Paul van der Sterren was born in Venlo, Holland on 17 March 1956.
Limburg Championship 1971

He was taught the game of chess at the age of 13 and immediately started to participate in school competitons. He became a member of the Venlo Chess Club during the same year, 1969, and quickly became infatuated with the game.

When he was 18 he took up law at Amsterdam University, but quickly turned himself into a professional chess player, which he remained until his retirement from tournament chess at the age of 45.
Timman vs. Van der Sterren, Lone Pine 1978

FIDE awarded him the title of International Master in 1979 and of International Grandmaster in 1989.

Between about 1980 and 2000 he was one of the top players in Holland, representing his country in eight Chess Olympiads, winning several tournaments and becoming Dutch champion in 1985 and 1993.
In the latter year he also qualified for the Candidates Matches, the final stage of the World Championship cycle in those days, by coming second in the immensely strong Interzonal Tournament in Biel. He lost in the quarter finals to American GM Gata Kamsky in a match that was held in Wijk aan Zee in 1994.

Paul van der Sterren has played for several clubs in the Dutch club league, most notably for Desisco/Watergraafsmeer and HSG, and for Castrop-Rauxel in the German Bundesliga.

Biel 1993

From his earliest chess years he has also been writing about chess. He was a regular contributor to the Dutch chess magazines Schakend Nederland and Schaakbulletin and he was one of the founding editors of New in Chess, for whose series of Yearbooks he has contributed over a hundred articles about opening theory.

After his retirement in 2001 Paul has found the time to write a number of well-received books of which De wereld van de Schaakopening has been translated in English. It was renamed Fundamental Chess Openings and published by Gambit in 2009.
Your First Chess Lessons for the absolute beginner has recently been published, in October 2016.

The rest of his writings has been in Dutch and are still waiting for an English translation, most prominently Zwart op Wit. In this groundbreaking autobiography Paul talks candidly about his chess career. The book was hugely praised throughout the Dutch press.

In 2010 he made a very modest comeback behind the chess board. He now plays in the Dutch league for the Amsterdam club Caissa. In October 2011 he played his first tournament in more than ten years, the Euwe Memorial in Amsterdam.

Buddhism and Non-Duality

In 1998 Van der Sterren started practicing Vipassana (Insight) meditation. He attended several intensive retreats. Later he became a meditation teacher himself in the Amsterdam Meditation Centre Buddhavihara.
In 2005 he was struck by the discrepancy between the Buddhist concept of "no self" and the practice of improving yourself by meditation. Attending the meetings given by Tony Parsons confirmed him in this view and he then gave up the idea of a "spiritual career" altogether.
Since then he has written three books about Non-Duality (Advaita): Verlichting in een lege verpakking (Enlightenment in an empty box), Over het brein, non-dualiteit en vrije wil (The brain, non-duality and free will) and Gedachten over het ondenkbare (Thoughts on the unthinkable).