Championship disciplines under the microscope: Impressioning



While preparing the anniversary Czech lockpicking championship, it occurred to us that we could write for our readers, lockpicker, partners and sponsors a closer look at the individual competition disciplines and perhaps also mention some interesting things from the past championships.


The first official Czech Lockpicking Championship took place on Saturday, September 18, 2010, in a sports club Sokol in Prague Vršovice. It was an important day for lockpicking in our region. Many lockpickers from the Czech Republic and Slovakia entered the competition, which included several disciplines including impressioning. In the impressioning contest, there was a time limit of 60 minutes and only a single contestant was able to produce a working key, some competitors even withdrew from the contest.

Impressioning is one of the harder disciplines; it requires precision, skill and a lot of patience. Evžen Ivanov became the only Czech impressioning champion. For a long time, this discipline did not reappear at the championship for one simple reason: there were very few others that mastered the craft. This year, however, impressioning will once again find its place in the 2019 lockpicking championship.


Impressioning, simply put, is the process of determining the shape of a key. There are two different techniques termed impressioning. The first one uses an original key which is imprinted into a soft material to form a mold used to cast a new key. The second is more interesting for lockpickers because it involves getting a functional key directly from the lock without damaging or disassembling it. At our championship, we will compete in traditional impressioning, where a key blank is used to produce the key by filing it with a hand file.

In some areas of the world, impressioning is relatively common and one of the basic locksmithing techniques. Here in the Czech Republic, it is mostly unknown. For a long time, Evžen Ivanov, the pioneer of Czech lockpicking, was the only one who mastered the technique of impressioning and was able to compete with foreign competitors.


To learn more about impressioning, we organized a workshop for the members of our association in 2017. We invited German specialists Dr. Torsten Quast and Bill Lenze from the German SSDeV (Sportsfreunde der Sperrtechnik Deutschland e.V.). During the two-day seminar, we had the opportunity to study the theoretical foundations and also to try to practice opening Abus and FAB cylinders. As part of the 10th annual Czech Championship, we decided to include the impressioning discipline in the program and thus support the development of our members in cooperation with international experts.


For this year, we are expecting contestants from both the Czech Republic and other countries. Compared to 2010, where there was only one competition round, this year’s competition is already divided into two parts, similarly as in the German and Dutch championships. In the qualification round, all the lockpicks seated at several tables have a time limit of 40 minutes to open the cylinder that we provide for the competition. The first 4-6 contestants to open the lock advance to the A finals. The next 4-6 contestants advance to the B finals, others are eliminated. In the finals, there will be multiple 20 minute rounds. The complete competition rules of this discipline are described below.

Note: Exact lock brands and models will be known in advance.


Allowed tools

  • A vise attachable to the table (required)
  • Any manual file to file the key (reuqired)
  • Impressioning handle/fixation grip for the blank, e.g. a vise grip (required)
  • Any optical aid
  • A caliper, a depth gauge or any other measurement device
  • Any aids for marking
  • Paper and pen


  • Arrive early (at least 15 minutes before the start of the competition)
  • The competitors need to have their own equipment


  • It is not allowed to probe into the cylinder with a picking tool (and of course also not to pick it open or decode it any other way).
  • The minimum distance between the competitors has to be at least 1 meter.
  • Random seats are assigned. There is one qualification round and several final rounds.
  • It is not allowed to tension the cylinder (e.g. using the vise to tension the cam)
  • It is not allowed to do any work on the blank before the competition round is started. Clamping the blank in a handle/vise grip however is allowed.
  • The amount of blanks each competitor can us is not limited.
  • The cylinder is regarded as “open” when the core is turned by 90 degrees.
  • After the cylinder is opened, the key remains inside of the cylinder until the end of that competition round.
  • When the contestants open the lock, they indicate this to the referee by saying “Open!” out loud and raising their hand. The referee then informs the contestants about their opening time and the contestants writes down the time into the provided sheet.
  • It is allowed to turn the cylinder freely and try to open either side.
  • Any markings of the blanks can be done only after the round has started.
  • The time limit is 40 minutes in the qualification round and 20 minutes in the finals.

Qualification round

  • Every contestant gets a cylinder a set of blanks
  • The bitting of the cylinder in the qualification round is the same for all cylinders
  • First 4-6 contestants to open the cylinder, advance to the A finals. Next 4-6 contestants advance to the B finals, other contestants are eliminated from the competition but can finish trying to open the lock.
  • The number of contestants advancing to the finals will depend on number of participants and will be announced before the start of the competition.

A & B Finals

  • In the finals, the contestants have 20 minutes to open each lock.
  • The cylinders have different bitting, in A finals the locks are more difficult than in B finals.
  • The cylinders are assigned randomly and passed around the table.
  • Before the locks are passed around, the referees collect the used blanks.
  • For each cylinder opened the contestant gains a point.
  • The order is given by the number of points obtained. In case of a draw, the total opening time is considered.