nxg7+ Kd7 20. Rg4 Rg8 21. Nh5 f5 22. Bg5 Be7 23. Bxe7 Qxe7 24. Rg3 Kc7 25. c4 f4 26. Rg4 Nh4 27. Rxg8 Rxg8 28. d5 Rxg2+ 29. Kf1 Qg5 30. Qxh7+ Bd7 31. d6+ Kxd6 32. Rd1+ Kc5 33. Qxd7 Rxf2+ 34. Kxf2 Qg2+ 35. Ke1 Nf3 mate.
• David R. Sands can be reached at 202/636-3178 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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