The successful Hamburg School of Chess

by André Schulz
8/26/2020 – The young German grandmasters are making headlines with their successes. Some players come from the successful “Hamburg Grandmaster’s Forge”, but it is not only young players who have obtained the grandmaster title there. | Photo: Frank Hoppe

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Tradition and vitality

If you measure the success of a chess club by the grandmasters it produces, then the Hamburger Schachklub is certainly one of the most successful chess clubs in Germany, not only because of its long history, but also due to its current accomplishments. Several grandmasters from Hamburg are currently making a name for themselves with their achievements.

Founded in 1830, the Hamburger Schachklub is one of the oldest still existing chess clubs in Germany. Only the Berlin Chess Club, founded in 1827, which was merged with the Eckbauer club, is even older. Also, among the sports clubs from Hamburg, the HSK is one of the most traditional clubs. In this case, only the Hamburger Turnerschaft, founded in 1816, is even older.

However, “old” does not necessarily mean knotty or ossified — on the contrary. The Hamburger SK is an incredibly young and vital chess club. With 715 members (as of 2018), the Hamburger SK is by far the largest chess club in Germany. For decades the promotion of young talents has been a top priority at Hamburger SK. A large part of the members are children and youngsters. The club has its own place in Hamburg-Eilbeck, where the Schachschule Hamburg offers numerous chess courses.

Such conditions explain the success of the HSK players, many of whom obtained the grandmaster title. 

Forging grandmasters

Some of the players from the Hamburger SK who recently became grandmasters are Niclas Huschenbeth (2012, now playing for Bayern Munich), Rasmus Svane (2016), Thies Heinemann (2018), Luis Engel (2020) and Jonas Lampert (2020).

Jonathan Carlstedt (now coach at Werder Bremen) has three GM norms, but he still has not reached the necessary 2500 rating points to get the title.

Somewhat further behind lie the grandmaster titles obtained by Matthias Wahls, Jan Gustafsson and Karsten Mueller. The careers of the players that obtained the grandmaster title are quite different though.

Rasmus Svane, who came from the Lübecker SV, was promoted in the junior group of the DSB due to his great talent and has systematically put all his efforts on following a chess career. Most recently, he was the best player of the German team at the Online Olympiad, facing very strong opponents — Rasmus Svane faced, among others, Parham Maghsoodloo (1-0), Baadur Jobava (1-0), Le Quam Liem (1/2), Ding Liren (1/2), Vidit Gujrathi (0-1) and Nodirbek Abdusattorov (0-1). Here is an example of his strong play.

Jobava,Baadur (2603) - Svane,Rasmus (2613) [E46]
Online Olym Top DivA 2020 INT (4.1), 22.08.2020

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e3 0–0 5.Nge2 Re8 6.a3 Bf8 7.e4 d5 8.e5 Nfd7 9.b4 a5 10.b5 c5 11.bxc6 bxc6 12.cxd5 cxd5 13.Ng3 Nc6 14.Bb5 Qb6 15.Nge2 Ba6 16.Rb1 Bxb5 17.Rxb5 Qa6 18.0–0 Rab8 19.a4 Bb4 20.Qd3 Nb6 21.Qg3 Nxa4 22.Rxb4 Nxc3 23.Nxc3 axb4 24.Bh6 g6 25.Qf4 bxc3 26.Qf6


How can Black defend himself against the threat of mate?

26... Qxf1+ 27.Kxf1 Rb1+ 28.Ke2 Nxd4+ 29.Kd3 Rd1+ 30.Ke3 Nf5+ 31.Ke2 c2 32.Bd2 Rc8 0–1

Jonas Lampert in Maribor | Photo: Official website

His friend Jonas Lampert, on the other hand, focused on his professional training, studying Law in university.

Jonas Lampert has played very few chess tournaments, but continued to compete when his studies allowed. For some time he remained untitled, despite having a respectable Elo rating. In the meantime, he kept collecting GM norms, the third of which was recently achieved at the Pirc Memorial in Maribor. Lampert is now a grandmaster.

Final standings -  Pirc Memorial

Rk. Name  TB1 
1 Lampert Jonas 7,0
2 Kozul Zdenko 6,5
3 Markoja Boris 6,0
4 Subelj Jan 5,0
5 Mikhalchishin Adrian 5,0
6 Morgunov Marc 4,5
7 Schwabeneder Florian 4,5
8 Marn Jan 3,5
9 Mohr Georg 2,0
10 Bratkovic Sham 1,0

Lampert,Jonas (2531) - Mikhalchishin,Adrian (2458) [D20]
23rd Pirc Memorial GM 2020 Maribor (1.2), 11.08.2020

1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.e4 c5 4.d5 e6 5.Bxc4 Nf6 6.Nc3 exd5 7.Bxd5 Nxd5 8.Nxd5 Bd6 9.Ne2 0–0 10.f4 Nc6 11.0–0 Re8 12.Nec3 Be6 13.Be3 b6 14.Qd3 Bf8 15.Rad1 Nb4 16.Qe2 Qc8 17.Nf6+ gxf6 18.f5 Bg7 19.Qg4 Kf8 20.Rf3 Bxa2 21.Rh3 Ke7 22.Qxg7 Rg8 23.Qh6 Bb3 24.e5 Qc6 25.exf6+ Ke8 26.Rd2 Rd8 27.Qxh7 Rf8 28.Qg7 Rxd2



Thies Heinemann

Thies Heinmann became a grandmaster in 2018.

The mathematician plays practically no chess tournaments, but has been active for decades in the Bundesliga representing HSK. Heinemann collected the three necessary GM norms playing in team events as an amateur and received the GM title at 49. A reminder that you should never give up!


After 36...Qxe1, Rustam Kasimdzhanov, one of the strongest analysts in the world, resigned.

Luis Engel

The youngest in the team of grandmasters is Luis Engel, the second youngest German GM ever behind Vincent Keymer.

Luis Engel is currently the top performer of the HSK team at the German Chess Online Championship and also played in Magdeburg at the German Individual Championship. Luis Engel won the title with 7½ points, finishing whole point ahead of runner-up Alexander Graf. The new German Champion obtained the title despite losing against Ashot Parvanyan — Engel won seven games and drew Julius Muckle.

Against Falko Bindrich, Engel needed a bit of Caissa’s assistance to make it through.

Bindrich,Falko (2605) - Engel,Luis (2532) [D43]
91st GER-ch 2020 Magdeburg (8.2), 21.08.2020

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 c6 5.g3 Nbd7 6.Bg2 dxc4 7.a4 Bb4 8.0–0 0–0 9.Qc2 Qe7 10.Bf4 b6 11.e4 Bb7 12.Rad1 c5 13.e5 Nd5 14.Ng5 g6 15.Nxd5 exd5 16.dxc5 h6 17.Nf3 g5 18.Bc1 Nxc5 19.h4 Ne4 20.hxg5 hxg5 21.Nxg5 [The combination has a hole.]


21...Nxg5 22.Qf5 Nh7! [Worse is 22...Ne6 23.Bh6 Ng7 24.Bxg7 (24.Qg4 f5–+) 24...Kxg7 25.Qg4+ Kh6 26.Rd4 with an attack: 26...Bc8 27.Qe2 Bf5 28.Rh4+ Kg7 29.Qh5 Qe6 30.Bh3 Rh8 31.Qxf5 Qxf5 32.Bxf5 Rxh4 33.gxh4]

23.Bh6 Qe6! [The attack has been stopped.]



24... Rfd8? [An inaccuracy that could have cost Engel the game. Black needed to prepare for Bg5-f6. Correct was 24...Rfe8 25.Rd4 Kh8 26.Bg5 Be7 27.Bxe7 Rxe7–+]

25.Rd4 Kh8 26.Rf4

[26.Bg5 would have won. The main threat is Bf6. 26...Be7 (26...Kg7 27.Rg4 Nxg5 28.Rxg5+ Kf8 29.Bh3 Qc6 30.e6 fxe6 31.Qh7 and mate in a few moves.) 27.Bxe7 Qxe7 28.Rh4 f5 29.exf6 Qd7 30.f7+–]

26...Qg6 27.Qh4 Bd2 28.Rf6 Nxf6 29.Bxd2+ Nh7 30.Bc3 Rg8 31.Bd4 Qg5 32.e6+ f6 33.Qh3 Rg6 34.e7 Qg4 35.Bxf6+ Kg8 36.Bh4 Qxh3 37.Bxh3 Ng5 0–1

Luis Engel has recently finished high school and will begin studies at the Bucerius Law School in Hamburg. Before that, however, he will defend his title as reigning U18 champion in October.

Thies Heinemann rounded off the Hamburg success at the German Individual Championships by finishing in seventh place.

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Engel Luis 7,5 2456
2 Graf Alexander 6,5 2394
3 Hess Max 6,0 2429
4 Muckle Julius 6,0 2427
5 Parvanyan Ashot 6,0 2396
6 Mons Leon 5,5 2369
7 Heinemann Thies 5,5 2360
8 Stern René 5,5 2358
9 Siebrecht Sebastian 5,0 2386
10 Dubiel Jacek 5,0 2378

...34 players

Translation from German: Carlos Colodro


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


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