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Wolfgang Heidenfeld
W Heidenfeld 
Lacking The Master Touch (Heidenfeld, 1970)  
Number of games in database: 240
Years covered: 1929 to 1974

Overall record: +55 -99 =85 (40.8%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games in the database. 1 exhibition game, blitz/rapid, odds game, etc. is excluded from this statistic.

With the White pieces:
 Sicilian (44) 
    B22 B23 B85 B50 B82
 Vienna Opening (17) 
    C29 C28 C25
 French Defense (15) 
    C00 C02 C10 C14 C11
 Caro-Kann (9) 
    B12 B13
 French (8) 
    C00 C10 C11
 Giuoco Piano (6) 
    C50 C53
With the Black pieces:
 French Defense (45) 
    C13 C05 C00 C14 C07
 French (24) 
    C13 C00 C11 C10
 Budapest Gambit (21) 
    A52 A51
 Dutch Defense (16) 
    A90 A97 A84 A85 A87
 French Tarrasch (12) 
    C05 C07
 Classical French (6) 
Repertoire Explorer

NOTABLE GAMES: [what is this?]
   W Heidenfeld vs Zietemann, 1929 1-0
   I Bilek vs W Heidenfeld, 1968 1/2-1/2
   W Heidenfeld vs A Aggos, 1958 1/2-1/2
   W Heidenfeld vs L Barden, 1951 1-0
   W Heidenfeld vs C Lee, 1974 1-0
   R Cardoso vs W Heidenfeld, 1958 1/2-1/2

NOTABLE TOURNAMENTS: [what is this?]
   Johannesburg (1955)
   Paignton (1956)
   Netanya (1961)
   Castlebar (1969)
   Venice (1953)
   Amsterdam IBM (1962)
   Madrid Zonal (1960)
   Siegen Olympiad Final-D (1970)
   Marianske Lazne / Prague Zonal (1951)
   Munich Olympiad Final-C (1958)
   Havana Olympiad Final-C (1966)

Search Sacrifice Explorer for Wolfgang Heidenfeld
Search Google for Wolfgang Heidenfeld

(born May-29-1911, died Aug-03-1981, 70 years old) Germany

[what is this?]

Wolfgang Heidenfeld was born in Berlin-Schöneberg, Germany. He was Irish Champion in 1958, 1963, 1964, 1967, 1968 and 1972. He was South African Champion in 1939, 1945-46 (jointly), 1947 (jointly), 1949, 1951, 1955, 1957 and 1959 (jointly). His son is Mark Heidenfeld. He passed away in the German city of Ulm in 1981.

Wikipedia article: Wolfgang Heidenfeld

 page 1 of 10; games 1-25 of 240  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. W Heidenfeld vs Zietemann 1-0221929BerlinC55 Two Knights Defense
2. R Duehrssen vs W Heidenfeld  0-1291930Berlin ch-Prelim. Group 'A'A52 Budapest Gambit
3. W Schlage vs W Heidenfeld  1-0351930Wilmersdorf CC JubileeA52 Budapest Gambit
4. W Heidenfeld vs G Katz  0-1371930Wilmersdorf CC JubileeB02 Alekhine's Defense
5. Alekhine vs W Heidenfeld ½-½201930Simul, 30bA51 Budapest Gambit
6. M Blieden vs W Heidenfeld  0-1301935South African ChampionshipA52 Budapest Gambit
7. W Heidenfeld vs S Driman 1-0161942JohannesburgC29 Vienna Gambit
8. J M Holford vs W Heidenfeld  0-1191945South Africa-chA52 Budapest Gambit
9. W Heidenfeld vs F Bohatirchuk  1-0561950CAN-RSA corrC57 Two Knights
10. W Heidenfeld vs Benko  ½-½341951Marianske Lazne / Prague ZonalB59 Sicilian, Boleslavsky Variation, 7.Nb3
11. W Heidenfeld vs A Tsvetkov  1-0491951Marianske Lazne / Prague ZonalD85 Grunfeld
12. E Pedersen vs W Heidenfeld  1-0451951Marianske Lazne / Prague ZonalC07 French, Tarrasch
13. W Heidenfeld vs J Lokvenc  0-1431951Marianske Lazne / Prague ZonalB56 Sicilian
14. G Stoltz vs W Heidenfeld  1-0351951Marianske Lazne / Prague ZonalA34 English, Symmetrical
15. S Basjuni vs W Heidenfeld  ½-½641951Marianske Lazne / Prague ZonalA85 Dutch, with c4 & Nc3
16. W Heidenfeld vs J A Fred  0-1551951Marianske Lazne / Prague ZonalA07 King's Indian Attack
17. Barcza vs W Heidenfeld  1-0241951Marianske Lazne / Prague ZonalA04 Reti Opening
18. W Heidenfeld vs A Pytlakowski 1-0351951Marianske Lazne / Prague ZonalC23 Bishop's Opening
19. K Skold vs W Heidenfeld  1-0831951Marianske Lazne / Prague ZonalC14 French, Classical
20. W Heidenfeld vs J Sajtar  0-1311951Marianske Lazne / Prague ZonalD85 Grunfeld
21. I Balanel vs W Heidenfeld  ½-½201951Marianske Lazne / Prague ZonalA52 Budapest Gambit
22. W Heidenfeld vs Foltys  0-1371951Marianske Lazne / Prague ZonalB50 Sicilian
23. Pachman vs W Heidenfeld 1-0211951Marianske Lazne / Prague ZonalC42 Petrov Defense
24. W Heidenfeld vs O Barda 1-0281951Marianske Lazne / Prague ZonalE00 Queen's Pawn Game
25. Szabo vs W Heidenfeld  1-0341951Marianske Lazne / Prague ZonalD50 Queen's Gambit Declined
 page 1 of 10; games 1-25 of 240  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Heidenfeld wins | Heidenfeld loses  

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 2 OF 2 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Jun-08-11  parisattack: <Domdaniel: ...In the 1950s and 60s, being a master - International or Grandmaster - *meant* something.>

Hear, hear!

Jul-02-11  Antiochus: "Not only tolerates chess
two different points of view,in fact without them there would be no chess."

Wolfgang Heidenfeld

May-29-12  brankat: R.I.P. Mr.Heidenfeld.
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: "But also chess allows viewpoints in fact not just chess."

Wolfgang Hideansikh.

May-17-13  JimNorCal: The book "Draw" is excellent. It went lost in my local library--it had been misfiled in the "Art" section. Someone must have thought the book was about drawing and sketching.

He also published a number of excellent articles in the Thinker's Press series "Lasker & His Contemporaries". I've only read issues 1 through 4, quite a lot of interesting content.

May-29-13  backrank: <JimNorCal: The book "Draw" is excellent. It went lost in my local library--it had been misfiled in the "Art" section. Someone must have thought the book was about drawing and sketching.>


Heidenfeld was an excellent author. He regarded the drawn game as the perfect game, if both players played so well that neither could win. In his book, he admitted only such perfect draws, where there was no win for either side.

May-29-13  Howard: Yes, his book Draw ! was quite good. Unfortunately, when he died in 1981 it was not quite done, and it was John Nunn who finished the transcript and got it published.

One of the more interesting comments in the book is when he annotates a draw involving Frederick Yates, saying "Few players below the world's top elite have been as feared as Frederick Yates." The author goes on to say that Yates had a notorious reputation for pulling off upsets---quite true !

May-29-13  JimNorCal: I did not remember about John Nunn. Still, wasn't the book originally published in German? Did Nunn help on that one...or did the Nunn version include more games perhaps? From wikipedia "He wrote several chess books including [snip] Grosse Remispartien (in German; an English edition entitled Draw!, edited by John Nunn, was published in 1982)..."
Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: As I recall, Nunn's part was contributing a foreword and sprucing up the analysis. Heidenfeld's conception was to include only games where neither player missed a clear win, and he believed he had done so. Nunn showed a few cases where he was wrong; however, I don't recall offhand if Nunn omitted or added any games as a result.
Premium Chessgames Member
  GrahamClayton: Here is the ending of the game Galgut-Heidenfeld, Johannesburg, 1937

click for larger view

Heidenfeld played ...♕g3!!. In his 1977 "Encyclopedia of Chess", Harry Golombek called this "the nearest to a true middlegame zugzwang".

Galgut loses immediately after any of the ten moves that are possible for him, eg

1. ♕c1 d2;
1. ♕e1 ♖xf4;
1. ♕b2 ♖xf4;
1. ♖f1 ♖xc3;
1. ♗b2 ♖c2 ♕e1 d2;
1. ♗a1 ♖c2 ♕e1 d2;
1. ♔h1 ♕xh3 ♔g1 ♕g3 with ...h3 to follow;
1. ♔f1 ♕h2;
1. f5 exf5 ♖xf5 ♖xc3 ♖g5 ♖c2, and
1. b5 b6

Oct-12-14  jerseybob: DomDaniel: Yes, titles "meant" something back in the day and too many may possibly be awarded now, but wasn't it skewed too far in the other direction back then? For example, Penrose should've easily been a GM during the 60's but just couldn't get enough FIDE-sanctioned rated games under his belt - because many of his opponents were similarly underrated!
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <jerseybob> That may well be the case nowadays; one requirement which was in force in the 1970s (long since abolished) was that one's norms had to be achieved within three years of one another to earn the title--this at a time when GM norms in particular were much more difficult to come by than today.

You mentioned Jonathan Penrose; another strong master who clearly got hosed was Frank Ross Anderson.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Jonathan Sarfati: Surely this is a notable game W Heidenfeld vs Euwe, 1955
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Jonathan> It is most unfortunate that W Heidenfeld vs Hecht, 1974 cannot be a notable game.

Some months ago, I discovered Heidenfeld's win over Dr Euwe and submitted it. Glad to see it has been noticed.

May-29-16  TheFocus: This guy wrote a great book, but my mind's drawing a blank.

Happy birthday, Wolfgang Heidenfeld.

Jul-06-17  ughaibu: A quick question, with an ulterior motive, which players have or had a reputation, deserved or not, for being "drawing masters"?

Those that immediately come to mind are Schlechter, Flohr, Trifunovic, Petrosian, Andersson, Leko and Kramnik. But was Schlechter the first? And surely there must have been others between Schlechter and Flohr, and Flohr and Trifunovic(?)

Jul-08-17  Hans Renette: I would not place Kramnik in that list! Some Austrian players had the reputation of being "drawing masters" before Schlechter: Max Weiss, Berthold Englisch and Johann Berger.
Jul-11-17  ughaibu: Thanks. Any ideas for the Schlechter - Flohr gap?
Nov-18-17  zanzibar: <CG> should grab the wiki media photo of him.

Tartajubow probably has the most detailed bio of him, with a little more detail than his wiki page:


Mar-15-18  Jean Defuse: ...

Wolfgang Heidenfeld 1911-1981

by Mark Orr

The following biographical sketch is based partly on the book Lacking the Master Touch and partly on the recollections of people who knew Wolfgang.

Brief History

Wolfgand was born in Berlin in 1911. Later he studied law and played chess there but, being a Jew, he was forced to emigrate and in the mid-1930's moved to South Africa. He stayed there for over twenty years, winning the South African championships many times and representing them in their debut Olympiad in 1958. He made his living in a variety of ways including designing crossword puzzles, writing short stories, journalism and door-to-door sales. During the war he helped decode German messages for the Allies. For recreation he played poker (at one stage owning a poker club) and dealt in stamps (was involved in various philatelic clubs) as well as playing chess.

He was always against apartheid: as a German Jew he was well aware of what it was liked to be persecuted. After visiting Ireland for a chess tournament in 1956 and with assistance from Enda Rohan, he moved to Dublin in 1957.

Later he spent a few years in Frankfurt, Germany, but settled back in Dublin in 1963 with his new German wife (23 years his junior). From 1966 he represented Ireland at Olympiads. Later his son Mark, born in Ireland in 1968, also played for Ireland although he learned chess from his mother! In 1979 the family moved back to Ulm, Germany, where Wolfgang died two years later.

Chess Career

Wolfgang won the South African championship eight times and the Irish championship six times. Indeed, in 1959 he was both Irish and South African champion while domiciled in Germany! In 1955 he clinched first place in the last round of a South African tournament by beating former world champion Max Euwe. He had other wins against top players, including Najdorf and Durao, and numerous draws, including Pachman. Although he never became an International Master, according to his wife he did eventually attain the required qualifications but declined to accept the award from FIDE!

He was the author of several chess books including Chess Springbok, My Book of Fun and Games, Grosse Remispartien (in German) and Lacking the Master Touch (1970).


Many people's abiding memory of Wolfgang was his arrogance. He apparently had little hesitation in letting lesser players know exactly what he thought of their play. According to his son Mark, he didn't suffer fools gladly, especially if they were also road users! There are also tales of him being involved in various unpleasant scenes, for example, when he was left out of the Irish Olympiad team in 1972 even though he was that year's champion, or when Ken O'Reardon and Oisin O'Siochru compiled an Elo rating list for the first time and Wolfgand wasn't at the top.

However, in his defence, the words cultured and principled have also been used to describe him. Mark speculates that Wolfgang's cultural predilections as a German (precise) and a Jew (opinionated) may have been largely responsible for the perception of arrogance from the very different cultural perspective of the Irish. In any case, he dominated Irish chess for nearly a decade and exemplified a serious attitude to chess that involved both hard work and study and which no doubt rubbed off beneficially on some of his contemporaries.



Dec-06-18  Gejewe: <Jean Defuse> Thanks for drawing our attention to this interesting information. I have been a fan of Heidenfeld's book "Lacking the master touch" for most of my "chesslife" (after purchasing it) and was fortunate to meet the master in the summer of 1981 at the Biel chess festival. Where Wolfgang Heidenfeld was playing the senior tournament and I competed in the open Masters.

It seems that he was an avid reader of "Myers openings bulletin" as during that tournament he adressed himself to me (an unknown chessplaying student) with some additional analysis on an idea I had suggested shortly before in that particular magazine (it was about 1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.b3!?). Interesting stuff and as a result we had several discussions during that event, mainly on chess openings. He lost a heartbreaking Budapest Gambit game in that senior-tournament and I remember we tried to find improvements in his play. He was not happy at all about his own play during that particular tournament which clearly reflected in his mood.

Regarding his character, I remember that he had some strong opinions and communicated very directly. But we Dutch are used to that ;-) And he was also very willing to listen to reasonable arguments! It was quite a shock to read in the next issue of British Chess Magazine that Wolfgang Heidenfeld had died, which must have been very shortly after his return home from Biel.

Dec-06-18  JimNorCal: "which players have or had a reputation, deserved or not, for being "drawing masters"?"

My understanding is that Giri can be added to the list. I'll leave it to the other readers whether or not to recommend Caruana and Carlsen

May-05-20  wordfunph: "Chess is a difficult game. If it were less difficult it would not be so much fun."

- Wolfgang Heidenfeld (In his 1970 book Lacking the Master Touch)

Source: NICM 2019 #8

Premium Chessgames Member
  Dionysius1: Thanks <Jean Defuse>. I had read somewhere else that Heidenfeld declined to receive the IM award from FIDE despite having fulfilled its requirements.

Does anyone know if there was a special reason for declining it, or if it was "just" another example of his arrogance (or opinionated precision)?

Bw Dion

Premium Chessgames Member
  Richard Taylor: He also wrote 'Modern Chess Miniatures' with Leonard Barden, I see it was "Presented to R. Taylor -- 2nd Prize, Auckland Schools Metropolitan Chess Championships. 1962" ! I'd forgotten. Earlier I won a book about checkmates. But I recall in 1962 I missed out on the NZ Schools Champs. In any case there are some fascinating games. The book was published in 1960, Routledge and Kegan.
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