Hans Poschmann 1932 - 2006

Eulogy for Opa

by Hans' Family

I first met Hans Poschmann when I joined the Success Chess program as an instructor. At the time I was new to the school, and Hans welcomed me with open arms. To this day I cannot ever recall seeing him in a bad mood, and was always unfailingly polite and kind to everyone he met. I recall speaking to him during the off times when we weren't wrangling up screaming children or banging away on clocks, and he always had an amazing story to tell about his life or a funny joke to share. He would often regale me with anecdotes about growing up in Germany and give me small chess tips here and there. What I remember most about Hans was that he always ready to give you a smile and a pat on the back. I was always, always happy to see him. Few people in this world share their love of life with the open compassion and warmth that Hans did, and for that I am thankful to be able to have called him a friend and a colleague, even if only for a short while. Goodbye, Hans. You will be missed.

Jeremy Tse

I first met Hans in 1978 when he was the director of the Fremont Chess Club. Jovial, pleasant and outgoing by nature, it was so easy to strike up a friendship that was to last until his passing. Over the years and at so many tournaments he would always welcome me with that wonderful smile that was his. We would chat, compare chess notes, I would often tease him about his still playing the "monkey" opening, aka the Orangutan (1. b4), at which I will always consider him an expert. We would wish each other good luck and follow each others games and results during the tournament at hand.

A simple friendship but an endearing one. God Bless You my friend, ...you are missed.

Michael Don Jones

I learned to play chess in 1963 or '64 from the instructions contained in a little plastic chess set someone had given us kids. I soon discovered that one of my high-school friends played and, wonder of wonders, that he and his Dad went to an actual chess club once a week. One evening they took me along to the Newark Chess Club run by a friendly, bluff fellow with greying hair and a German accent. I may have been a 14-year-old with a shaky grasp of the intricacies of castling but I had made acquaintance with Hans Poschmann.

The club folded for some reason and Hans established another one (or maybe two or three) before the Fremont Chess Club settled down in the rec building by Lake Elizabeth. Encouraged by Hans (perhaps he sensed that I had no future as a chess player) I, as a skinny, pimply-faced teenager, became the editor of a short-lived attempt at a club newsletter--done on a typewriter, with diagrams put together with scissors and paste. My first taste of writing and editing was not altogether successful (I remember Richard Shoreman gravely informing me that I had misspelled the last name of the great Bobby) but always enthusiastically received by Hans.

Besides encouraging my literary efforts, Hans was a one-man organizing dynamo: blitz tournaments, lightening (10 seconds per move by the buzzer) tournaments, club championships, the club ladder, the Perpetual Trophy, whatever he could think of. And he played in all of them. At that period there was no greater certainty in life than facing 1.b4 if you had black against Hans (as my friend Chris Mavraedis has said, "b4 and 'that laugh' "). And after every game, Hans would analyze with you, treating your ideas with respect no matter how silly they may have been. He was this way with everyone: enthusiastic, untiring, encouraging, funny. He treated kids and teenagers as equals who could possibly do wonderful things if they just tried (which, being a teenager myself, I found a rather refreshing change).

After high-school I lost track of Hans as life led us down different roads. I would hear that one club had folded and another one started as Hans organized wherever he could find space and chess players, but our paths would only occasionally cross at Bob Pellerin's, or at the Mechanics Chess Club, or at some tournament or other. And when we met, he was always enthusiastic, always laughing, always ready to play or analyze. However many years might pass before we saw each other again, it was comforting to know that he was still encouraging, playing, and organizing. So long as people like Hans were around, local chess would always exist and would always be fun.

I will miss Hans, but local chess will miss him even more. Chess is a little bit poorer now that he has gone.

David Brook

I cannot remember when I first met Hans, but since I am old and was perhaps competing in Bay Area chess before he arrived maybe you can forgive me. I remember his smile at many tournaments. I remember his shop. I remember his photographic woodwork portfolio. I remember the last and only game we played: yes Kerry, it was an Orangoutang, or Polish as in polish him off if you prefer. I have an excellent two board chess table to remember him by, and I made it to ICCF IM analyzing on top of it. It is simply beautiful, as he was in crafting it for me.

Erik Osbun

I always loved working with Hans. Now, I feel incredibly fortunate and lucky to have worked with him as much as I did. Everything that I wanted to say about Hans has already been said… (how he always smiled and how great he made people feel when we were around him). I will not speak of him with tears but with smiles. I will always Love and Miss you Hans.

Tuong Mai

Hans was a gentleman in life as well as at the chess board. I told him so often when he resigned with plenty of time left on his clock. Well, Hans did not resign from life, his time just ran out too soon. The last words I heard from him, as we left his Fremont Chess Club and he struggled to climb into his truck, were, in effect, "I am going to need some help to keep this club going." We had played three or four games of blitz that evening, and he did beat me one on time, I think it was the last one. One week later he was gone forever. Who knows, maybe I'll catch up with him somewhere in this universe and try to "get even."

I met Hans on a plane going to Germany in 1991. Noticing what looked like a German chess book in his hand, I yielded to my curiosity and gathered enough courage to approach him and to introduce myself in my obviously very rusty German. Hans politely responded about his "Tischlerei" business and the chess activities in Fremont before I realized that it was better to let him "counter my opening" in fluent English . Thanks to him, I returned to active chess play after about a 30-year absence from tournaments. I followed Hans wherever he was able to set up a club, in spite of lack of support from this multi-national city we live in; we played in community centers, in coffee shops, in book stores, in libraries, but wound up home-less most of the time in short order again. We both coached for Success Chess School, we went to Kasparov's lecture at Stanford, listened to the chess-computer experts when the chess exhibit opened at the Computer History Museum, and Hans even offered to come out of his way to give me a ride to his club when, before my cataract operation, I didn't feel comfortable traveling the dark roads into Niles. He was a true "Schachfreund" and personal friend to me.

Hans was a fine craftsman in woodworking. When he still had his shop on Osgood Drive in Fremont, he showed me picture albums of his work, but I may be the only person who has a picture autographed by Hans, showing the world's largest yo-yo, built for Dr. Tom Kuhn by Hans at Haas Woodworking, in the late 1970s, I believe. I thought I should mention it, in salute to Hans's sense of humor.

To illustrate Hans's appreciation of the art of chess, I shall add another item, a chess problem, that he called a "Beauty--the power of knights." It was one of his favorites to show to his students. In Forsyth notation, it is: 8/2Q5/8/7n/8/1N1NK3/8/5knr. White to move and checkmate the black king in five moves.

Farewell, Hans! I thank you for sharing the joy of chess with me and I also wish to thank you for the inspiration to chess that you passed on to the many children who loved to have you for a coach.

Henry Vinerts

It was more than 20 years ago at a USCF delegates meeting when I was approached by a soft spoken man with a German accent. He asked me if I would support his motion on some obscure and I thought inconsequential point. I readily consented thinking I would do this foreign gentleman a favor on an issue of no importance. How wrong I was. With Hans idea passed, the rest of a complicated problem had its pieces tumble into place. Such was the depth of Hans thinking.

Hans had a way of seeing to the heart of an issue and putting the problem in terms of its simplest common denominator.

Hans loved his wife and was a dedicated woodworker who more than once saved the tranquility of a tournament with a strategically placed piece of wood. Who else would have thought to bring along small pieces of wood just in case the tables weren't quite level?

His kindness was legendary and he was quick to perceive when someone was trying to manipulate him into the midst of a controversy.

Chess has lost a friend and so have I.

Richard Peterson

Hans will be missed. He was always a tireless volunteer on behalf of chess. He did just about everything possible to support chess in Northern California, from editing and publishing a magazine, serving on the board of CalChess, to running tournaments for students and adults alike. Nearly always affable and friendly, I can still picture him in one of his rare fits of agitation, shifting his weight back and forth from foot to foot. He was nearly hopping mad! I liked Hans, and I will miss him.

Jim Eade

It was with tremendous sadness that I learned today of the passing of my dear friend Hans Poschmann! Hans helped to spark my chess passion, as he did for so many others, over 33 years ago, when I first visited his Fremont Chess Club. His genuine love of the game was instantly contagious and the chess bug bit ever deeper. Having lived the better part of 20 years in Fremont and the Bay Area chess community, I have many fond memories of Hans. But the most memorable one will always be his hearty laugh as he ... played 1. b4 against me .. For over 30 years... always 1.b4 and "the laugh"! I will miss that!

Hans crafted one of his beautiful, one of a kind, chess tables for my wife to present to me on my 40th birthday. It is, and always will be, a cherished keepsake. A keepsake of a master wood craftsman ... to be sure ... but more so, a keepsake of one of my dearest chess friends and one of the best human beings I have had the pleasure to have known!

Farewell Hans! You will be sorely missed! I promise to play 1. b4 (maybe with a smile instead of a laugh!) in a tournament game soon, as a tribute to a wonderful man!

Chris Mavraedis

It is sad to hear the news of Hans the bpawn. The b4 opening style typified Hans the person. He was a unique person who was always willing to go off the beaten path to try something different. My lasting memory of Hans is barely a few months old when I saw him, a seventy-three year old gentleman who was struggling to walk but smiling as he carried a bunch of chess to set up for the Fremont Chess Club.

Hans may not be seen again but his memories will live deeply in our hearts forever. We love you Hans!

Salman Azhar

Since I learned about Hans' untimely passing, I have been remembering - remembering the first time I met Hans (at an Ohlone chess tournament he was directing - such a kind and friendly TD); remembering a late night Bart ride back from the People's Chess tournament where Hans cheered me up after a loss; remembering when the Fremont Chess Club was at Borders and the timid child watching others play chess was motioned over to the board by Hans, who of course proceeded to spend the whole night teaching the child how to play. There are many more memories, but all are of a completely wonderful and compassionate human being.

Hans was funny, enthusiastic, selflessly giving - in everything he showed a pureness of heart, basic goodness, and caring nature. And although he was always modest about his accomplishments, it is impossible to be modest in our praise for everything Hans did for the chess community, for his co-workers, for his friends, for his family. His sudden absence is tragic and deeply saddening, as I can not help but think how much he had left to give - when I saw him last just recently he was as vibrant as ever, with that familiar twinkle in his eyes and cheerful smile. Perhaps somewhere and somehow Hans is serving another purpose now; but in this world, in chess and in life, we have lost one of our best.

Hans - noble and gentle soul, Godspeed.

Bela Evans

Hans was one of the most influential figures in my chess career. He was my coach at Montessori Elementary before I was even taking classes from Success Chess. From the beginning, I remember him beating me w/ the Orangutan and wondering how I could lose to this genial old man this way. Over time, Hans was a boss, co-worker, and even employee for my Clubsport Swisses. I remember always waiting for Friday nights so I could go to the Fremont Chess Club that Hans ran. Whenever there was anything he could do to help chess, he did it, sometimes at great personal sacrifice. His presence will be very missed.

Ryan Ko

Not only did Hans make a huge impact in CA chess, he made a huge impact in my life. I knew him since I was 5 years old, and as I grew up he would guide me through my chess career. I saw him every week at Weibel Elementary for Chess Club or Team and took his classes. He was such a friendly good-hearted man, and I loved talking to him. I remember one time I played him and actually won, and I was so happy that I told everybody of my achievement. But...now that I think about it I'm pretty sure he let me win.

When I volunteered at the chess club in Weibel, I also saw him weekly. However, even when we said "hi" to each other, every time I knew, he had forgotten who I was. I really regret not telling him or reminding him it was me. Maybe he remembered, maybe he didn't but I will never know. Hans was a great man, whom I was very close with throughout my childhood. He was friendly and courteous, always having a smile on his face and always ready to lend a helping hand. I knew him for 10 years, and I will never forget him.

Rest in peace, Hans Poschmann.

Sharon Tseung

Hans was my very first chess teacher. He was a great man, and I will never forget those classes. In the last few months of his illustrious life, I watched him suffer to even walk down stairs. Yet he was at every chess tournament--always ready to lend his commentary to anything. I remember, in second grade, him asking me what the third rule of chess was (out of the 30 rules, as anyone acquainted with Mr. Shorman will know), and I remember answering "Knights before bishops." I remember playing a game of chess against him, when I lost miserably. Those moments are forever. He was eager to help students, and forever will he live on in our hearts. I will never forget Hans-- a master carpenter, a chess teacher, and an extraordinary person. Thanks, Hans.

Ranjeetha Bharath

Hans was loved by all. I knew him as a player, TD, organizer, politician and teacher. One of my last discussions with him focused on the USCF rule book--it was too complex and he had ideas to improve it. In everything, his goal was quite simple: if there was a way that he could contribute to the chess community, he would do it. Hans was not selfish; Caissa always came before his personal needs.

What I will remember about Hans is his smile. He loved chess. He made it his business to make sure all chess players were happy. If he saw that you were not smiling, he would ask why--sometimes to the point of being nosy. The motto "life's short, play hard" definitely applies to this great man.

Hans will be missed by many. Auf wiedersehen! God bless!

Michael Aigner

I first met Hans at Alan Kirshner's summer quads when I began tournament directing. Never had I met such a kind and courteous man like Hans. I could tell he loved the game of chess and that he loved promoting the game. The way he taught you something showed his wonderful enthusiasm for the game.

Over the past 6 years I have worked with Hans at tournaments and he played at one of my events. It was always a pleasure to work with him. He was a genuine man and whenever you saw him he had a big smile on his face. He was always willing to help you and always willing to be there for you. He was one of the finest men I have ever met.

Everyone loved him and he will truly be missed. Goodbye Hans

Jacob Green

I first met Hans in 1970 as CFNC (Chess Friends of Northern California) team captains, when his Fremont team played and beat my Chabot Junior College team. We became good friends in the mid-1980's when I gave a number of simultaneous exhibitions at his Fremont Chess Club. In the 1990's, I would often go over to his home in Fremont to work on his computer and, in turn, he would make me chess or computer tables built to my specifications. He owned and operated his own cabinetry business; he was a master craftsman with wood.

An over-the-board class A player and an ICCF master, he was passionately involved with correspondence chess. Another passion of his was the Orangutan Opening, which he played whenever the opportunity presented itself, both in correspondence and over-the-board play. Often, he would show me an interesting position (usually an Orangutan) with a request for my input and we spent many an enjoyable hour going over such positions.

Hans: I will miss your acerbic wit and ready smile. Goodbye old friend.

Kerry Lawless

Hans was a club and tournament director in southern Alameda County for many, many years. I attended his club in Fremont when I was in high school, and badgered him into helping me with my German homework. He taught chess to little kids, and as an adult I badgered him for teaching his favorite 1. b4.

My last conversation with Hans was the best one, and the one I won't forget. At the Stockton Grade Level tournament last year, Hans and I were sitting at a chessboard, and he started showing me a chess lesson he gave to a kid.

Hans, are you really going to show ME a chess lesson you gave to a little kid?, I thought, but I watched Hans have so much fun explaining this and that, and it was enjoyable even when he forgot things, or stumbled a bit.

Hans was the finest woodworker I knew, crafting a dollhouse chess table for a woman I liked, and the great demonstration board that I still use (though I lost his wonderful pieces years ago; one of the stupidest things I ever did). Hans helped me learn some of his native German, and he helped me learn that it's more than OK to watch other people have fun.

Frisco Del Rosario

On September 22, 2006 Hans Poschmann passed away less then a month after his 74th birthday. Hans was a good friend and a man who was admired and respected by all that knew him both within and outside the chess community. A few hours back, a chess mother called me to ask me a question and I told her about Hans' death. She broke down in tears much like so many of us have done-if not externally than inside.

Hans was born in Germany in 1932 and as a young man his parents moved to Berlin. He was trained as a Cabinet Maker, but joined the Berlin police force at 19. There he loved to compete in track and field.events. However, one of his fellow officers told him he had to develop his mind as well and taught him how to play chess. Hans took to the game with a passion even taking lessons from a German champion. He, his wife and baby daughter emigrated to the United States around 1959. His second daughter was born in the U.S.

Hans and his family settled in Fremont where he became part of the local chess scene. He helped to organize the Fremont Chess club and continued, up until his death, to be the moving spirit behind its continued life. He got involved in the politics of Northern California and help draft the motion to separate the State into two. He held every office there was to hold over the years in the Northern California Association that later was renamed CalChess. He started the organizations journal and ran numerous tournaments-another of his passions. He became a senior Tournament Director. Across the chess board he reached the A level and through the mail he became a correspondence Chess Master. In recent years, he continued playing correspondence chess internationally via e-mail.

Hans for the last 9 years developed a new passion-teaching. His ever present smile and the warmth he exuded made him a natural. The kids loved him in the same manner we all did. He enjoyed taking photographs of his charges and posting them on the net.

The thing I loved most of about Hans was that he was real. His smile, his laugh, his warmth, his love of people and his extrovert personality in social situations was really him. Damn he will be missed.

A little over a year ago a short while after he was diagnosed with a form of leukemia I asked him to allow me to produce his oral autobiography.

Alan M. Kirshner

I will always remember Hans for his quick smile and good nature. A true champion of the game, a teacher, and a good friend.

Mark Shelton

If you would like to say something in memory of Hans and have it posted here, please email your tribute to me at marks26thmed@yahoo.com

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