The Chess Community Fights COVID-19 With Online Tournaments

The+Chess+Community+Fights+COVID-19+With+Online+Tournaments

Jason Lu, Author

     As we face tremendous uncertainty in these times, one thing is certain: heroes of all sorts are emerging in every community, and the chess community is no different. Chess is a leisurely board game that many play with their friends. However, in these special times, online chess has boomed. Many people are now resorting to online websites to enjoy their occasional game. While many play chess online, there are still some more competitive players out there, ones that usually go to in-person chess tournaments which now no longer exist. Each one of these competitive players has ratings, and they go to these rated tournaments to try to raise their rating by beating others. The higher your rating, the better you are. While these chess players can still play casual and unrated games, they miss out on the chance to play rated games in tournaments, since such opportunities are not offered online. 

     “Why not?” you might ask. “Why can’t you just hold an online tournament, and play online rated games on a website like chess.com?”. Well, unfortunately, there are some dishonest people out there in the world, and they exist in the chess community as well. Even in actual traditional chess tournaments, where players are sitting right across from each other, there are people who attempt to cheat. Playing chess online further allows for cheating since there is no one to watch what you’re doing.

     This problem has affected nearly 3 million rated chess players from over 150 countries all around the world. These players have all lost the opportunity to compete in competitive chess tournaments, but thanks to the efforts of one man: Oskar Stober Blázquez. 

     Oskar Stober Blázquez is the tournament director of a very important chess tournament known as the Sunway Sitges International Chess Open. Many chess players from all around the globe travel to play chess in a tournament that lasts 9 entire days. However, due to COVID-19, Oskar Stober Blázquez, like all of the other countless tournament directors around the world, were forced to cancel their tournament. However, Oskar did not give up. He worked with chess.com as well as Zoom to set up an unprecedented event: the first online, classical (rated), chess tournament in history. With the help of chess.com’s anti-cheating technology as well as countless tournament directors, Oskar was able to set up the Sunway Sitges International Online Chess Open. Over 450 people around the globe attended this historic tournament. In the end, Egyptian chess grandmaster Ahmed Adly won the tournament, wrapping up this amazing event. In addition to the Sunway Sitges International Online Chess Open, there are many other efforts to improve everyone’s chess experience. If you’d like to read more about other chess organizations that are doing their part to help people, there are some links attached at the bottom of this article.

     All in all, communities all around the world are doing their best to get everyone through this crisis. In these trying times, we should all focus on how to become innovative, creative, and helpful. How can you become the next Oskar Stober Blázquez?

Here are some articles from chess.com regarding efforts to help chess players:

https://www.chess.com/news/view/2020-magnus-carlsen-invitational-chess

https://www.chess.com/article/view/european-online-chess-championship-2020