Jamaica Chess Federation (JCF) President, Peter Myers, says they will be embracing the online nature of the sport, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to present challenges for the resumption of face-to-face chess tournaments locally.
Myers told The Gleaner that because schools are scheduled to resume online, more students will be able to engage in chess matches, as it will be less costly, and they will not have to think about travelling expenses.
“What we’re definitely going to be doing is a schools’ tournament,” he said. “Normally, we would have the National Schools’ Chess Championship starting around the end of October, and given the current situation regarding the various rules and protocols, we are planning to take it online. It is going to be an issue as some schools might not be able to participate, but what we can do is possibly assist some of those schools.
“We have started the process, and we are also waiting to see what the Government is saying regarding the opening of schools to determine how to proceed. As everybody knows, most sports are down now, and they can’t get out and get active. We can keep active by playing online, so this will definitely be a major thing for us going forward.”
Myers said that the Harold Chang Open, the Jamaica Open, and the Frederick Cameron Open Chess Tournaments are events that the JCF is planning to host virtually this year.
Queen’s Preparatory School coach Russell Porter said despite chess being forced to go online because of the pandemic, he has seen major improvements in the skills of the players.
“The conventional way we play, which is the long game, we find that this version has been affected because people are not playing it at this time,” Porter said. “When the pandemic just started, we were playing a lot more chess because instead of waiting until the weekends when we would normally have our tournaments, and playing in person, we would just go online and play every day because there was no work for some, and no school. In terms of online events, it really took off.
“Online events are a bit different though, because they are usually played at a much faster time limit, so it is not like the in-person chess where it is slow. Persons started to practise more on their speed chess, and we found that they were getting better at it. Speed chess complements conventional chess, and it also allows players to be more intuitive, as there is no time to calculate, and it forces you to work hard on your tactics and your opening, which is the starting phase of the game.”
Porter said he is hoping that the JCF will organise more virtual events this year, as there have not been a lot of chess tournaments locally since the pandemic.