My passion for chess – and with it both abilities and illusions – had reached its peak that year. Although I had missed the Berlin Championship for the second time under unusual — one could also say tragic — circumstances, there were only slight doubts about my special abilities, and if there were any, then they were related to implementation. So I had generously asked my home club Lasker-Steglitz, which had not qualified for the 1st Bundesliga, for an “exemption” in order to look for a club willing to pay, which would provide me with a place in this newly founded elite class. My teammates did not put any obstacles in my way and so I left for the big wide (chess) world.
In the summer I “landed” in Bochum, where the local SG Bochum 31 not only fulfilled such dreams for me, but even the team manager had a room for me in his house at Velsstraße 102, which was permanently at my disposal. When the chess world found out about it, it earned me the Bild headline “Pauli goes to Bochum”. But that was only in my imagination. Because it was the Tagesspiegel and the chess column there that explained that I was going to Bochum to play chess and continue my studies. Well, I didn’t insist on a rebuttal. Because the part about chess was true after all….
So I was in Bochum in my tiny room in the attic and played a tournament in Dortmund. The team manager, his wife and child were away, so he generously gave me access to his flat, which I used in such a way that I could watch the European Championship live on TV. And that brings me to the topic at hand, and I’m pretty much done with it. I won the tournament in Dortmund, for which I was paid DM 2000, and Germany became European champions. There you go, things are going well.
Only I was long past wishing or begrudging the Germans these forms and quantities of happiness. It was getting to be enough. After all, it didn’t even annoy me that the kickers managed to win through again and again. I perhaps even liked them, because I was sure that they actually also knew that they were only “primus inter pares” again and again, that they were not really better than the rest of the world and that every game was a new challenge in which a few lucky circumstances also had to come together for one to win it in the end. It was more the public attitude, the portrayal of the reporters that started to bother me. As if it always had to go on like this and would. One got used to the victories. Only perhaps I could already foresee that the fall would be all the more profound if it should not succeed once. And this “fall” even occurred four years later… of which elsewhere. However, the turnaround of all reporters was remarkable…
For this year, the statement “Football is a game with 22 men, one ball and in the end Germany wins” got new breeding ground. Were they really the best? What did the world have to think of the “Monster Germany”? In any case, I began to change parties and urgently wish for defeats. Above all because of the public attitude and the reporting. Just think that the Germans also managed to qualify for all the major tournaments. And there, too, there would be a percentage that would be against it. And that starts with the luck of the group draws, which practically always favours the Germans.