Sebastian Siebrecht: Really? 50 already?

by André Schulz
4/17/2023 – Hard to believe - Sebastian Siebrecht from Germany, the world's tallest Grandmaster, who always seems to be so dynamic and youthful, just turned 50. Yesterday, the Grandmaster from Essen, who is also a successful organiser and chess ambassador, celebrated his jubilee. Congratulations!

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Sebastian Siebrecht was born in Herdecke, a small town of about 23,000 inhabitants, on 16 April 1973. But when he was three, the family moved to a big city, Essen, where more than half a million people live. In Essen, Siebrecht went to the Helmholtz-Gymnasium, and at a young age he was already quite tall, predestined for basketball. You can't learn to be two metres tall, but you can learn technique, and Sebastian was soon a member of the junior team of North Rhine-Westphalia. He also worked as a referee.

But he had a second passion: chess. As a junior, Siebrecht already had a lot of success, especially in team competitions. At the age of twelve, he joined the SV Mülheim-Nord but only stayed for a year. When he was 13, Sebastian already took on the role of team captain and organisational duties. He soon moved to ESG 04 in Essen, which later merged with Schachfreunde Essen-Katernberg, which is still Sebastian's home club today. From 1989 to 1992, he also played for the SG Bochum 31, which at that time had a strong junior team.

With his club teams, Sebastian won the German Club Junior Championship seven times. He was also a member of the NRW junior team, and in 1997 he was part of the winning team at the German University Team Championship.

Sebastian made his debut in the German Bundesliga with the SG Bochum in 1992. He went on to play in the Belgian, Dutch and Austrian leagues, winning the team championship in all three, some of them several times. Siebrecht also played in the Luxembourg League, the French Team Championship, the Swiss Team Championship, the Spanish Team Championship and the Greek League.

His singles tournament successes include four NRW Singles Championships between 1994 and 2000. He also won the NRW Cup in 1995. Siebrecht has also won several Open and other tournaments and celebrated a successful tournament comeback after a ten-year tournament break by winning the Arco Open in 2020. His participation in chess tournaments has taken Sebastian Siebrecht to countries such as Uzbekistan, Cuba, Iceland and the United Arab Emirates.

The following game, which Sebastian played at the German Championship 2000, received a brilliancy prize:



The game below also features a spirited attack, even though it is not 100% correct.



Sebastian is also proud of a draw he once achieved against Anand in a rapid chess tournament in Corsica.

Sebastian likes to attack and he likes to play fast, which has been the undoing of some of his opponents. On two occasions, at the German Championships and in the Bundesliga, two players disappeared to the bathroom after almost every move. And they had their mobile phones with them. This might not have been noticed against another opponent but because Siebrecht moves so quickly, the seats of his opponents remained empty for too long which raised (justified) questions.

But Siebrecht was and is also extremely active off the board. As a law student, he earned extra money by appearing as a handsome Father Christmas at Christmas markets, which earned him the nickname "Nikolausi". Soon Siebrecht was also organising the Christmas markets.

Since 2008 Sebastian has been running a chess school in Essen with 500 primary school children as chess students each year. Every year a large children's tournament, the Sparkassenturnier, is held with over 200 children. Since 2012 Sebastian Siebrecht has been touring Germany's shopping centres with his chess action programme "Faszination Chess". Together with his helpers, he teaches chess to primary school children and offers a colourful chess entertainment programme.

Siebrecht also works as a commentator and is frequently invited to give lectures, not only by chess organisations, but also by companies such as Accenture, Hewlett-Packard, ErsteBankGroup, Deutsche Entwicklungsgesellschaft, health insurance companies and even the Playboy publishing house.

Siebrecht has been organising the Open International Bavarian Championships for several years and this year he also organised the brilliant WR Masters in Düsseldorf with its many additional events.

In 1993 Sebastian became a FIDE Master. In 1996 he was awarded the title of International Master and in 2008 the title of Grandmaster. In 2015 he was named Chess Teacher of the Year by the German Chess Federation. In 2016 the NRW Chess Federation awarded him its pin of honour. In 2018 Sebastian received the Lasker Cultural Prize and in 2021 the German Chess Federation awarded him its Chess Prize.

Recently, Sebastian has had to cut back a little on his tournament activities. His large family would also like to see him more often.

Translation from German: Johannes Fischer


André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.