Chess: thinkers at the highest level

Chess: Thinkers at the highest level

This weekend the chess club Forchheim starts its adventure in the Bundesliga. This is not only a special date for the chairman Manfred Heidrich, but also for one of his predecessors Berthold Bartsch, who was at the head of the SC for 23 years.

When the single league was founded, in the 1980/81 season, the team from Forchheim was still a relatively small number and far from belonging to the top. Berthold Bartsch still doesn’t see his club as a top address in German chess, but at least in Bavarian chess. “The chance of staying in the league is minimal”, he dampens possible expectations – but he doesn’t want to rule anything out either.

Top foreigners

Whereby one has to know that many top clubs keep expensive foreign chess players by sponsorship money who often even give guest performances at several clubs at the same time. This system needs some getting used to – not only if you have an eye on the regulations in soccer – but it is also partly explainable due to the considerably smaller number of rounds of matches.

Such top players sometimes come from far away – which is the case in table tennis with the “bought-in” players Chinese are, in chess these are mainly, but not only Indians. Whether this is good for the sport itself is another matter. Because these professional travelers in the matter of chess represent a power, but are not necessarily beneficial for the club life itself. After the sponsorship money dried up, these players are gone, the displaced local players possibly also in the meantime, and the club is considerably worse off than before.

Via personal contacts

The SC never took this path with the current honorary chairman Berthold Bartsch. He rather relied on a grown, down-to-earth team with players who contribute well to the club. Through his personal contacts and a good concept, he tied many players from the region to the club, which in conjunction with the individual Forchheim talents caused the upswing and after many years are still the core group and the Bundesliga squad today.

Together with Berthold Bartsch, who returned to Forchheim in 1985, Hans-Jurgen Dores from Ebermannstadt joined the club and took part in all sporting developments of the club with the then new SC chairman and team captain. In 1992, Hans Niedermaier, another player from Forchheim, returned to the club. In 1993, after the promotion to the 2. League, the current chairman Manfred Heidrich and Vlastimil Jansa from Grundig Nuremberg joined the team from Erlangen. Both contributed a lot to the stabilization of the team on the German level. In 1996, Jorn Bade from Berlin, who had moved to Bavaria, joined the club. Furthermore, in 1997, with Johannes Zwanzger from Kirchehrenbach and Michael Prusikin from Furth, two highly talented youth players who contributed to the further development of the top team. Michael Prusikin matured to a grandmaster at the SC.

A fighter at the board

Berthold Bartsch, whose father Helmut was the founding chairman of SC Forchheim, is a fighter at the chessboard in any case. Since 1976 – with the exception of the years when Forchheim was not yet ready – he has been playing competitions at the German level. When he reached this level after his starting years at VfB Forchheim with the transfer to TB Erlangen and the subsequent promotions, the Bundesliga was still divided into four divisions. Two years in the first division in Erlangen were followed by three years in the now single-division first division. league in Marktheidenfeld and then three years at SC Bamberg with the highlight of winning the German Team Cup.

Professional burdens

He was drawn back to Forchheim not only by professional burdens. The SC was then still in the 2. District league. Then there were five promotions almost in a row “and after eight years we were in the 2. Bundesliga and have remained so almost continuously since 1993”, Berthold Bartsch sums up the meteoric rise of the SC.

. In order to give as many players as possible opportunities to play in the 1. League and due to the rotation required by this, Berthold Bartsch will also join the second team with some other players this season. The stakes in both teams have to be carefully weighed against each other. Because who plays too often in the higher team, loses his right to play in the lower leagues. The second team of the SC plays in the regional league, the fifth-highest division.

The start in the Bundesliga will be a double match day, where the Forchheim team will compete with the teams from Solingen (Saturday, 2 p.m.) and Wattenscheid (Sunday, 10 a.m.) at home (Rathaussaal). The opponent from Solingen has something in common with Hamburger SV in soccer: the team is considered a “Bundesliga dinosaur,” says Harald Riemer, has been there since the single-track Bundesliga came into existence.

Forchheim home games also in Berlin

To somewhat minimize long trips to venues in the Bundesliga, a match mode was chosen with a peculiar pairing that allows clubs to play two competitions at one weekend venue. The couple’s home competitions take place alternately at the home of both partners. Due to the fact that there are only two of the 16 first division teams in the whole of eastern Germany and in Bavaria and Wurttemberg, Forchheim now has “home games” as well in Berlin to carry out.

After the 2002/03 season, when the SC already had a fitting 25. club anniversary, the chess club Forchheim again offers all interested chess friends competitions with international top players. And Berthold Bartsch is looking forward to exciting games with his Forchheim players.

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