Where are we? | TIME ONLINE


Among the 16 chess professionals in Hamburg started for the Grand PrixThere are six Russians, two Chinese, two Poles, an Indian, an American, an Azerbaijani, a Bulgarian, a Czech and a French. No Germans!

Therefore, the World Chess Federation Fide wears the Grand Prix for the first time on the Elbe, because Hamburg is an internationally outstanding city of chess. Once upon a time, the world's first world-class chess software company, chessbase.de; For several years, the tournament broadcast website has been here chess24, co-founded by Grandmaster Jan Gustafsson, Germany's most famous in the world Chess commentator and chatter flicker; Once a year, the world's largest one-day chess tournament takes place here, Right against left Alster shore, with up to 4,240 students in the Barclay Card Arena.

No chess training at the elite school

In Hamburg lives the inventor of the most successful chess children's learning software in the world, fritz and donewhose four episodes have sold half a million copies in 16 languages. His name is Björn Lengwenus, and since he also co-organizes the Alsterufer tournament and belongs to the municipal school chess committee, a visit to him may help answer the question: Where are we? Where is our offspring? Why is the most successful German, Liviu-Dieter Nisepeanu, a man in his prime, currently ranked 92 in the world rankings? There would have to be more if you look at the smaller neighboring European countries that do not have so many chess players, but better!

Lengwenus, a cheerful man in his mid-forties, receives me in his creative-chaotic service room at the Grund- und Stadtteilschule Alter Teichweg, which he heads; In one corner is the huge black chess piece that we later drag into the school corridor to take the picture of him: a pedagogue on par with the royal game.

His school, he says, is probably unique in Germany: on the one hand a large house on a social hot spot, 1,600 children and young people in Dulsberg, a poor district of Hamburg; On the other hand, an elite school of sport, where 300 pupils train for competitions at the highest level. 14 sports, from swimming, badminton, volleyball and judo to basketball.

Accepted as poker or skat

Traumatized refugees who have gone a long way, grown up in a different culture and language; multiple disabled people who attend the usual classes; ambitious athletes traveling abroad for the 100 days of the year – that's a mix that challenges Lengwenus and makes him fun. “The performance radiates,” he says of the impact his best have on the whole. Last year, a 20-year-old graduate had a 1 in front of the decimal point.

14 sports at the highest level – why no chess? “I do not like the headmaster pushing his school hobby,” says Lengwenus. His restraint is worthy of all honor, but means: From Dulsberg go out no great masters. “The goal of the school chess is not to promote talent,” he says, “but to use chess as a pedagogical tool.” Chess promotes concentration, is highly inclusive, “everyone can do it”, it does not take up much space, it helps mathematical thinking and is cheap on top of that.

“No one doubts about chess, which is important for the school.” If you offered a poker club or a skat club for which it also needed special skills, that would hardly be accepted. Chess is deeply rooted in cultural understanding; its positive effects are recognized. So maybe you can see it this way: chess does not cause any resistance among parents; unless someone is very, very good at a young age? Then the beloved child might want to become a chess professional, and you know where that leads you to: nowhere?

No, the chess pedagogue does not see this as the reason for the lack of strong offspring and points to Germany's youngest grandmaster, the only 14-year-old Vincent Keymer from Saulheim in Rhineland-Palatinate. In fact, yes, there are already parents, two musicians in the Keymers, who have a sense of passion, and give their children their own way, even if they might have wished otherwise.



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