The COVID-19 Pandemic has changed the dynamics of most of our industries today. It has impacted economies all across the world. In addition to that, it has taken a toll on Chess with the way tournaments are being conducted. With the ongoing situation, it is impossible to estimate the losses to the world of chess at this stage. The only thing that can be ascertained is that, there seem to be permanent reforms going on within the worldwide chess community. To be able to cope with this, players must adapt to learn how to play chess during a pandemic.
To examine the effect of this pandemic, we can summarize the chess playing community into 4 categories.
Professional Chess Players
Here we are referring to professional players as those who are able to financially sustain themselves through the sport of Chess. These are players who either play Chess for a living, and (or) are imparting knowledge to the chess community through videos, tutorials and online classes.
Even in this category, there are players of two kinds. The Chess elites, Magnus Carlsen, Viswanathan Anand just to name a few form the first category. They are able to sustain the damages to the economy without much hassle. This is because, these players usually have access to an abundance of resources. They would not suffer any more than a working professional in the same paygrade from any other industry.
Currently, Viswanathan Anand is in Germany. He had flown there to take part in a bundesliga tournament on behalf of his team OSG Baden-Baden. Through a video on twitter, he has urged everyone to maintain social distancing in these difficult times. He is unable to fly back to India to re-unite with his family due to the travel restrictions in place.
Check out our article on Viswanathan Anand below:
Some of these elite players have been involved in efforts to raise funds to battle COVID-19 through chess tournaments. They have been the anchors for those wishing to play chess during a pandemic. Check out our link below to look at one such example from the state of Kerala.
The second category of players comprises of those, that are barely making ends meet. We have learned that unless you are a top player, or get good sponsors, it is quite difficult to manage playing chess for a living. The competition is very high and there are very few jobs. These are the players that have suffered the most from the COVID-19 crisis.
Club Chess Players
Chess clubs have been a vital resource for most of the grandmasters of chess today. India’s own, Viswanathan Anand talks about the role that the Tal Chess Club in Chennai played in his game. It was here that he learned the importance of high-speed tactics and quick thinking.
For people starting to pick up chess professionally, this is going to be a very difficult time. The atmosphere that is seen in these chess clubs is totally different from an online chess room. While playing chess online seems to be a lot more functional, for players just starting out, the lack of ‘feel’ makes them averse to these online platforms. There have been many players performing poorly online because of this lack of ‘feel’.
One aspect of this is the psyche of the opponent. Being able to successfully predict your opponents future moves is an essential part of a winning strategy. Because most tournaments take place in person, it is easier for players to read their opponent. With the game being shifted online, it takes away a crucial aspect. While the transition has been difficult, until a cure emerges all chess players will have to learn to play chess during a pandemic.
Casual Chess Players
The lockdown enforced in many parts of the world has forced everybody not involved in essential services to stay indoors. This has given people ample time to develop an old hobby or pick up a new one. To be able to pick up chess as a hobby is very advantageous. Not only does this promote thinking along new lines and ideas, but it teaches discipline and strategy. As a part of our Indian heritage, shatranj has been going around the world since the 10th century. It is high time we take an active interest in it and people have!
There has been a surprising increase in the traffic on these online chess platforms that allow people to play with their friends or loved ones from anywhere in the world. They can take part in multiple tournaments of different kinds of chess games. It is a great hobby to inculcate and great one to do so now!
Here are some of the most popular platforms that support online chess: