Take it Outside: Fresh Air Chess in the Big City – uschess.org

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In part two of her series on outdoor chess tables, WIM Alexey Root profiles organizers of rated outdoor tournaments in New York City, Chicago and Fremont, CA. Part one is available here.

At the Old Mission Park in Fremont, CA, 13-year-old Pranav Sairam ran two US Chess-rated outdoor tournaments on Saturday, Oct. 17: A four-player round robin G/60 d5 and a side blitz match of G/3+2. Pranav, an accomplished chess player coached by Grandmaster DejanBojkov, recently turned to tournament organization in order to find US Chess-rated games for himself and other chess players.

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Pranav Sairam, left, organized two US Chess rated tournaments at the Old Mission Park in Fremont, CA in October.

Pranav was getting a little disappointed by not having any over-the-board tournaments to play in during the pandemic, said his father, SairamRamabadran. Sohe decided to do something aboutit, andgot himself certified as a TD over the summer. He started the San Jose Chess Club, organizing online rated tournaments through this affiliate before its first over-the-board tournament outdoors on October 17.

For that October 17 tournament, Pranav minimized COVID-19 risks.Ramabadrannoted, The picnic tables in the park were 10-15 feet apart. All participants were expected to wear gloves and face masks. The chess pieces were sanitized. Fresh disposable gloves, hand sanitizers, and wipes were provided at the venue.

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Chess in the fresh air at Old Mission Park in Fremont, CA.

For CLO, Pranav annotates his second-round win.

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The Lincoln Square Chess Club runs an US Chess-rated blitz tournament at Welles Park in Chicago.

US Chess Tournament Director of the Year Glenn Panner is using his chess expertise outdoors by assisting the Lincoln Square Chess Clubwith US Chess-rated blitz tournaments at Welles Park.

All players needed to wear masks, Panner said. In fact, we had a couple of volunteers monitoring that the masks were not onlyworn at all times, but that they also werent slipping beneath the players noses. Those volunteers were also in charge of disinfecting the boards, sets, clocks, and tables in between rounds.

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US Chess TD of the Year Glenn Panner, in white, helps the Lincoln Square Chess Club run blitz tournaments in Welles Park in Chicago.

Even though some players were still hesitant to return to over-the-board chess, more decided to join once they saw the COVID-19 precautions in place. Panner saidGM YaroslavZherebukh, who lives only a couple of blocks away from Lincoln Square, joined one of the blitz tournaments. GMZherebukhblew through the field with a perfect 12-0 score!

Matthew Zatkoff, founder of the Lincoln Square club, addedI have been impressed by the cooperative spirit of the players. Without cooperation, our clubs COVID-19 safety rules would be of little use. I have had zero incidents regarding the following of the COVID-19 rules. Everyone wants to play over-the-board, and they are willing to do what it takes to make that happen. I had a few apprehensive players come on the first day. By the end of the first day, they said they felt safer than they would on a normal day going to the grocery store or walking around the streets. That's about as good as I think one could ask for!

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New COVID safety rules were employed as players compete at Welles Park in Chicago.

NM Tyrell Harriotts website includes registration information for rated outdoor tournaments in Queens, at Cunningham Park. There are also rated outdoor tournaments at Washington Square Park, run on Wednesdays and Saturdays by Anthony Cheese Kozikowski and Eric Balck. Tournaments are four rounds of G/25 d5, and if there is rain on a scheduled day, the tournament is bumped to the following day.

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Players enjoy chess outdoors at Cunningham Park in Queens.

Since August, these outdoor tournaments have supported players over-the-board rating ambitions. Harriott earned his Original Life Master title, defined as a National Master who has played 300 games with a rating over 2200, at the end of an outdoor tournament on National Chess Day, Oct. 10. Kozikowski is also trying for the Life Master title. Jessica Hyatt and Adia Onyango are two more participants who are striving to become National Masters.

Here is a game between the two NYC organizers that helped Harriott earn his Original Life Master title.

Tournaments start at 10 a.m., to avoid non-chess players taking up the park benches, Harriott said. Additionally, the early start means more daylight for visibility and warmth. Pairings and standings are posted online using my laptop and cellphone.

Safety precautions include masks and having hand sanitizers available and, for any player who feels things are too risky to attend, Harriott streams the tournaments on Facebook Live and Twitch channel. A video for a special tournament held on National Chess Dayis available here.

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An outdoor chess tournament at Cunningham Park in New York City streamed live on Facebook.

When winter comes, most outdoor chess tables go dormant until spring. The organizers mentioned in this two-part series are already planning rated tournaments outdoors for the spring of 2021. To learn how to facilitate rated and unrated games outdoors, and connect with other outdoor chess enthusiasts, consider joining the Outdoor Chess Tables Facebook group.

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Take it Outside: Fresh Air Chess in the Big City - uschess.org

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