The humanities and social science

2022 Issue №3

Back to the list Download the article

“Royal game” on the “royal mountain”: сhess in Königsberg



The article explores the history of chess in Königsberg in the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century. The author gives the data on competitions held in the capital of East Prussia, as well as biographical data on players and chess composers who lived there and visited Königsberg. The reconstruction of the history of the chess movement includes the localization of chess clubs in the city. The researcher states, that in the 1850s — 1870s chess clubs with general and specialized membership flourished in the city. The Königsberg Academic Chess Club was the example of the latter. From 1878 until the end of the century chess life in East Prussia was under the umbrella of the East German Chess Union, founded to offset the difficulties of participation of local chess players in all-German tournaments because of geographical remoteness. In the 20th century several world-class players both from among the city’s visitors (Emanuel Lask­er) and local residents (Paul Saladin Leonhardt) appeared in Königsberg. Leonhardt became probably the main figure representing East Prussia at national and international tournaments after the First World War. The years of Nazism witnessed persecution of local chess players of Jewish origin in Königsberg. Chess life of the city itself remained provincial. The chess history of Königsberg ceased with the Red Army storming the city in 1945. Among the participants of the storming there were also Soviet chess players. The article is addressed to chess historians, local historians and tour guides.