A DUTCH chess grandmaster has put his career on hold to serve as a missionary in Motherwell.
Daan Brandenburg, from the small town of Drachten, has agreed to a two-year eldership within the Church of the Latter Day Saints in Orbiston Street, having trained at the missionary centre in Preston.
The linguistics students says it took him some time after being baptised three years ago to decide it was what he wanted to do.
Daan said: “I wasn’t thinking about becoming a missionary, but after I was baptised it seemed the normal thing to do in the end.
“Even then it took me some time to decide I wanted to go, but when I found out about the true gospel it seemed a natural choice.
“Missionary work isn’t just about poor people and we are in most countries to share the gospel, and while the destination was chosen for me I’m happy to be here.”
The Motherwell ward, which also takes in the likes of Hamilton, Lanark, Shotts and Douglas, has 500 members and Daan says the elders are kept very busy.
He said: “There is no typical day, we try and find new people who want to find out about the church and serve the members of our church who are unable to come to church or perhaps have some difficulties.
“Every day is different, but it’s all about helping others to come closer to Christ and although the weather is a little worse than in the Netherlands, my experience has been good so far.”
Daan was awarded the title of chess grandmaster last year at the age of 23 and believes it is quickly becoming a young man’s game.
He said: “I started playing when I was eight, I learned it from my father and then started going to a club with my brother which I really liked.
“In the local area I was pretty good, but it took some time to become one of the better players in the country, and earn the status of grandmaster.
“Nowadays the chess players are getting younger and younger so while being 23 was still fairly young, some people from Russia get it when they are 12, but that’s a different world.
“There are 25 grandmasters in Netherlands at the moment and there will be more, the title only started 50 years ago so the numbers will increase, but it is still difficult to achieve.
“I haven’t won that many tournaments, but I have come close on several occasions and even finished eighth in the Dutch national championship which is better than my ranking.”
Other than the odd friendly game against church members Daan says he is happy to wait until he returns home to resume the chess, along with the rest of his life.
He said: “I have basically given it up for two years and after that I’ll pick it back up again, I have played against some members but no real competition.
“After my two years in Motherwell I plan to finish my studies in linguistics and do a Masters degree.
“For the time being we are pretty busy working six days, but it’s a lot of fun and really rewarding so I’ll just enjoy it in the meantime and then get back to normal life.”