Chess is experiencing increasing popularity among young Vietnamese, particularly in larger cities.

Chess has a long-standing and cherished tradition in former Soviet countries
Chess has a long-standing and cherished tradition in former Soviet countries

The esteemed “Game of Kings” has been fostered and supported in Vietnam for quite some time, owing to the close relationship between Vietnam and the countries of the former Soviet Union, renowned for producing some of the world’s best chess players.

Preserving time-proven traditions and offering valuable lessons in strategic thinking enable the younger generation to navigate life’s challenges more effectively, attracting increasing numbers of aspirational individuals to chess.

Daniel Fischer, an expatriate from the Rhineland and steady supporter of the local Bitcoin community, who relocated to Vietnam seven years ago, has been an avid club chess player for many years.

Daniel Fischer, an expatriate from the Rhineland and steady supporter of the local Bitcoin community, who relocated to Vietnam seven years ago, has been an avid club chess player for many years. 

Recently, he founded the Landmark Chess Club, providing a starting point for young players to learn the game and establish a supportive community in this area of the city. 

This initiative aims to preserve traditions and facilitate the transfer of skills between generations.

BitcoinVN News: You, like an increasing number of freedom-minded and generally proactive people, left Europe behind. What made you choose Saigon as your place to live at this stage of life?

Daniel Fischer: It was more happenstance than a deliberate decision. I had given up my 9-5 job in 2016 and was travelling in South-East Asia when I met the woman that would become my wife, in Saigon. It was an easy decision for me to settle down here.

BitcoinVN News: When and how did you personally discover your passion for chess?

Daniel Fischer: I learned the rules when I was about six, and at about 12 I joined my school’s chess club. One year, we won the state team competition and qualified for the national competition. This was the time when I started studying chess seriously, with books and magazines, in the pre-internet age. 

BitcoinVN News: What skills can one typically learn from playing chess, and why should people start young to become familiar with it?

Daniel Fischer: First of all, it’s a lot of fun! Testing yourself against stronger and stronger opponents, playing in tournaments, team competitions. The game itself is thrilling. There is a certain threshold to overcome before you can appreciate the beauty of the game, but once you do, you will have your mind blown again and again. And then there are the skills that chess teaches particularly well: recognising patterns, planning ahead, and using your time and your resources wisely, for example.

BitcoinVN News: What inspired you to start the Landmark Chess Club, and what are its mission goals? Which audience are you aiming to attract?

Daniel Fischer: I wanted to start Landmark Chess to give local chess enthusiasts the opportunity to play over-the-board chess. In our first tournament we had players from the age of 12 to 46. Our events are probably mostly suited for school children and students, but everyone is welcome, and I think it’s a valuable experience for young players to test themselves against older and more experienced players. Hopefully we will grow into a sizable community, so we can have more and bigger events in the Binh Thanh area in the future. 

BitcoinVN News: What are some of the chess events in Vietnam in 2024 that you are most excited about?

Daniel Fischer: There are no events on my radar in 2024, but the Vietnam Open 2025 will take place in Danang from February 7th to 16th, at a beach resort, and I intend to play it. I used to enjoy playing chess opens a lot back in the day, as it gives you the opportunity to be paired against international masters and grandmasters. I have yet to explore the scene in Vietnam though. There is the Bangkok Open, for people who don’t mind hopping to Thailand, from April 13th to 21st this year.

BitcoinVN News: Who are your three favourite Chess Grand Masters of all time, and what specifically made them stand out to you?

Daniel Fischer: My number one would be Magnus Carlsen, the most recent world champion. The reason I like him so much is that he is a down to earth chess bro with a wicked sense of humour (while being insanely talented and accomplished). He plays a lot of online games on live streams, so it’s even possible to play a game against him if you are lucky. We have never had a champion as accessible as Magnus, so I think he was the perfect champion for our age. (Magnus has decided not to defend his title for a sixth time because he doesn’t like the format of the classical chess championship).

As number two I’m choosing Ukrainian grandmaster Vassily Ivanchuk, who is a contender for the strongest player who never became world champion. He is one of those guys who are doing it all for the love of the game. There is a video of him on a pedestal, holding a trophy, and you can see him staring at the ceiling, clearly doing calculations in his head. 

As number three I’m going to name Tigran Gharamian, a French grandmaster I played against in the 2016 Capelle-la-Grand open in France. At the time, Tigran was a very strong grandmaster, rated maybe 600 points higher than me. He probably could have blown me off the board much quicker than he did, but he showed impeccable sportsmanship and treated this game like any other. He even took the time for a post-mortem analysis with me. 

BitcoinVN News: What are some of the long-term visions and goals you have for the club and for your life in general?

Daniel Fischer: I hope that Landmark Chess will become a thriving chess community, where competition and friendships happen. Personally, I would like to teach more chess classes. I also teach German and English, and chess might be attractive as an activity for children in order to apply the language skills that they typically study so hard for in Vietnam. 

BitcoinVN News: For people who don’t know much about chess but would like to get started, what is your recommendation to get going?

Daniel Fischer: Since most of the world was stuck at home a couple of years ago, chess has experienced a boom. Many very strong players have started streaming, like Hikaru Nakamura and Magnus Carlsen. There are plenty of YouTube channels which go through games of current tournaments. If you are younger, TikTok has a lot of chess content. And then there are the big chess apps, where you can register for free and have an enormous amount of resources at your fingertips. There has neve been a better time to get into chess!

Want to get in touch with Daniel or Landmark Chess Club?

Follow their Facebook page or mail them directly via [email protected]