14th June: Coronavirus Update
Below is a message from Martin Simons regarding the coronavirus and local chess.
I hope you are all keeping well. It has been almost a month since the last update on the Dorset Chess Website and this update comes in two parts.
1. League Season Update
The UK Government has started to relax some of its lockdown measures and there is now increasing pressure on it to reduce the social distancing requirements which are essential before any over the board (‘OTB’) chess can be considered. As pubs, bars and restaurants will be opening ‘no earlier than 4 July’ it seems reasonable to expect, providing the daily figures continue to improve with little evidence of a second spike, that there might be a reduction in the current 2 metre social distancing requirement at the same time, or at least the UK Government may find some other innovative way to address the matter.
From our perspective we will continue to monitor not only the UK Government’s guidance but also any guidance from the English Chess Federation. Further, we need to be mindful, given almost two thirds of our local club players are over 60 and one third are over 70, that even when ‘permission is granted’ for a return to OTB chess, there will understandably be many who may prefer to wait even longer before their return. It is therefore expected, at least initially, that there could be a significant reduction in players available to play competitive OTB chess in our leagues and we may need to think about creative ways to minimise the impact of this.
However, during the lockdown period with many people stuck indoors, some may have turned to playing chess, either online or with their families, so here lies a fantastic opportunity for us to capitalise on!
To help support our clubs with regards to this and to promote local OTB chess when it does eventually return, following discussions with the two League Treasurers, Richard & Steve, and Ian, the DCCA President, we are likely to recommend that no club league fees will be charged until the 2021/22 season. We may also temporarily agree to the dropping of the reserve player model in the B&DCL to provide clubs and teams with greater flexibility to field reserves, particularly if we agree to completing this season’s fixtures. Further, we wish to look at ways to set up welcome events to attract potential new members.
A Consultation Document will be issued in the near future providing the options available to us covering the completion of this season and the start of next. However, given that we are still at an important phase of the pandemic and we do not know when OTB play may be allowed to resume, we should perhaps continue to remain patient and flexible in terms of making any immediate decision and move forward with some caution. We will also need to give Martin Clancy, our new Fixtures Secretary, a little time to reschedule this season’s fixtures, if appropriate, and/or prepare a new set of league fixtures for next season.
2. Dorset Chess Website
As already notified, from the 1st June Peter Anderson is our new Dorset Chess Webmaster. Peter and I have been looking at innovative ways to continue to keep the Dorset Chess website current, vibrant & interesting during the current period of OTB chess inactivity and, as a result, we are currently providing the following:
- ‘Chess Puzzles/Games’ twice weekly (Mondays and Thursdays) – If you have any interesting puzzles or games then please submit these to Peter (your club secretary will have his email address).
- ‘Bulletins’ once weekly (Saturdays) – If you have any interesting articles then please submit these to me or Peter. All the Bulletins & Dorset Local Chat items can be found here … https://www.dorsetchess.co.ukbulletins-and-chat/.
- A ‘Daily Quiz’ covering a wide variety of subjects including the laws of chess, local chess, national chess, international chess and ‘You are the Arbiter!’. Again if you have any good chess trivia quiz questions then please ask them to submit these to me – all interesting questions will be considered!
- Any local online chess activity, such as the local online Team Challenge organised by Martin Clancy.
Any other suggestions for website material would be greatly appreciated.
Previous Update: 15th May 2020 – Coronavirus and updated message on completing the 2019/20 League Season
Following this week’s UK Government’s various updated messages and revised guidance it is almost certain the social distancing restrictions will remain in place for several months, which would mean there will be no more competitive over the board chess until these restrictions are resolved for the safety of all players.
We will continue to monitor the current Covid-19 situation and the UK Government’s guidance, however, the June AGMs have now been postponed. We hope to issue a Consultation Document over the summer covering options on how to deal with the remaining 2019/20 fixtures.
Previous Message end March ’20
Updated message on the suspension of B&DCL & DCCA league and cup fixtures and other important & exciting local chess announcements in response to the Coronavirus outbreak
We hope you are all keeping well and carefully protecting yourselves and your loved ones during this very challenging and difficult time.
This is an updated message to the one posted on the 17th March.
It was only a fortnight ago that we were all playing competitive ‘over the board’ chess (i.e. Dorset Rapidplay) and just after that, following UK Government guidelines, we suspended all local league fixtures as part of its national lockdown. As we all know, so much has changed in the last fortnight, both in terms of how the virus is rapidly spreading and the extra tighter measures the UK Government has introduced.
B&DCL & DCCA Fixtures
Our top priority will continue to be that local league and cup chess matches will only resume when it is safe to do so in accordance with UK Government guidelines and following consultation with our local clubs.
The UK Coronavirus position, as expected, is now accelerating & worsening, and the UK Government suggests it will continue this way for a number of weeks, maybe many months to come.
Because of the current unprecedented situation we find ourselves in, which is so fluid yet uncertain, we do not plan to make any further announcement on the possible continuation of B&DCL/DCCA league and cup matches for the next month or so, at the earliest.
There are a number of options that have already been suggested (many thanks to all those who have contacted us) but we feel it is best to wait until the end of April when hopefully the UK position is a little clearer and, if so, a review can then take place to reflect this which will incorporate consultations with all local clubs in May. To expand on this, the ‘clearer UK position’ may simply be that, due to continued social distancing restrictions, there will be no local chess fixtures or meetings until say September or October at the earliest (which now seems likely). We would then in May need to initially consult on how to complete or finalise the current 2019/20 chess season and when to hold AGMs etc. If the position remains ‘unclear’ at the end of April we may then wish to wait until the end of May and delay our consultation period with the local clubs until June but probably no later.
Impending Retirement and Transfer of Duties
As many of you will know, Mike Jay will be sadly retiring as the B&DCL/DCCA League Controller and Webmaster at the end of May after many years of excellent, devoted and much appreciated service. As a result of this, we have been working very hard over the last few months to replace the irreplaceable and we are pleased to announce that Peter Anderson and Martin Clancy have kindly agreed to help with the webmaster duties and the compiling of future fixtures respectively. This will officially come into effect from the 1st June and we hope there will be a seamless transition. Please note that Peter has already worked wonders developing a very impressive and informative ‘Junior Chess’ section on the Dorset Chess website. Welcome aboard Peter and Martin, we really do appreciate your full support. We also do hope Mike will attend our AGMs, whenever these might be, to deliver his informative reports for one final time and to allow us to provide our sincere thanks to him.
As it is now extremely unlikely, perhaps even impossible that this season’s league fixtures will be resumed during Mike’s remaining tenure, if you have any questions or comments then can you please direct them to either Ian Clark (for DCCA matters) or me (for B&DCL matters) – our contact details can be found here https://www.dorsetchess.co.ukcaptains-page/. We are sure Mike will still be interested so please feel free to copy him in.
Online Chess Tournament Initiative
Whilst we are in lockdown please do not hesitate to take advantage of the excellent Ringwood Chess Club initiative to promote online tournament chess for all our local players. The link to join this free online club can be found here https://www.ringwoodchessclub.org.uk/internet-club-and-open-nights/. There are already blitz tournaments set up for four days a week and we are very much indebted to Martin Clancy’s hard work in setting all this up and in such a short space in time.
Online Junior Chess Initiative
Not to be left out, for all juniors in the local area, Andy Baskett (Ringwood Chess Club) has already set up a free online Ringwood Junior Chess Club on the excellent https://www.chesskid.com/ website and he is pleased to report this has already attracted more than 10 junior members. He has now very kindly offered to team up with Nikki Forster, our Junior Chess Coordinator, to see if there is sufficient interest to set up other free online junior chess clubs within the local area and possibly to arrange online chess matches between the various local library junior chess club teams. Nikki and I have been shown (by conference call) Andy’s ambitious plans. The animations and opportunities for our juniors are very interactive and we feel this is a massive game changer in the junior chess world so well done to Andy, this is brilliant news and many thanks to him for all his enthusiastic, creative, hard work!
Please contact Andy via the following link https://forms.gle/SBz3J5NkRWwbztpJ9 or email Nikki (details on the ‘Junior Chess’ page https://www.dorsetchess.co.ukjunior-chess/) if you are interested in finding out more information on how this might work and particularly if you wish for your child to join this new exciting online club. More details will hopefully be posted soon on the ‘Junior Chess’ landing page.
If you and/or your clubs have any other great initiatives that would benefit the local chess organisations during the lockdown period then please do let Ian or me know, we would greatly welcome them.
Looking after our Chess Club Members
We would politely ask you to carefully think about all your club members during this difficult time, especially those who might be a little vulnerable and may appreciate some additional support, either by a telephone chat or perhaps with some shopping. Southbourne Chess Club has started introducing a ‘buddy’ system. As many landline and mobile phone networks offer packages with free unlimited minutes, there could also be an opportunity to play a telephone chess match for those chess club members who do not have access to playing chess online.
When many other sports and activities have had to stop completely, it is reassuring to know there are so many alternative ways and means for chess to continue and flourish in the current world of uncertainty!
Martin Simons – B&DCL Chairman
30 March 2020