Wolfgang Uhlmann does not know exactly how many games he played. He estimates 15,000. There are no exaggerations in his words, “Chess is my life”. They apply all the more to the native of Dresden. When he was six he moved the first characters – when his father played with his uncle in his own bakery. After the war he fell ill with tuberculosis: the one and a half year stay in the sanatorium became a chess course. “That was the start,” recalls Uhlmann. Then he flew “like a rocket” to success. He celebrated great victories, including five against various world champions. His best place in the world rankings was eighth.
This Sunday there is something to celebrate again – Wolfgang Uhlmann, who is still active at the UPS TU Dresden, is 85 years old. The birthday round will not be that big because of the corona crisis. But the family has always been the most important thing for him. When the World Association awarded him the title of Grand Master in 1959, completely new perspectives opened up for him. He was allowed to travel, also to other countries abroad – because the organizers paid for the grandmaster. That was an important argument for the GDR sports tour. “Quiet offers to stay in western countries” were never interesting for Uhlmann. He did not want to lose his family, wife, two children and the Freundeskreis in Dresden.
Wolfgang Uhlmann never denied that he enjoyed privileges. He never worked in the learned profession of book printer. He was a chess professional. And full-time trainer – “with a salary that corresponded to that of an engineer.” But there was also a big break in his career. After the “hideous decision” to only promote Olympic sports in the GDR, he was also forbidden from 1974 to participate in world championships and chess Olympiads. Uhlmann was nevertheless allowed to play some international tournaments. Because he was one of the best in the world. And a star on the scene: his publications on French defense still belong to the standard literature today.