The International Tournament in Bamberg starts!

by André Schulz
6/22/2020 – On the occasion of its 100th anniversary, the SC Bamberg, founded in 1868, has organized a large international chess tournament. The best German players meet top players from all over the world, among them Paul Keres and World Champion Tigran Petrosian. Transmission of the games start at 18.00 local time (14:00 UTC, 10:00 EDT).

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Jubilee tournament in Bamberg

Germany has another big chess tournament. It is organized by the SC Bamberg, on the occasion of its 100th birthday. The Chess Club Bamberg is one of the oldest chess clubs in Germany: it was founded in 1868, and as people here in Bamberg are very precise, the exact date is still known. It was February 12, 1868, a Wednesday, when 12 chess friends met in the inn "Wilde Rose" and founded the first chess club in the city of Bamberg.

Josef Lippmann, a merchant, was elected chairman. The admission fee to the club were 30 kreuzers, which was not very much, the monthly fee was six kreuzers. The founding members also decided that the club should automatically dissolve itself should the number of members ever fall below four. Since there was not enough money for boards and pieces the newly founded club issued share certificates.

Deed of foundation | Photo: Schachclub 1868 Bamberg

In 1868 the German Empire did not yet exist, but the German states had established a tariff union of the German states, which was econonically powerful and ranked third in the world behind England and the USA.

In 1871 the German Empire was founded, under Prussian leadership. Ludwig II, the King of Bavaria, however, had been in favour of a "Greater German solution" and in the Austro-Prussian war he supported Austria, the losing side. Ludwig II was also against plans of a united German Empire without Austria but under Prussian leadership.

However, the so-called "fairy-tale king" was practically bankrupt because he had spent enormous sums for representative buildings in his Bavarian Empire and with six million Goldmarks Prussia was able to persuade the Bavarian king to join the new German Empire.

Ludwig II used the money to pay off his debts and to build the Neuschwanstein Castle which among other things served as a model for the castle in Walt Disney's film Cinderella.


Bamberg, the venue of the international tournament in 1968, is in Upper Franconia, but in 1802 the town lost its independence and in 1803 it became part of Bavaria.

Old map of Bamberg

But back to the present which is also marked by changes and turmoil. In many countries young people take to the streets to protest. They protest against the involvement of the USA in the war in Indochina, but they also protest against encrusted social structures. A new youth culture has formed, which also finds its expression in new forms of music and film. A scene from the groundbreaking and critically acclaimed film "Blow Up" by the Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni, which was released two years ago, may reflect the disorientation of our time.

But our time has also brought forth more friendly songs, and it is pleasant to imagine that in 50 years time people will still enjoy to listen to them.

That chess is extremely modern or "in", as they say nowadays, is proved by the following  scene from the film "2001: A Space Odyssey" by director Stanley Kubrick.

The following game inspired this scene:


14.Qxa6 Bxg2 15.Re1 Qf3 0–1

But chess can also be very sexy as Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway show in the recently released The Thomas Crown Affair:

Good reasons to play chess! In the Bamberg Bootshaus am Hain, the idyllic playing venue, 16 players will compete in the tournament, including the top German players GM Lothar Schmid, GM Wolfgang Unzicker and GM Helmut Pfleger. The other participants from Germany are Rudolf Teschner from Berlin, a strong player and since 1950 editor of Germany's most important chess magazine, the Deutsche Schachzeitung, German champion Hans-Günther Kestler, Bavarian champion Jürgen Teufel – both from Bamberg – and Klaus Peter Klundt from Munich.

From Austria comes Dr. Andreas Dückstein, from Spain Roman Toran, from Finland Heikki Westerinen, from the Netherlands Jan Hein Donner. From the Eastern Bloc countries come GM Milo Bobozow (Bulgaria), Borislav Ivkov (Yugoslavia) and Lazlo Szabo (Hungary). And then there are the two Soviet stars Paul Keres and World Champion Tigran Petrosian. A fantastic field!

To assemble this field and to finance the tournament, which cost about 100.000 German marks, was not easy. But the excellent contacts of Lothar Schmid helped a lot. Schmid, who is an editor by profession and an avid collector of chess books and all things related to chess, is also one of the world's best chess players and he maintains excellent relations with players and officials in all countries. For example, after the Chess Olympiad in Leipzig 1960 Schmid managed to convince the young Bobby Fischer to come to Bamberg for a visit. Schmid's good contacts also brought Petrosian and Keres to Bamberg.

We can look forward to an exciting tournament! Round 1 will start today, at 18.00 local time  (14:00 UTC, 10:00 EDT).

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


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