Joys of chess: "Rechtes gegen Linkes Alsterufer"

by Johannes Fischer
4/15/2015 – Every year the town of Hamburg, Germany, supported by ChessBase, Barclaycard, and Yes2Chess, celebrates one of the biggest chess events of the world: "Rechtes gegen Linkes Alsterufer". Schools west of the river "Alster" play against schools from east of the "Alster". More than 2.500 students turned this event into a lively, funny, and very loud celebration of the joys of chess.

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Scholastic chess has a long tradition in Hamburg. In fact, many members of the ChessBase team took their first steps in scholastic chess and  played themselves in this big event they now help to organize. After all, the "Rechtes gegen Linkes Alsterufer" match has a long tradition. The first match between schools from the west and the east of the "Alster", the river running through Hamburg, took place in 1958. Since then there has not been a single year without this remarkable event.

All in all, the "Linkes Alsterufer" scored more wins and leads in matches by 36-18. However, the students from the "Rechtes Alsterufer" have been the better scorers and lead by board points. 23,806.5-21,439,5 is the overall score.

The prestigious venue: the congress center CCH, right in the center of Hamburg

The players are pretty relaxed

Playing hall

Pascal Simon from ChessBase was in charge of technical details and amongst other things took care that
the Internet connection to the London team which was to play a team from Hamburg was stable.

The athletes enter

Hans Kristian Steiskal tells the students what happens when and where

Waiting for the word "Go"

Rainer Woisin, CEO of ChessBase, renowned soccer coach Felix Magath,
Tobias Griess (member of the board of Barclaycard, main sponsor of the event),
Dr. Michael Just (Hamburg schoolboard)


Only minutes to wait...

Felix Magath, who won a number of prestigious international titles as soccer player and trainer,
is a big chess fan and never tires to praise how useful chess is for strategic thinking.

Dr. Michael Just

Dr. Elke Hertel from the Hamburg schoolboard

It is no coincidence that members of the schoolboard Hamburg were present at the event. More and more studies indicate how useful chess is for young kids. Not because they might one day turn into International Masters or become Grandmasters, but first of all because chess helps to focus and to concentrate, to think about the consequences of your plans and ideas and to take responsibility for your actions. Therefore, ChessBase does not only support scholastic chess events such as the "Alsteruferturnier" but  also helps schools to find and educate teachers who teach chess in schools.

Luis Engel from the "Brecht-Schule Hamburg", winners of last year's Yes2Chess tournament in London

Tobias Griess (member of the Barclaycard Germany directory board)

Part of the event was an internet match on the server between Hamburg and London,
that is Newham CSC. Barclaycard CEO Dave Chan greets Hamburg from London via Skype

London clearly dominated the match, winning 3-0.

Malcolm Pein explains the technical details.

Malcolm Pein is the driving force and CEO of the "Chess in Schools and Communities" (CSC) project that has given lots of positive impulses to English chess.

The Londoners watch events in Hamburg.


Talking to a not so virtual opponent.

The Match: "Rechtes gegen Linkes Alsterufer"

Team spirit

Soccer coach Felix Magath playing chess

Magath in action

Felix Magath playing

Well done!

Bishop fianchetto against pawn center

The team captain entering the results

Rainer Woisin, CEO of ChessBase - thinking of the time when he played scholastic chess in Hamburg

Side events

While the students were busy gathering points for their teams, a lot of chess events took place in the lobby

Luis Engel plays a simul against all comers

Crowning the winners

The results are checked

The cup for the team with the best result. Each team played on eight boards but there were so many teams taking part that one had to win 8-0 to have a chance to win the cup. All teams which had won 8-0 qualified for a draw - and the winner won the cup.

Björn Lengwenus, creator of the chess program Fritz&Fertig has an eye on the proceedings.
Lengwenus works as a teacher and director in a Hamburg school.
His experiences in scholastic chess and in teaching young children chess
contributed to the huge success of the Fritz&Fertig program.

And now he knows which team will win the cup...

... but asks Michael Thomsen from Barclaycard to take over to announce the winners.

Tension and excitement in the public

"And the winner is... the "Rechtes Alsterufer!"

"With a result of...

...636 to 596."

Now the winners have to receive the cup...

... and it goes to the "Louise-Schröder Gymnasium" in Hamburg-Altona

But the winners get more than the cup: Björn Lengwenus distributes ChessBase DVDs

Getting better with Komodo 8

Spring in Hamburg

Official websit of the "Alsteruferturnier

The event had a huge echo in media and press.

Some links (in German)





Der Westen


Pictures: Nadja Wittmann

Johannes Fischer was born in 1963 in Hamburg and studied English and German literature in Frankfurt. He now lives as a writer and translator in Nürnberg. He is a FIDE-Master and regularly writes for KARL, a German chess magazine focusing on the links between culture and chess. On his own blog he regularly publishes notes on "Film, Literature and Chess".


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