Chess During Lockdown

Article by Phil Morgan

Our clubs venues closed their doors over 3 months ago. League play in Notts. ceased abruptly on 16 March, with no date for resumption. Over The Board play has stopped for now. Challenges offer opportunities. This has been far from a fallow period for chess.

There has been a surge in on-line play at all levels. At the very highest level of the game, Super G.M.s have competed on-line from their homes. The recent Clutch Chess International produced a gripping final between the world’s top 2 players, which we could all view. It offered much more drama and excitement than the same players’ World Championship match.

In the U.K. the 4NCL has held over 10 consecutive weeks the first 4NCL On-line Chess League. 173 teams took part. I played for Ashfield Anonymous who had teams in Division 2 and Division 4. Nottingham University fielded teams in Division 2 and Division 5. To my surprise, I found on-line team play much more stressful than OTB play. I know some players are reluctant to play in on-line chess , because of the possibilities for cheating. The games I played in and viewed were characterised by and decided by the usual human errors.

Several local players are playing in friendly on-line tournaments during the lock-down. I’m very grateful to Dylan Meyer, of Rolls-Royce, Derby who has organised such play 3 times a week throughout this time. ( For details, see Derbyshire Chess Association.)

Deprived of other pastimes, I’ve also been glad to be involved in Correspondence play. New tournaments have been staged to compensate for the absence of OTB play.

With schedules to fill, the BBC has rediscovered chess. The film ‘Pawn Sacrifice’ based on the life of Bobby Fischer has recently been shown on BBC 2 and BBC4 has shown a repeat of a 2010 programme, ‘How To Win at Chess’. Each of these may still be available on I-Player.

OTB chess has largely ceased, but it has become an extraordinary rich period for those who are willing to embrace, take part and view other forms of the game, not least because of the extra time we’ve had on our hands to do this.