The Covid-19 Chess Diaries Pt.II – My Son, Chess, and Me

A Diary from the Lockdown Vault

13th March – We were a bit worried when the school started to warn us that it may close any day, given the situation. They even sent helpful guides of how to login to Microsoft Teams – not very useful for me, a tech phobe, but Kumar seemed fine with this.

16th March – I was working away in a corner of the London Library when the message flashed: “the School will close immediately for the duration… please pickup your son from school.”. I leave the accumulated books on the table and hurry to the school, where parents have started to gather. Westminster is closing even before Boris could get to it…

18th March – All schools closed in England, but classes for a few hours in the morning will continue for the next week… until Easter holidays kick in.

19th-20th March – The first few days, new WhatsApp groups are formed between parents; funny videos are circulating amongst all of us.

The social distancing has started. Kumar thinks this is an early Easter Holiday – he’s playing cricket with himself in our shared office space, paper flying all around. London Library closed; Chatham House closed; I can’t escape!!

21st – 22nd March – Sunny weekend, someone sends a photo of crowds in the parks, but we are following strict social distancing. Kumar’s mum is from Barcelona and terrible news from Spain makes us ultra-cautious.

And it’s not funny any more. Local Carluccio’s at South Ken closes down – so many memories of happy lunches here on Sundays.

Kumar is getting stir-crazy – how long can one play Monopoly? Kumar plays FIFA against his friend online; he hasn’t played real chess in 6 months (too much homework, and a sudden passion for squash and tennis at weekends), but decided to give it a go on blitz, but it seemed the Chinese side might have gone slow, not many connections.

24th March – I remember that there is Junior Hour online at Hammersmith Chess Club with Christof! Kumar eager to join. His interest in chess has revived! After piano on iPad, classes on Microsoft Teams, we now have another platform: Zoom for Christof! Kumar has a great time – speaking to real people, rather than anonymous players on

Christof mentions the Hammersmith Training website, and that many more sessions are being setup by Jim. Well, Jim and Paul McKeown were the very first people that Kumar ever played with when he started chess at Fulham 4 years back. My earlier Indian Chess with Kumar doesn’t count – no castling, no en-passant, no stale-mate, no double-move by pawns in first move…

26th March – Jim’s session well attended – the More Gambit against the Sicilian.

Kumar is totally hooked on the Chess sessions. He has done another one with Christof on young Carlsen, training with Jim, a couple of online Simuls, and booked for more on Sunday and planning to play for Tony (another of his former coaches) against a German Juniors Team – he will be busy the next few weeks! His interest in chess has come back, and I can go back to my books!

Thank you Hammer Online!!


With thank to Kumar’s father, Lokhi, for the brilliant writeup! If you’d like to share your story of the lockdown, drop us an email:

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