“This event is real publicity for chess!”

Interview with Markus Schäfer, president of the Schachbundesliga e.V.

Markus Schaefer

“This event is real publicity for chess!”

Interview with Markus Schäfer

Dear Markus, as President of the Schachbundesliga e.V. you have contributed with great commitment to the fact that this year’s final round can be held again in the German capital from 28 April to 1 May 2018. Was such a decision a “self-runner” or were there resistances to be overcome?

Markus Schäfer: Above all, the organizing club, the Schachfreunde Berlin 1903 e.V., deserves praise for its outstanding commitment. The final round 2017 in Berlin was very well received, and the clubs of the 1st Chess Bundesliga very much welcomed the new edition in 2018. The 16 clubs are organised in the Schachbundesliga e.V., which decides among other things on the operation of the league and thus also on the holding of central rounds. My impression is that the players and responsible persons in the clubs are already very much looking forward to the final round. This event is real advertising for chess!

The Women’s Bundesliga then decided differently for 2018 and did not get any closer to the Berlin offer of a central final round played together (as already in 2017) this year. Are there any discussions between the league managers and what is your prognosis? Will there be another meeting of the two highest German leagues in chess in the future? Are there plans and resolutions for the consolidation of central Bundesliga rounds in the coming years?

Markus Schäfer: Another central round has been decided in Berlin from 28 February – 3 March 2019, which will again be hosted by the Schachfreunde Berlin. This event will presumably be held again together with the teams of the women’s national league.

For the time after this date there are already interested parties, but no concrete decisions yet. However, I am quite optimistic that we can continue to offer central rounds. The great encouragement of the chess fans, some of whom come from far away, strongly encourages the responsible persons of the Schachbundesliga e.V. and the clubs organized in it to continue their efforts for the realization of central rounds.

After the end of the last season you were satisfied with the organization of the final rounds by the Schachfreunde Berlin. Nevertheless, “air to the top” is always and everywhere. So if you had a wish for the organizers of such a great chess event, what would you wish for as the person in charge of the league?

Markus Schäfer: The organization was indeed excellent. What I personally missed a little was the inclusion of children’s and youth chess. This gap will be closed this year with the participation of the Jugendbundesliga Nord, whose teams play simultaneously and in the same hall as the 16 teams of the 1st German Chess League. In addition, the Berlin Chess Association organizes the Open Berlin Youth Fast Chess Championships, which will hopefully attract many more young players to the Hotel Maritim.

I always have in mind to combine central rounds with a varied supporting programme, which also invites to participate and emphasises different aspects of chess. Last year’s event was also successful in this sense, and this year the range will even be increased. Examples are the excellent support by the Berlin Chess Federation as well as the Lasker Conference, for which the Emanuel Lasker Society has set up a highly interesting program in Lasker’s 150th year of birth.

In other European chess nations, the competitions of the highest leagues are held centrally and compressed. Event character instead of regular efforts of the plain. Is this development also desirable and enforceable for Germany?

Markus Schäfer: In Germany, we have had a well thought-out and optimally organized league system for decades. The highest league is well advised to remain a part of this system for many reasons. A compressed team championship without regular match operations is just as undesirable to me as a consistently central orientation of all team matches. Central rounds have proved to be a great enrichment, but we must also bear in mind that the holding of home matches is of the utmost importance for the vast majority of clubs in order to be able to present themselves to members, spectators, the media and sponsors on site. By the way, we should also make sure that the mix of professionals, amateurs and young players is preserved.