Now we know regular football has a problem moving online. Most active, physical sports do.
Not so chess.
Chess has always had an online presence, and the terrible situation, isolation and social distancing occasioned by Covid-19 has only served to boost its online popularity, and millions of players are improving their game and having fun by taking advantage of what online chess has to offer.
At Northenden Chess Club we are no slouches and seeing that the surf was up we grabbed our boards and swam out to ride those online waves.
...and it all started with a stroke of good fortune. Many months earlier we had played in the 2020 Chess Tournament organised by Peter Hornsby and at the start of the lockdown he sent me an email to see if Northenden Chess Club (NCC) would be interested in joining a similar tournament but moved online. We jumped at the chance and we thank him for thinking of us.
This time it would be bigger and better. He had great help in the setting up of an online results system by Aloysius Lip, from Oxford, and clubs from all over the world flocked to the banner. Teams from the USA, from Africa, Europe, South and Central America, and from everywhere else as well as the customary universities of Great Britain....the list would have been endless but for the limit of 100 teams. We feel fortunate to be included in their number.
Stage one went quite well. We are nowhere near the best but we fight hard and can hold our own against quite a few teams. If we finish the final stage at around about the 60-70 mark I will be very happy. It is very possible. We will see,
Matches are played on chess.com and are 10/5 in teams, 2 games each player, white and black. Peter Hornsby and Aloysius Lip have done an extraordinary job and the clubs from around the world are playing a chess and building up friendships that, in normal circumstances, would never have happened.
Galvanised by this sally into internet chess territory we decided to make camp and set up our club on Lichess.org as well as on chess,com.
Ben Imrye. Eddie Hunt and Liam Lougheed set up and began to organize the Lichess arm of the Club before I took it over, and Jamie Thompson did a great job of establishing us on chess.com and setting up facebook and instagram accounts for NCC.
...and then there was the next task. We needed a logo. Just like Coca-Cola or Johnny Walker we needed a label which would be memorable and kind to the eye, We opened it up to any artists among us and a big thank you to Garry Jackson who sent us this great idea we are planning to use in the near future.
Jamie went to work and produced several other ideas and...
..those are just two.
We all had a vote via whats app and there was one clear winner.
We all like it. It has a simplicity about it, and it is strong and warm at the same time. Brilliant. It will be enhanced slightly in the future, Watch this space.
So we play on chess.com and on Lichess.org
Our chess.com matches and performances for 2020 Chess are analysed most professionally on that excellent website of Aloysius Lip's own design at https://results.scorchapp.co.uk/
It is a great achievement.
On Lichess.org we play team matches against other Manchester clubs. We have played East Cheshire and won a very close match against them.
We have plans as I write to play against Marple and Stockport, Things are moving fast and we are approaching high tide!
So we have a few irons in a few fires and are enjoying our online games.
Maybe "enjoy" is not the right word.
We all miss OTB chess and it is taking some of us longer than others to become confident with online playing.
Nevertheless, we are pushing ahead and tonight we held our first inner club arena tournament on Lichess.org.
It was a great success. 15min games, 2 hour event duration.
It brought us all together for the first time since the start of the lockdown and it felt good.
Congratulations to Steve Kelly in 1st place, and to Jim Morris and Eddie Hunt in 2nd and 3rd places respectively.
When The Covid crisis has finally abated and we get back to playing OTB I am sure we will continue to play online albeit not to the extent we are doing now.
For a lot of sports the present situation is proving very difficult or catastrophic and so many people have lost their lives or their jobs,
So many people have lost friends and family members.
The situation is really bad.
It is good to have something to do to free you from all of that worry and sadness if only for an hour or two a day.
Chess is no cure, but for a chess player it is a healing balm.
Waves of difficulties will keep coming year after year for all sorts of reasons, and we will always have our chess boards and will stride out to meet those waves head on, quietly and thinking.
There's bad in this world and chess is good
and we are Northenden Chess Club. (it rhymes)
Alex I Benner