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Portrait Wolfgang Uhlmann

Wolfgang Uhlmann
Born on the 29th March 1935 in Dresden
Grand Master  - participated in 11 Olympia events

“I play chess, because it demands perfect creativity, delight in playing and logic.”

“My own stupidity pains me the most. When I am going for a victory and then lose – that’s hard and I am depressed, food doesn’t taste nice anymore and I sleep badly,” says Wolfgang Uhlmann. The victory of a better opponent however “wins my respect and my recognition. Above all, the joy to have played a good game is important to me.”

Uhlmann has had numerous such matches, he has won more than 30 international tournaments, amongst others three times in Hastings, in Vienna, Sarajevo, Havana, Zagreb, Berlin and Halle. Uhlmann has held the Grand Master title since 1959 – he has beaten titans such as Viswanathan Anand (1990), Bobby Fischer (1960), Wassilij Smyslow (1973) or Michael Botwinnik (1962); “these are magical moments in the life of a Grand Master when one wins against these exceptional experts, and then if it’s against one’s own role model like Botwinnik…”

After the end of the war, 10 year old Wolfgang’s father took him to the Dresden chess club. “At 14 years of age, I won the Dresden Youth Championship, my first little big success and this stimulated me to continue training hard.” Uhlmann had two textbooks by Alexander Aljechin, “I tried to learn openings and to take over strategies.” Additionally, the Grand Master Lothar Schmid helped him to improve his game. What drove Uhlmann? “Above all, my love of chess, and I was lucky to be successful relatively early, this then giving me the chance to travel abroad and to meet first class opponents.”

In his youth, Uhlmann studied the games of Alexander Aljechin and Michael Botwinnik and took to the “aggressive, risky French defence.” For decades, Uhlmann has ranked worldwide among the outstanding experts in this opening and he published a definitive book, ‘Ein Leben lang Französisch’.
In 1981, Anatoli Karpow asked, within the framework of his world championship preparation, “for a little memory training on French variants.” Karpow’s world championship opponent Viktor Kortschnoi heard about this and then avoided the Uhlmann speciality during the title match…

Even at 73 years of age, the chess fire still blazes in Uhlmann – he plays in the national league for the USV TU Dresden, teaches top young talent and is competing in the Senior World Championships this year, “a wonderful experience to be sitting at a board with all the players one had met 50 years ago all over the world.”