Austria also has a Bundesliga for chess, usually described as the Bundesliga OST (OST=Osterreich), but for the purposes of this article, reference is made only to the German league.
16 teams are made up of squads of up to 16 players, from which the manager selects a match-day team of 8, depending on rating, form and of course, availability. Team members may be male or female, but there is also a separate Bundesliga for women's chess.
The season starts in October and ends in April. Venues for matches alternate between the participating clubs to minimise or equalise travel commitments for players. Many of the titled professionals are paid an appearance fee and/or travel expenses.
Each playing weekend normally comprises 2 matches for each team, played on consecutive days. Hence, four venues play host to 2 matches on each of the 2 days. Over the course of the season there are 15 rounds, in order that all teams play each other once.
The 8 players in question were: Viswanathan Anand, Peter Svidler, Alexei Shirov, Etienne Bacrot, Magnus Carlsen, Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu, Pentala Harikrishna and Francisco Vallejo Pons. The remaining squad members ensured that absent star players were not missed too much. Top quality GMs Peter Heine Nielsen, Sergei Movsesian and Michal Krasenkow were just three of the players standing by.
Based on Elo rating, the closest threat to the champions were likely to be SG Porz, TSV Bindlach-Aktionar and Werder Bremen. Predictably, OSC Baden-Baden successfully defended their title, whereas Werder Bremen faded badly after a good start and so a close fight developed for the remaining places. Unexpectedly, Hamburger SK confounded the ratings to take second place, due to sterling performances by a number of their players. The team's Polish contingent Radoslav Wojtaszek and Robert Kempiński, both scored heavily and Kempinski went through the entire season without losing a game, despite playing every round. Lower down the order, Germans Dirk Sebastian and Thies Heinemann also contributed well.
SG Porz and TSV Bindlach-Aktionar finished in third and fourth places respectively, with outstanding performances coming from Loek van Wely (also undefeated) for Porz and Vladimir Baklan and David Baramidze for Bindlach.
Teams finishing in the top 4 places in recent seasons were as follows:
2006/7 - 1. OSC Baden-Baden | 2. Hamburger SK | 3. SG Porz | 4. Bindlach Aktionar
2005/6 - 1. OSC Baden-Baden | 2. Werder Bremen | 3. SG Porz | 4. SG Solingen
2004/5 - 1. SV Werder Bremen | 2. SG Porz | 3. OSC Baden-Baden | 4. TV Tegernsee
2003/4 - 1. SG Porz | 2. SC Baden-Oos | 3. TV Tegernsee | 4. SV Werder Bremen
4NCL - the British based Four Nations Chess League.