With Lourenço Cordioli at Ludwig Engels’ grave in São Paulo

Ludwig Engels was born in Düsseldorf on 11/12/1905, he passed away in São Paulo on 10/01/1967. His outstanding successes were: a) the 2nd place in the tournament Dresden 1936, closely behind Alexander Alekhine whom he had beaten; and b) the Olympiad victory 1939 in Buenos Aires at the 3rd board with the (greater) German team, with the best individual result of all participants.

Lourenço Cordioli is Ludwig Engels’ oldest and best friend. He supported the master who got stranded penniless in São Paulo after the Chess Olympiad at Buenos Aires 1941, and he helped him to get over the hard wartime. In return Engels trained him to become a strong player who had won the chess championship of São Paulo three times in a row (1947-49), an unequalled achievement until today.

In 2007 Lourenço (together with his son Jairo) had visited the Düsseldorf chess club 1854. During my return visit to São Paulo I had the privilege and the pleasure to stay in Lourenço’s home, he had just turned 95 and enjoyed – appropriate for his age – a good health, living in his own house together with his two grandchildren. On 5th of October, 2011 we jointly visited Ludwig Engels’ grave at the Cemitério da Lapa. There it is located at the plot Q.70, T.84. Unfortunately the grave is neglected today, but it is rumored that it will be restored by the Clube de Xadrez 1902.

In his library at São Paulo Herman Claudius van Riemsdijk showed me the below reproduced obituary of Ludwig Engels. It was published (under the given title) in the same column of the daily "O Estado de São Paulo" which Engels had edited for many years up to his death. Unlike the obituaries known so far to me it is from a competent hand, namely from Hélder Câmara, the two times master of Brazil (1963 and 1968) and Engels’ successor (1967-70) at "O Estado". Câmara was one of the last who had met Engels still alive after his stroke, and therefore he has also preserved an intense devotedness to him. In flowery words (which remind of his uncle with the same name, the famous liberation theologian and archbishop of Recife) Câmara also clearly describes the importance which was attributed to Engels regarding the development of Brazilian chess. (Translation of the author; without Engels’ well-known chess career.)

Master Engels

"There is life which only unveils by its death. Life in balance and in contemplation, in beneficial constructive work and in expectation and forming of the future. If you may draw a comparison: Such a life doesn’t remind of the magnificently crowned Pawn on the 8th rank of the world, but of that effective Pawn who stands nearly forgotten on the 6th rank of the world affairs. But it is this one the mating net emanates from, which leads to triumph and singles out a game. Such a man was Master Ludwig Engels with his calm and productive advancement of the art of chess.

He had already witnessed the conflict 1914-18 in Europe when he left a Europe churned up by the menace of World War II. Nevertheless the most Brazilian of all German chess players was an even-tempered man, focused on the maze of his reflections, on his deep analyses. If there are few among us who enjoyed the experience of being close to him, he openly exposed to all the purity of his noble feelings. And in addition to the dissemination of his flawless chess technique, in the quarter century he lived in Brazil he gave the art of Caissa a new impulse, a progress in an exceptional dimension. (…)

He cooperated with the outstanding chess publications all over the world and was the editor of this column as well. He defended the Brazilian chess in different international contests, always in a brilliant way.

And for his countless work we mourn today the passing of a man who has formed so many masters of São Paulo and Brazil."

Friedrich-Karl Hebeker, in November 2011

(English translation by R.B.)