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A new reality for local sports

How has chess, and local players, adapted to the pandemic? Since the start of the pandemic, chess on the West Coast moved to online platforms. We had our first annual AGM in 2020 and elected a new executive. All our chess tournaments were played online, and even though this was challenging due to lack of resources we kept going and is now firmly established on online chess platforms and the West Coast players participates in regional, provincial, national and even International chess tournaments. Just to mention some of our younger players who have really excelled on the online arena is Caden Wilson, Graca Meyer, Andrea Lewaks Anne Belle Ellman, Mea van Zyl, Legene Maletta, Shakir Kariem, and Shaundre Lewaks. There are many more younger participants who can really get far on the online arena, and so we would like to appeal to the public and potential sponsors to assist our players by sponsoring data, a tablet/smartphone or laptop/computer even if it is second-hand and in working condition one or other of our players would be able to benefit from it.

Have there been benefits to taking chess online? Taking chess online due to the pandemic forced our players and officials to upscale themselves in terms of learning how to best utilise online platforms, not only to play chess but also to coach and learn chess online. In other words, the overall skills of players and officials have improved dramatically.

Have any specific plans been made to the chess year for 2021? As I mentioned earlier, we are planning to do some Over The Board (OTB) events this year which will be scaled down. Watch this space. Tournaments we are considering are elite tournaments, like the West Coast Closed, Women’s Day tournament, Basil Ellman invitational and a simultaneous chess tournament, that is where one player takes on 10 players . . . each event within the boundaries of Level 3 lockdown and adhering to Covid-19 lockdown principles.

What does the future of chess look like locally if the national lockdown is to continue for the majority of the year? This is a question that has been addressed up to International level and our national body FIDE already indicated that the online tournaments will see players getting a (hybrid) rating, which in chess means you can qualify to become a world class player to participate in elite international events. At national level the same options are on the cards, and on provincial level some of these proposals are already being implemented. It is with this in mind that the West Coast also plans to have online tournaments rated, doing small-scale OTB, bearing in mind that most of the world is currently being vaccinated and feeling positive that chess will soon open up its doors for OTB and online chess will be something of the past, appreciated but not forgotten.

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