Lothar Schmid turns 75
Lothar Schmid was born on May 10th 1928 in Dresden. His
father owned the Karl
May Verlag which published the books of an author (Karl May) whose
name is known to almost every adult German but is virtually unknown in
the English-speaking world. May vividly described the American West, which
he had never seen, and like no other person he shaped the average German
youth's view of the West and the American Indian.
Lothar turned out to be a young man of many talents. He
went to Bamberg to study law and, after the death of his father, took
over the Karl May publishing house. He also became a strong grandmaster,
playing for Germany in eleven Olympiads.
The romantic Author Karl May and his world of American Indians
But Lothar Schmid is most famous as a chess arbiter, the man who has overlooked
countless tournaments and matches at the highest level.
In 1971 he was the arbiter at the Fischer-Petrosjan match in Buenos Aires.
In the above rare picture you see him checking his watch before starting the
Most chess fans know that Lothar Schmid was the arbiter at the match of the
century between Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky in Reykjavik in 1972 (shown
in the picture above). Lothar was deeply involved in the match being successfully
concluded. After Fischer had arrived late for game one he missed game two because
he insisted in playing in a closed room. Schmid agreed to this condition for
game three, but the American chess genius kept adding new conditions. Spassky
became terribly angry and the match was on the verge of collapse. In this situation
Lothar Schmid grabbed both GMs by the shoulders and forced them into their chairs.
"Now play chess!" he shouted. Spassky obediently made the first move
and the match could proceed.
Schmid was also the arbiter at world championship matches, like Karpov-Kortschnoj,
Bagio 1978, Kasparov-Karpov, London and Leningrad 1986 and many other top events.
In 1992 Fischer and Spassky played a "revenge match" in Yugoslavia.
Naturally Lothar Schmid had to be the arbiter.
The owner of the Karl May Verlag is also well-known for another thing: Lothar
Schmid has one of the largest and most valuable collections of chess books in
the world. He has over 50,000 volumes – booksy, magazines, papers. It is
not just the sheer number, but the quality of his collection that is impressive.
For instance Schmid owns very rare chess documents that were produced before
He also owns the first printed chess book by Lucena, which appeared in 1497.
It is entitled "Repeticion de amores e arte de axedrez con CL juegos de
partido" (Discourse on Love and the Art of Chess with 150 Endings). This
book is of great importance to the game because for the first time it presents
the old rules ("del viejo") and the new ones which most notably changed
the movement of the queen ("de la dama", which is how Lucena referred
to the new form of chess).
In an interview with Schach
Magazine 64 Lothar Schmid chose three games of which he was particularly
1. In 1949 he played in Bad Pyrmont against world championship
challenger Efim Bogoljubov and won in 25 moves, with the black pieces.
2. At the Olympiade in Tel Aviv in 1964 he won a long
Ruy Lopez with white against the great Paul Keres.
3. In 1965 he beat ex world champion Mikhail Botvinnik
with a King's Indian in Hamburg.
here to replay these three games
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