Private Pähtz on the attack at the NATO Championship

9/5/2007 – The 18th NATO Chess Championship is taking place in Beytepe-Ankara, Turkey. Combat dress uniforms are discouraged, the soldiers play in civilian clothing. The top seed is IM and former Junior World Champion Elisabeth Pähtz, who is leading with 13 other players after three rounds. But is this wisp of a girl a real soldier in the NATO forces? You better believe it.

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The 18TH NATO Chess Championship is taking place from September 2nd to 8th 2007 in the Gendarmerie Schools Command in Beytepe, Ankara (Turkey). The tournament follows the structure laid down by the Regulations of the International Military Chess Committee (IMCC) and is a seven-round individual Swiss tournament, with the four highest-scoring players from each country counting towards the team score. All employees of a participating nation’s Defence Department are regarded as potential team members (civilians included). Teams will consist of a maximum of eight people: one captain, one team official and six players.

Dress code: according to the rules "formal Service uniforms are to be worn at the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, the final banquet and when otherwise authorised. The wearing of the combat dress uniforms is discouraged during official functions. Civilian clothes may be worn when chess games are in progress."


A group photo of participating teams and officials


The teams march into the playing hall – Olympic style, but with a smarter step


The German team, headed by a lady (IM Elisabeth Pähtz, third from right)


Formal start of round one, with second seed Lorenz Drabke of Germany, rated 2416, facing Neset Daler of Turkey, rated 2029


Top seed Private First Class (and IM) Elisabeth Pähtz, Germany, rated 2457, facing First Lieutenant Rytis Ermalis, Lithuania, rated 2039 (Elisabeth won)


Colonel Harm Theo Wagenaar, Netherlands, rated 2121, faces Second Lieutenant Huseyin Ince, unrated, playing for Turkey


The setup in the playing hall in the Gendarmerie Schools Command in Beytepe


Elisabeth Pähtz vs Captain Devrim Alaslar of Turkey, rated 2143 (Private Pähtz won)

In her third game Elisabeth drew against Mateusz Sypien of Poland, so that after three rounds there were fourteen players at the top of the cross table with 2½/3 points.

No. Sd. Name Rtg FED Pts BH. BH. SB.
1 10 Mateusz Sypien 2205 POL 4,75
2 5 Vytautas Vaznonis 2315 LIT 8 4,25
8 Abel Carrascoso 2214 SPA 8 4,25
9 Zygmunt Pioch 2209 POL 8 4,25
13 Wouter Van Rijn 2203 NET 8 4,25
6 1 Elisabeth Paehtz 2457 GER 3,75
7 7 Michael Bon 2245 FRA 4 4,00
8 11 Frederic Giua 2204 FRA 4 3,75
9 2 Lorenz Drabke 2416 GER 4,25
10 4 Mark Helbig 2334 GER 4,00
11 32 Douglas Taffinder 2078 USA 7 4 3,25
12 12 Saturnin Skindzier 2203 POL 7 3,25
13 6 Philipp Mai 2300 GER 2,75
14 64 Samuel Echaure 0 USA 6 2,75

Private First Class Elisabeth Pähtz

Let's be honest – were you thinking that this wisp of a girl was not a real soldier? That this slender young thing with the IM title in chess and a Junior World Championship title to her name, had never seen the inside of an army barrack, had never held a gun in her hand? Then you are mistaken, and we have photographic evidence to prove it.


Yep, that's her, Elisabeth in camouflage at her unit


During basic training, where she did the full G.I. Jane thing


Can you spot the 2457 chess player? No? Well that is precisely the point


Ready to defend her country and all of Europe: IM Elisabeth Pähtz, right


Believe us, she knows how to use it! So, people, you don't want to mess with this girl. If she offers a draw, take it. And under no circumstances should you grin inanely if you manage to win.

Elisabeth Pähtz is 22 and was trained from early childhood by her father, Grandmaster Thomas Pähtz (the name, often written "Paehtz", is pronounced "pay-ts", to rhyme with "gates"). At the age of nine she won her first German championship in the under-11 age group. In 1999 she became Germany's women's chess champion, in 2002 the youth world champion of the under-18 age group and in 2004 junior world champion of the age group 20-and-below.


Elisabeth at nine, playing in the under 11 national championship


Playing against one Garry Kasparov at a trade fair in 1999


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