I was born in 1967 and learned the rules of chess from my father around the age of six. We played a few games until I managed to beat him. I don’t know if he just let me win or if I really deserved it, but that was the last time he ever played chess with me.
Around 1980 I got my first chess computer for Christmas, the Fidelity Chess Challenger 10. I played against it a few times, but the process of entering moves was annoying, so eventually I got bored. Finally in 1982 there was the TV World-Cup in Hamburg where world champion Karpov would play. I watched the coverage on TV, read the tournament book and got hooked. I wanted to join a chess club! Lucky for me, there was one in our town and they even had a junior team. So I asked my mom to join that club and that’s how it all started…
At the age of 15 the time had finally come to play my very first “competitive” game in the junior league.
Well, this wasn’t quite the start that Botvinnik had against Capablanca at a similar age. Sadly, my second game was even more of a disaster.
I had to make a decision: Either quit chess for good or start working on my game.
Since Christmas was coming up again, I made a long wishlist of chess books and my mother drove with me all the way to Nürnberg. There was a huge bookstore with nothing but chess. I got the Encyclopedia of Chess Openings (1st and 2nd edition!), the endgame books from Cheron, some volumes of the Endgame Encyclopedia and a few other books on openings, basically everything from the Schmaus Verlag. It cost around 500 DM which was quite a lot for my mom at the time, but she got me busy with it for good. I started to work on chess very seriously and it seemed that my studies paid off, because my losing streak came to end.
Then came another draw and the first in my long list of anecdotes.
And finally came my first victory!
This episode had a nice ending also, since despite my shaky start we won the UV-5 junior team championship to qualify for the state finals that year, where I already had the best score at board two. Here is a game played around that time:
Around 1985 I didn’t have much interest in chess anymore and took a break from the game. I returned to play active chess in 1987 and won the club championship two years in a row. In 1989 they finally promoted me to the first adult team, maybe someone noticed talent. I usually played black on boards one and two and basically drew every game unless my opponent blundered badly. My typical score for a season would be something like 1 win and 7 draws. After the team broke up in 1996 I played three seasons for Bad Nauheim.
Here is a game from the German University Team Competition around that time. The funny thing is not that I played like an engine, the whole game only took me five minutes on the clock.
After the 1999 season it became clear that the team in Bad Nauheim wouldn’t make much progress any soon, so I decided to play for Schöneck where I was offered a spot on the 2nd team in the Hessenliga with the chance to play reserve for the 1st team in the Oberliga. My score for the 1st team that year was 1.5 out of 2. Here is the win:
Unfortunately Schöneck didn’t have much going on outside the team competitions, so I roughly played ten games each year. I don’t know if it was lack of practice, the wrong approach or simply age-related, but my game has been on the decline ever since.
In 2004 managed to achieve something, that every chess player can only dream of, I became “Remis-König” (King of Draws) of the 16th International Rapid Chess Championship of Hesse. I had one win, 11 draws and forfeited the first round of the second day. There was an Iron Man in the region and the roads were blocked…
Here is the game against an opponent with roughly Elo 2400 that clinched it in the last round. Back then I was able to recall every game I played in the tournament and enter it into the database.
Near the end of the 2008 season a rather weird incident happened, which basically put an end to my chess career.
In the final position I offered a draw, but my opponent declined. I asked the arbiter to take a look at the position, but he refused to make a decision. I told to the arbiter that I could demonstrate a clear drawing method. At this moment my opponent claimed that I was talking during the game and that he should be rewarded the win. I am not going into detail on what followed next, but as the result I got suspended for one year for “unsportsmanlike conduct” by the Chess Association of Hesse. Looking back, of course I was obliged to sit there until the 50-move-rule ends it while everyone (my team had lost already) was waiting for us in the restaurant.
Here are a couple of games from my comeback four years later:
In the first game I pulled off a “Carlsen”, because I didn’t know the time control and lost on time in a winning position. Asking a teammate beforehand doesn’t help, if he gives you the wrong answer.
The next game is nothing to be proud of, but since I have already shown my first game, the last one shouldn’t be missing.
…. and THE REST IS SILENCE.
This is the official diagram for my rated games in the german DWZ-Database from 1999-2013 (Note: DWZ ~ Elo – 100):
Apparently I roughly won every second game, drew every third and lost every fifth. Since my rating barely ever moved over the years, I guess it simply took a 66%-score to keep things the way they were.
For the Elo-fanatics among the viewers, here is a nice outlier:
Note: 10 years later two famous engines played a similar game.
These are my published contributions to opening theory:
This website is totally free, because chess is still my favorite hobby. If you wish to support this project:
Play it safe!