On June 26th 2020, for the first time since the outbreak of the Corona pandemic, an "analogous" club night was held in the Saalbau Nied again.

In the run-up to this, the board gave some thought about how a club night could be made interesting under the current restrictions related to the Corona pandemic. As tournament play as well as practise games are not possible without violating the required distance of one and a half meters, the board came up with alternatives.

Saalbau, referring to administrative regulations, the recommendations of Robert Koch Institute and general hygienic recommendations, does allow usage of their rooms only under strict conditions. Thus, wearing a mask on Saalbau premises is mandatory with the sole exception that the mask may be taken off inside the booked room as long as the required distance of 1.50 meters is kept. When entering the booked room, guests must sanitize their hands. In addition, every guest must provide their contact details in order to enable the authorities to trace contacts in case of an infection. For our usual room 5, the above implies that a maximum of 10 persons can attend a club night. Based on those constraints, the club has coordinated with Saalbau to draw up a hygiene policy and attempted to raise the interest of our members with two events before Saalbau will close their premises for the regular summer break.

On June 26th 2020, Oliver Uwira led the way and presented two historic games from the turn of the previous century to the interested audience. Oliver selected two games between the then world champion Emanuel Lasker and the American Harry Nelson Pillsbury, one of his strongest opponents who for some time was at the top of the retrospective ELO ranking list. The first game was played in 1896 at the four masters tournament of Saint Petersburg and was won by Lasker in a spectacular manner. Oliver turned out to be well prepared and introduced the audience into the profound thoughts of the masters, their strategic plans and their tactical finesse, all of which the presented game had in abundance. Where it was expedient, Oliver made excursions into subvariations and changes introduced by modern practise, especially during the opening phase of the game (which was a Tarrasch Defense of the Queen's Gambit declined). Any interposed question was answered compentently as usual. Oliver put emphasis on demonstrating the power of active play, which has the potential to offset the loss of a pawn or even an exchange without further ado. The selected game was a vivid example of this principle. The game is, not without a good reason, considered to be one of Lasker's best, with Lasker himself even citing it as his best game ever.

In the second game, played in 1904 at Cambridge Springs, Pillsbury played a novelty, deviating from the course of the first game, which he reportedly saved for a chance to play it against Lasker. Indeed he was able to decide the game in his favour. Even though, two years before his early death, he was already past the peak of his powers, he played a worthy game against the still reigning world champion.

Oliver also did not miss out on providing anecdotes and interesting facts about the adversaries. The bottom line was that Oliver made the event interesting and entertaining and created a desire for more.

Next Friday, July 3rd, Daniel Prenzler will take over the stage and organize a solving tournament, featuring twomovers, moremovers and studies of various degrees of difficulty. After that event, Saalbau will close for three weeks due to their regular summer break. What will be possible from July 31st with regard to chess activities remains to be seen.

Oliver Uwira at the demonstration boardOliver Uwira at the demonstration board

The audienceThe audience is following the presentation exictedly while duly keeping the distance.