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Editor's note: On the occasion of the coming edition of our club magazine KNS, this obituary is an extended and revised version of the obituary that was originally published on this site in July 2019.

With woe and grief we had to take note of the passing of our long-standing member Peter Staller (*June 3rd 1942 †July 18th 2019).

Already in the 1960s, the young talent was active for König Nied. Before he played for SC Höchst and had become Hessian Youth Champion and runner-up at the German Youth Championship. Yet shortly after the founding of SC 1961 König Nied he joined the new club, won the club's Blitz and Cup Championships and brought in precious points at the top board of our first team.

Peter Staller 1964Left: Peter Staller at the top board for König Nied in 1964

As a bush-league club (back then A-Klasse Obermain), we were in no position to hold on to the aspiring talent in the long run. He was drawn to the top clubs of the region, initially Grün-Weiß Frankfurt and Königsspringer Frankfurt. In 1968, he became Hessian Champion, and after having won this candidates' tournament, he even finished runner-up at the German Championship in 1969. This earned him the title of a National Master of the German Chess Federation. Along the way, he twice won the German University Team Championship with Frankfurt's Goethe University.

In the mid-1970s, he returned to König Nied, twice won the Club Championship and reinforced the first team, which had just been promoted to the Oberliga, for two years at the top board.

Peter Staller against Mikhail Tal 1975Peter Staller against former World Champion Mikhail Tal, at a Blitz tournament at Haus Nied in 1975

Following this, he was again drawn to foreign parts. He won the German Team Championship with Königsspringer Frankfurt in 1978 – a success that he was able to repeat in 1982 with SG Porz. In 1983, he was awarded the title FIDE Master. On his continuing wanderings, he again played for Königsspringer Frankfurt, where lacking harmony with sponsor Hechinger led to eventual break-up, later for SV Hofheim, Brett vorm Kopp and SV Oberursel, always in Germany's top three leagues. 

In 1989 he was able to win the Gold Cup tournament in Meran. He achieved further formidable results (DWZ perfomance above 2400) in various other open tournaments, such as a the International Open of Bad Wörishofen in 1992 and 1994, at Bad Ragaz in 1995 or at Schwarzach in 2001. His peak ELO rating was 2390 in July 1984 – just short of the IM title.

Peter Staller 2012Peter Staller in 2012 at board 2 for König Nied

Peter was married to Elisabeth Reiß. The marriage ended just a few years later and remained childless. Occupationally, Peter worked as a probationary teacher, programmer, chess coach and editor for the Rochade. He also earned additional income as a chess player – chess was plainly his life.

Towards the end of this career, he was drawn back to his domain from old, König Nied, to which he had stayed connected during his entire career. From 2009 to 2019 he again reinforced the first team, which he led from the Verbandliga via the Hessenliga back to the Oberliga and with which he won the Hessian Team Cup in 2011. In the Swiss town of Adelboden, he evolved into a serial winner, winning the Swiss seniors' tournament five times.

Peter Staller 20172017 - Happy 75th Birthday

Lately, the waning of his powers was plain to see. He passed away on July 18th 2019 after serious illness at St. Barbara hospice in Oberursel; his funeral took play place on August 22nd at the Hauptfriedhof in Frankfurt. Particular thanks and recognition appertain to Manuela Wich, who considerately took care of Peter during his last months. Left is now just the memory of a humble, quiet and friendly man, who, for all his successes, had never lost touch with reality. We will miss him! Rest in peace.

Peter Staller 2019April 2019: Peter says "Goodbye".

To demonstrate Peter's accomplished endgame technique, we would like to present an example from his tournament play, which could also double as a study (White to move and win). The following game was played on December 13th 2015 against FM Horst Alber, during an Oberliga match against SK Marburg.

The position suspiciously looks like a draw (opposite-coloured bishops, interlocked pawns), but Peter found the breakthrough to win the game: 54. b4!!  After 54... Bxb4 there follows 55. Kxb6 and the a-pawn will either promote or win the bishop. And after 54... cxb4 the answer 55. Lb3 locks in the black bishop, after which White is practically a piece up and wins by means of zugzwang. Black could confidently resign.