Erwin Knopfler was born 1909 in Hungary. As a youth he attended university in Brunn, Czechoslovia (what is now the Czech Republic) and studied architecture. As a political prisoner during the 1930s he played chess using scraps of paper. Fleeing the Nazis in 1939, he settled in Glasgow, Scotland.
Erwin Knopfler was the father of the famed brother-guitarists Mark and David Knopfler of the rock group Dire Straits. Mark and David were born in Glasgow in 1949 and 1952 respectively.
In the early 1950s Erwin Knopfler was one of the strongest players in Scotland. He finished 2nd (5/8) to Dr. Aitken in the 1953 Scottish Championship. He played in the 1952 and 1954 Scottish Chess Championships, and played board 2 for the defunct Glasgow Chess Club behind 11-time Scottish Champion W. A. Fairhurst. Knopfler had at least a dozen books on chess theory.
[White "Erwin Knopfler"]
[Black "Ian Candlish Kirkwood"]
1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. g3 g6 4. Bg2 Bg7 5. Nge2 e6 6. d3 Nge7 7. O-O O-O 8. Nf4 d6 9. Nce2 b5 10. c3 Rb8 11. Qc2 Bb7 12. Be3 e5 13. Nh3 Qd7 14. Ng5 Kh8 15. Rad1 f6 16. Nf3 Qc7 17. Qd2 Rfd8 18. Ne1 a5 19. f4 f5 20. Qc2 Bc8 21. Nf3 b4 22. Ng5 Rf8 23. fxe5 Nxe5 24. Nf4 Rf6 25. cxb4 axb4 26. Bc1 h6 27. d4 hxg5 28. Nd5 Nxd5 29. dxe5 dxe5 30. Rxd5 Rc6 31. exf5 Bxf5 32. Qd1 Re6 33. Bxg5 Qa7 34. Be3 Qxa2 35. Rd8+ Rxd8 36. Qxd8+ Kh7 37. Bd5 Qxb2 38. Qh4+ Kg8 39. Rxf5 Qa1+ 40. Rf1 Qa6 41. Qe7 1-0
According to Erwin's son David, both Erwin and his brothers played chess. Erwin was a big admirer of Boris Spassky. In the late 1970s David and his father Erwin bumped into Spassky at a London chess tournament. Erwin recognized Spassky at once and was "thrilled to be in such illustrious company."
The aforementioned Scottish Championship proved a bit too stressful for Erwin who was holding down a full-time job and raising three children. But even in his seventies he could still beat David (and most other players) without much effort. He was always a very strong player. He taught all of his kids to play from a very early age. David learned at the age of 4.
One of Erwin Knopfler's opponents, Ian Candlish Kirkwood (1932-2017), was a strong chess player, chess patron of Scotland, and became an appellate judge in 1987. In 2002 Lord Kirkwood was one of five judges to hear the 2002 Lockerbie Appeal in the special Scottish court in the Netherlands. Lord Kirkwood never had a judgment overturned on appeal.
Erwin Knopfler passed away in 1993 at the age of eighty-four.
Lord Kirkwood, Obituary
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