On Friday 23 July, nine other boys and I went online to participate in the first Online Interschool Chess event of the year. The tournament was originally going to be our first face-to-face tournament for over twelve months. We were looking forward to seeing fellow players and opponents in person. At the last minute this was cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions, but we were fortunate that Chess Victoria, who were overseeing the tournament, were able to reinstate it as an online tournament. Some of our players were new to playing online so this was a good event to get used to this different way of playing.
The day kicked off with a welcoming over a Zoom call, and an explanation of how the day would operate for those who didn’t know – we would play seven matches against people from other schools and from all around Australia, each round playing someone doing about as well as us at that point. The games took place on the chess.com, using a virtual board that we dragged pieces over to make our moves.
We kept up with each other during the day over our own zoom meeting, sending positive energy as we celebrated our wins and not getting caught up over the losses. The seven games went by incredibly quickly, partly because of a shorter game timer than usual and partly because each new set of pairings could be generated and distributed very quickly due the digital communication and we were automatically connected to our next game, as opposed to being in a large hall where we would have to read pairings from printed lists, that were created after the final match in each round, and then locate our table.
At the end of the day, we ended up being the 4th place school with a counted score of 16 points between our top four players, although the effort across the team was significant as everything was much harder, both with the new conditions and the high ranking of most players. Unfortunately, this result did not mean that we have automatically qualified a team for the Victorian Secondary School State championships, but it is the first tournament of the year and there are more to come.
The matched for the day was completed about 1pm and after it was over, we all went to the rest of our classes, but we’d all had a great time and recaptured some sense of normalcy during lockdown.
A massive thank you to Ms Powling for organising our place in the competition and providing us with resources to continue to practice chess while Chess Club cannot meet.
If you want to participate in chess this year, there will be more competitions later in the year. Websites such as chess.com and lichess.org are available 24/7 for you to play against other people or challenge your friends to help you improve your skills.