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Do we still need human contact in Chess?

Chess is an old game, a very old game. It dates back thousands of years and has developed in different ways in different parts of the world. Western chess is the standard format we recognize and the same rules and conventions have been in place for generations.

It has always had a reputation as a quiet, slow game plqyed by quiet people.

Classical games can last 5 or 6 hours at the highest level. More usually at club level after 2 or 3 hours there is a result, either 1-0, 0-1 or 0.5-0.5. You can get lost in a game of chess and really appreciate its beauty, taking time to weigh-up positions and evaluate possible moves.

Northenden Chess Club has spent a number of years playing in the Manchester Chess League and in the Stockport Chess League. Typically the time control has been about 90 mins per player.

Increments have helped to create more exciting endgames while not usually pushing a live game towards infinity.

Even before Covid put an end to over the board matches chess had a notable presence on the internet.

However, Covid arrived and forced the chess community to embrace online play like it had never done before. The modern urge for instant gratification has cheered the rise in popularity of rapid and blitz events and, thanks in no small part to the series The Queen's Gambit, chess has been inundated by untold hundreds of thousands of people worldwide who wish to learn the game or take up once again a pastime they once enjoyed.

There is no doubt that the internet was made for chess. Cheating does occur, like in any sport, and is one reason why faster time controls are preferred online. Northenden Chess Club has been a willing participant in the online chess boom and we are delighted the MCF online chess league is up and running and doing well. A big thanks to David Hardy and all involved.

Members of NCC embrace online chess to a greater of lesser degree. Some love the fast game and thrive on the adrenelin rush, some have difficulty with the technology itslelf, others do not like fast games and play these games more under sufferance than through choice. I think we all miss a physical board and pieces.

One thing remains universal, there is a common feeling that, while we hope online chess continues to grow and gets even better, and it is great to see so many grandmasters play, we all crave a return to playing face to face, over the board, eye to eye. The camaraderie is lacking, we are not visiting other clubs to say hello and lock horns. Banter and stories and good, old-fashioned social interaction are so sadly lacking.

We are counting the days to a return to classical OTB chess. Maybe Easter, maybe Summer. It will return and Northenden Chess Club will be more than ready for it. Humans need one another and so does chess.

Take care everyone and get playing.


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