It has been over a year since there was real action on the board in Lesotho. Because of the pandemic, chess had moved from chess halls to algorithms and programming languages with players literally glued on to their hand held smart phone devices’ screens.
The emphasis of social distance in sports as well as the stringent rules that followed sport re-opening made sure that boards were folded and kept in bags while mobile data wells were cleaned dry.
Most enthusiasts and players were forced to use chess applications to compete. Lichess and Chess.com became day-time burial grounds for rookies and novices and hunting ground for masters and mistresses of the game.
The coveted installment of chess Olympiad that was scheduled for Khanty Mansiysk in Russia 2020 was replaced by an online version.
This was all in the name of keeping safe- weathering the storm until board action returns.
The past week saw Lesotho chess community receive green light to commence with physical games and was followed by an announcement that a two-day FIDE rated chess winter challenge will be happening in the coming weekend. Live chess is finally back, online chess will be relegated to practice and learning.
Putting online chess pound to pound with physical live chess always gets the former on the losing side.
There are however fans of the former who argue that online chess opens-up the world and gives players a chance to challenge stronger players which would practically be impossible to challenge physically because of financial constraints.
Why Playing chess physically will always win:
- Emotional connection
The emotional bit of competitive sports allows sports to create some sense of achievement to the sport people as well as fans. The pain of losing and the joy of winning gives sports much needed competitiveness. Being physically present and being able to look at the reaction of the opponents when playing is priceless. Both spectators and players are able to be emotionally connected to the games.
- Body Language Signal
When playing, players tend to give their next moves away by their bodily displays. One does not need a degree in mind reading in order to pick up an excitement of a mate in 5 or a quick queen trap on the “f” file. Physical chess gives that, sometimes one can predict the next move of an opponent by assessing their emotions and body languages.
Body language can help ascertain the energy levels of an opponent, frustrations and joys which can be used to get a positive result in a game.
Online games are the biggest deniers of this.
- Sharpens Concentration skills
By its nature, chess forces concentration on all players. Compared to online chess, physical chess demands 150% concentration levels as the playing environment is infested with some multiple distractions.
I have come across someone’s excuse of missing a win as “…a loud screeching of a chair that the arbiter made when he was going to the loo to relief himself…”.
Playing halls have a lot of movement, actions and sounds ranging from tapping of clocks to the screeching of chairs when standing. Some players are over elaborate capturers – they make sure pieces collide when capturing to produce the loudest/sharpest of sounds.
All this can be detrimental to the concentration levels in a game. Physical chess therefore sharpens the concentration skills because of increase in concentration demands.
- A win hits different
Nothing beats the thrill of a physical checkmate- from making the final move, to recording it, to having a player sign on a scoresheet and agreeing that he or she has lost the game. The walk from a won table ranks in the top ten of the universal victory walks lists.
Clean your chess sets, remove all dust and dust mites and get some batteries for your chess clocks. Physicals chess is back. Use online platforms for practice and analysis.