Socially Responsible Chess

*Note:  this article was written while London was in Tier 2*

We live in a time where not since the Great Wars has chess been affected so, life is precious, though losing the things we love that make us human has been just as damaging to many.

With the release of Queens Gambit on Netflix, chess has never been so popular – though for many club players it has been a stab in the heart. There is so much potential, though even living in a digital age (where Hammersmith continues to run online tournaments, coaching sessions, puzzle groups etc.), with the regular clubhouse closed it is not quite the same as over the board chess – staring into your opponents eyes, watching them sweat as your pieces slowly surround their King, waiting for the time to strike.

Looking over the channel to the European mainland, where over the board chess was once again beginning, created much discussion on how we could play across the board again. We didn’t want to break any of the Covid rules where other table sports such as Dominos have seen players fined: (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-55503852).

On top of this, we didn’t want to risk the health of our members either. Therefore, as London was in Tier 2 at the time – and armed with masks, gloves and hand sanitiser – we descended upon the Prince of Wales Townhouse – a newly-refurbished pub in Hammersmith which had an amazing heated outdoor area, ideally suited to a meetup. Adhering to the regulations, we all had a substantial meal and sat on a table of six, where we ensured extra precautions were taken for any members who felt more uneasy.

It was a fabulous evening of interaction and our beloved pieces were dusted off to once again brave the board. From old friends who we have not seen in many months, to new members who we have only met in a digital setting prior, the spark was alive again in Hammersmith – if only for a moment.

As we go into another lockdown the mighty Hammers are getting ready for 2021! We will play again, and it will be brilliant. In the meantime, join our online community and warm up for the action to come.

I will leave you with this ‘Hand & Brain‘ position which was played between some new club members, and some ‘soon-to-be‘ Hammers. White to play and draw.

(Note: Hand & Brain is a 2v2 match where one player on the team says which piece is to be moved, and the other player has to make the move with that piece without conferring! e.g. You say ‘pawn’, then your partner can move any pawn anywhere they want).

Happy chessing!

Chris Skulte

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