Kasparov in Lüneburg, Minister to promote chess in schools

10/4/2012 – Recently the northern German city of Lüneburg saw a festive chess event. Guests of honour was Garry Kasparov and the Culture Minister of Lower Saxony Dr. Bernd Althusmann. Kasparov used the opportunity to pressure the minister into making chess part of the school curriculum. If things go as planned a pilot project will soon introduce chess as a regular subject in 100 schools.

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Kasparov in Lüneburg

The Chess Event in the North – "Ten against Lüneburg"

The big event with Garry Kasparov was staged in the North German city of Lüneburg:


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The center of the festivities was the "Ten against Lüneburg" part: ten masters, led by the world-class GM Alexei Shirov, played 25-board simuls against local players and fans that had come from all over Germany for the event.


The "ten" who played against Lüneburg: Alexei Shirov, Jonny Hector, Jens-Ove Fries-Nielsen, Aljoscha Feuerstack,
Judith Fuchs, Marta Michna, Sarah Hoolt, Melanie Ohme, Alexander Naumann and David Baramidze


The simul masters pose before the start with the Culture Minister of Lower Saxony
Dr. Bernd Althusmann (in the dark suit) and Garry Kasparov (third from right)


A little girl in the Melanie Ohme simul gets some help from the Minister and Kasparov


An Internet match between a team from Lüneburg and opponents in South Africa


The match was conducted on Playchess, with pupils of a school in Johannesburg


Using a parallel Skype connection Garry was able to talk to the kids...


... who could chat with him and discuss the games in real time...


... over a distance of 9,000 km (5,600 miles)


Kasparov used his time in Lüneburg to explain to the minister his views on chess in schools


There was also ample opportunity to discuss the subject with Björn Lengwenus

Lengwenus is a school headmaster in Hamburg and has for many years now pioneered chess teaching in his classes (there's a report on that in the national TV channel RTL). He initiated the official school project "Chess instead of Maths" and in 2009 was awarded the German Chess Prize of the German Chess Federation. He is also the author of "Fritz und Chesster", the internationally acclaimed and prize-winning chess learning software for children, which has gone on to four volumes and has been translated into 15 languages. This program series allows teachers in elementary schools to conduct four years of chess classes without having to undergo special training in the game. You can learn more about Fritz & Chesster here or by searching for "Chesster" on our main news page.


Later in a public debate Kasparov seeks to convince the minister to take action

The Minister for Culture in Lower Saxony, Dr. Bernd Althusmann, is also the President of the Minister of Culture Conference for the whole of Germany. Unfortunately (in our opinion) he says he is not currently considering running for Chancellor of Germany. He is a keen chess amateur and was very receptive to the idea of putting chess on the regular curriculum of schools. "The event in Lüneburg has impressed me," said Dr. Althusmann, "and has shown me that chess can be a meaningful addition to regular lessons. Playing chess enhances the ability to concentrate and to think logically. I am delighted that so many schools in Lower Saxony are involved in teaching chess in schools. But I can imagine that much more can be done in the future. We will look into it. I will put it on the agenda of the Conference of Cultural Ministers in Germany and will advocate implementing chess in schools." All said in front of TV cameras.


An earlier meeting between Björn Lengwenus and Germany's
Labour Minister Ursula von der Leyen regarding chess in schools

Minister Althusmann suggested that 30, 40 or even 50 schools should participate in a pilot project of teaching chess for one hour a week as a regular subject. Björn Lengwenus, who has undertaken to write the necessary instructions for teachers and lead the project, is more ambitious: "Why not go for 100, in Hamburg and Lower Saxony. It can be done, quickly and efficiently." Well go for it, Björn!


Chess training: part of the one-day programme in Lüneburg was that Kasparov would
train a very talented local player, Till Schreiner, who got a prior lesson on Skype


GM Helmut Pfleger explains to the public what was going on between the two, and
also interviews Till, who gave his impressions on what it was like to work with Kasparov


Garry and Till, whom we expect to reach GM status in the next few years


An interview with the prime time national channel ZDF – you can watch the report
(in German) here. The video is available in high quality, medium and low.


Towards the end of the day a very long line has formed, people waiting for...


... the book signing. This little boy even got an indelible felt pen signature on his trophy.


A final programme point: the signing of the Golden Book in the Lüneburg Town Hall,
where Kasparov was very warmly received by Lord Mayor Eduard Kolle


Typically Kasparov gave the task a fair deal of thought and came up with the above


Mayor Kolle showed Kasparov around one of the most beautiful and historical town halls in Germany


Garry engaged in a vigorous debate with the Mayor and his aids over this double-
headed eagle
, which they had erroneously claimed came from the House of Hannover


One of the most splendid stained-glass windows outside a church, in the Lüneburg Town Hall

Pictures by Frederic Friedel and Tracey Bolland (in Johnnesburg), Copyright ChessBase


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