Chess in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic has changed greatly, but in Dulles, Virginia, last month, they took precautions and played the old-school way.
When the COVID-19 pandemic began in the U.S., some of the earliest high-profile changes in American life came in the realm of sports: In quick succession in March, the NBA and NHL suspended their seasons, while MLB delayed the start of their year, eventually playing a severely truncated season.
Though chess isnt as high in the American consciousness as those sports, the pandemic shut the game down even more completely. With rooms full of people sitting and playing, opponents and neighboring games a couple feet from each other, for hours, it was obvious that tournament chess couldnt continue.
It still mostly doesnt, but last month, in Dulles, Virginia, the first face-to-face tournament in the D.C. area since March was played, as about 130 players competed in the U.S. Class Championship.
Organizer Anand Dommalpati told WTOP that the field was about half what the U.S. Class generally draws, but that I didnt even expect this much, considering the scary situation. But I think all the players are very cooperative, and theyre all following the protocols.
More Coronavirus News
Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia|Maryland|D.C.
Dommalpati considered the risks each player had to sign a waiver. But the appeal of the game outweighed the other factors, including for his teenage daughter, a tournament player whose interest in chess got him into organizing tournaments in the first place.
He said his daughter was getting tired of playing online, just because they sit at the computer screen for a long time. And she was OK during the summer, but once school started, theyre already on the screen for six hours, seven hours.
Then comes homework, which is several more hours. Then she gets tired of screen time. She said, No; I dont want to play online chess its just so boring. I think that made me think, OK, now its an opportunity.
Masks were required; spectators were banned. Boards were placed much farther apart than usual. After each game, players paused to wipe off the pieces.
Dommalpati and his staff sprayed each board and set, and the hotel staff came through and cleaned the room after all games were finished in each round.
Players had to leave the hotel after their games, unless they were guests of the hotel, in which case they had to go to their rooms.
At one point, a rules dispute broke out, and chief tournament director Rudy Abate, of Henderson, North Carolina, had to break up a group of players who had gravitated toward the argument. Still, he agreed, the players are very cooperative.
When traditional activities had to shut down in person, many of them moved online. In some ways, chess was perfectly suited for that transition. Many people play online already, and the game doesnt lose much in translation: You cant face a split-fingered fastball online, but a virtual Knight moving from c6 to d4 makes you think as hard as a wooden one.
Indeed, online-only enterprises such as the PRO Chess League and the Magnus Grand Prix (organized by Norwegian world champion Magnus Carlsen) have stepped into the gap. The U.S. Championship, as well as the Olympiad (the world team championship), were played online.
Chess-related livestreams on platforms such as Twitch have garnered millions of fans, and made substantial money for talented streamers, such as former U.S. Champion Hikaru Nakamura.
It raises the question: The longer the pandemic goes on, and the more players get used to playing online, will they come back to over-the-board chess? Will chess become a video game, albeit a high-class one?
Its possible, Abate said. Dommalpati added that he knows of players who have only played online.
But for most of the players and officials at the U.S. Class, the real-world game was here to stay.
Michael Hoffpauir, the president of the U.S. Chess Federation and the executive secretary and treasurer of the Virginia Chess Federation, said the pandemic, and the move online, has definitely changed the nature of the game.
Hes not worried that online chess will supplant the old-school game. For one thing, while technological vigilance is better than ever, it cant be known for sure whether your opponent on the other end of the internet is consulting with a world-class computer program to come up with their moves.
You have a camp who enjoy the online chess because they can continue to compete, Hoffpauir said. But theres another segment who just have gotten some sour taste because of cheating incidents in online tournaments. Those types of incidents definitely spoil the reputation of online play.
Hoffpauir added that live chess has an element the virtual game cant touch: The social interaction its just not the same as playing over the board.
He added, Its just a different experience over the board. When youre sweating because you just [lost] a piece, or youre in a bad position, or your Kings defense is compromised, you sweat, and your opponent can see it and feel it.
Chess is, in its own quiet, possibly weird way, a very social game, but at the U.S. Class, so much of that social quality seemed lost to the safety measures. All that was left was the game itself.
Still, the question arises: Given the risks of the coronavirus, is chess that important?
Yeah, Abate said, it is.
The players surely agreed. Virginias Jennifer Yu, 18, won the 2019 U.S. Womens Championship and played in the U.S. Class the day after finishing fourth in this years online womens event.
She wrote for Chess Life that playing in a mask made only an insignificant difference. After years of leaning on my hand, however, I was more worried about touching my face. But I broke the habit early by sitting on my hands!
The big adjustment, she wrote, was playing with three-dimensional pieces again, and simply being around so many people at once both completely commonplace happenings that had become strange very quickly.
Shelev Oberoi, 14, of Texas, came to Dulles for the chance to play stronger players than hes used to, and told WTOP that he hoped the people who were introduced to chess online will return to go to a tournament in person.
He added that the appeal was hard to explain, but its just the feeling of the board versus the screen.
And while 6-year-old Tariq Yue, of Pennsylvania, started playing online, and has played about 30 online tournaments, he was hooked on the face-to-face game in only his second over-the-board tournament.
You look at the pieces differently, Yue said. You see them differently.
Go here to read the rest:
- Veteran chess player teaches patience and strategy with Labor Day weekend tournament - WPTV.com - September 4th, 2021
- Chess federation to host tournament Oct. 3 at Ypao Beach - The Guam Daily Post - September 4th, 2021
- 100 Women Who Care NPO needs sponsors to host a chess tournament - Midrand Reporter - September 4th, 2021
- Kids run, a chess tournament and new kid space at ETHS - Knox TN Today - August 23rd, 2021
- Fiji Chess gears up for another online tournament - FBC News - August 9th, 2021
- Dobbs Ferry Chess Champion Competing in National Tournament - The Hudson Indy Westchester's Rivertowns News - - The Hudson Independent - July 25th, 2021
- Chess: Viswanathan Anand to return to over-the-board action after a year with Croatia tournament - Scroll.in - July 10th, 2021
- FIDE Candidates Tournament: 4 Winners ... - Chess - June 28th, 2021
- FIDE Candidates Tournament: 3 Winners In Final ... - Chess - June 28th, 2021
- Chess Tournaments, Tech Giants And $100,000 In Bitcoin - Bitcoin Magazine - June 28th, 2021
- New Chess Tournament Features $100K BTC Reward for the Winner - Live Bitcoin News - May 30th, 2021
- Cryptocurrency : World chess tournament will award bitcoin to its winners Explica .co - Explica - May 30th, 2021
- How 9-year-old Delhi Boy Raised Funds in Online Chess Tournament to Aid Covid Relief Efforts - Yahoo India News - May 30th, 2021
- Two grandmasters will play in the "European Parliamentary Friendship Online Chess Tournament" - Chessbase News - April 21st, 2021
- FIDE Candidates Tournament: Giri Strikes, Moves Into Second-Place Tie - Chess.com - April 21st, 2021
- Invitational chess tournament to be held in Benin for IDSDP | sportanddev.org - sportanddev.org - April 5th, 2021
- Open Air Chess Tournament at Sugar Land Town Square - 365 Things to Do in Houston - March 9th, 2021
- Back in the game: Karpov to play classical tournament in Malm - Chessbase News - March 9th, 2021
- All or nothing: How Wijk aan Zee pulled off its 'most challenging' chess tournament - ESPN - February 3rd, 2021
- Success at Satu Mare in the online national chess tournament for the age group - CampusLATELY - January 26th, 2021
- First ever Barak Valley Open Chess Tournament kickstarts in Silchar - Barak Bulletin - January 26th, 2021
- Another weekend on-line chess tournament - Sunday Observer - January 25th, 2021
- World famous Hastings chess tournament takes place this weekend - Hastings Observer - January 9th, 2021
- Rook No Further! Coral Springs Holds Open Play Chess and Tournament - Coral Springs Talk - Coral Springs Talk - January 6th, 2021
- Azeri-Jewish Chess Grandmaster Radjabov in tears after winning tournament - The Jerusalem Post - January 6th, 2021
- Beccacece and a chess tournament with the Racing kids - Inspired Traveler - December 16th, 2020
- Young Chess Stars Meet in a Winner Take All Tournament Checkmate! - The Zebra - December 9th, 2020
- Costumed players bring success for first Chess Halloween Tournament - The Madison Record - themadisonrecord.com - November 6th, 2020
- 14-year-old Mendonca wins chess tournament in Hungary - The Tribune India - October 28th, 2020
- FIDE Candidates Tournament Postponed Until Spring 2021 - Chess.com - October 17th, 2020
- How To Play In US Chess Online Rated Tournaments - Chess.com - October 9th, 2020
- CCPS hosting in-person chess tournament, limited to students in Grades 4-12 - The Southern Maryland Chronicle - October 7th, 2020
- Irshad Mohammed walks away with top spot in latest round of chess tournament - Stabroek News - October 7th, 2020
- On Chess: Returning To Over The Board Chess Tournaments - St. Louis Public Radio - October 3rd, 2020
- So Leads Saint Louis Tournament Before Blitz Games - Chess.com - September 19th, 2020
- FIDE Candidates Tournament Resumes November 1 - Chess.com - September 9th, 2020
- Forks The final of the chess value tournament ended with a historic title distribution due to a server problem - Pledge Times - September 1st, 2020
- The United States Chess Federation - Clubs & Tournaments - August 21st, 2020
- Norway Chess to be 1st over-the-board super-tournament since March - chess24 - August 19th, 2020
- Chess Tournaments Calendar: July 2020 - Chess.com - August 15th, 2020
- Fishbein, Park, Liang, and Xie win at Tournaments of State Champions - uschess.org - August 12th, 2020
- Hikaru to host Chess tournament headlined by xQc, IWillDominate - Dot Esports - August 11th, 2020
- Leon Mendonca wins on board chess tournament in Hungary - The Hindu - June 24th, 2020
- The International Tournament in Bamberg starts! - Chessbase News - June 24th, 2020
- Chess Lovers in the Costa del Sol Unite as Malaga Will Host an Online Tournament This Saturday - Euro Weekly News - June 24th, 2020