Bad Ems – Currently, the city in Central Germany is hosting the 11th Kaiser Open. Until Saturday, ‘brain athletes’ will fight mercilessly on the chessboards to prevail over their opponents.
Besides the dripping of water in the little kettle-like fountain, there is absolutely no sound in the hall of the Häcker Grand Hotel, although the players sit tightly next to each other. They are not here for fun or enjoyment – they are all here to play serious chess. This year’s edition of the Kaiser Open has lured many passionate players into the city by the river Lahn. Until Saturday, they will gather around chessboards, eager to checkmate their counterparts.
The pairings are set by a chess computer that is overseen by tournament director Karl-Otto Jung. There are two evaluation systems that determine the rankings of all attendants. Basically, anybody can participate in the event. In two evaluations, the players compete against each other, and whoever manages to collect the most points makes it to the final stage.
“Bad Ems is a particularly beautiful place to play chess”, admits Jung. He has all neatly arranged tables in good sight. Every once in a while, a player gets up and strolls around the hall to clear his mind whilst the opponent is up for the next move. Others tear their hair or bite their lips in desperate concentration, or stare holes in the air. For every move to be successful, full concentration is indispensable.
“The game keeps people well-trained until old age”, explains Jung, who organizes chess tournaments in Bad Wildbad and Homburg / Saar. The male players are undoubtedly in superior number – and amongst them the older age group. Dennis Papesch stands out of the crowd of the 40 participants – at only 23 years. “Logical-mathematical thinking comes easy for me”, states the young man. It is essential when playing chess. He travelled all the way from Kiel to participate. “Many players travel far distances and combined their passion with their vacations”, tells us the tournament director. Therefore, we only play before noon – and by 3 in the afternoon they are done for enjoyment. Mayor Berny Abt is pleased by the chess tourism and greeted the visitors with warm words: “Frankly, they have brought sunshine along to Bad Ems”
Picture: Alexander Hoffmann
written by Philipp, translated by Birthe