Bulletin No.37 – Ringwood Online Lockdown Tournaments

When covid-19 disrupted face-to-face play, Martin Clancy of Ringwood Chess Club quickly organised online tournaments and team battles open to all local players that have continued to the present day.  In this bulletin Martin reflects upon these events.

At the end we give a win each from some of the regulars at these tournaments: John Belinger, Jon Catchpole, Rob Davenport, Jamie Doyle,  Robert Halse, Barry Jolly, Peter Manning, Ken Smith, and last but not least Dan and Richard Ursell.

Getting Started

It was a shock to discover that I had volunteered to provide online chess options for the area for the period of the pandemic. I had run a blitz tournament a few weeks before where with Andy Baskett’s help the pairings and the moves from the top board were broadcast live. I can only offer that as reason for my uncharacteristic boldness!

Once I had volunteered there was little doubt in my mind on picking which platform – lichess. I have used it for a while now and it has a very straightforward interface, a nice atmosphere and an emphasis on playing. It is also completely free and doesn’t have any annoying advertising.

Martin Clancy

Individual Tournaments

At the start I felt a need to keep the Ringwood club separate from the events for “friends” of Ringwood.  So I ran the Ringwood club night on Mondays from 7:30 pm with an hour of variant chess followed by an hour of blitz.

Wednesdays it was an open evening for all local players with a themed opening for the first hour followed by an hour of blitz. Within a few weeks I had added two open afternoon sessions of 5 minute + 3 second blitz on Friday and Saturday.

After a couple of months of running tournaments 4 days a week it became clear that Monday nights and Friday afternoon were struggling with low attendances. The issue with Monday was easily resolved by opening it up to all local players, over 60 of who had registered for the open sessions. The Friday session was stopped.

Over the months we have tried different time controls and the Swiss tournament format to mix things up. However, Arena seems to be a better fit to our group than Swiss, perhaps because the time period is fixed. People also tend to join in at the last minute on the internet compared to over-the board chess events which again favours Arena. Finally, the ability to “double score” and use the berserk mode add to the fun/not too serious nature of the Arena format.

The standard chess sessions have proven more popular than the variants and themed openings, though each of those has a dedicated following, with some players enjoying the variety and challenge that they provide. They are well worth a try to see if you like them.

Team Battles

The biggest success has been the team battles. They started as a Thursday night special but are now run every second Monday replacing the Variant/Blitz evening that night. Turnout has been excellent at 30+ for each battle and there is appropriate friendly rivalry over who wins. The current teams taking part are shown below:

The results and turnout at the battles to date are shown in the table below.

DateParticipantsWinnersWinners Score
04-Jun-2034Poole Chess Club57
29-Jun-2059Poole Chess Club87
27-Jul-2041Southbourne Psychos74
17-Aug-2030Ringwood Arena Team54
31-Aug-2024Southbourne Psychos59
14-Sep-2026Southbourne Psychos57
28-Sep-2021Poole Chess Club69
12-Oct-2032Poole Chess Club55
26-Oct-2035Southbourne Psychos74
09-Nov-2034Poole Chess Club95
23-Nov-2029Poole Chess Club52

Looking Forward

So far there have been over 120 events and over 4000 games played, and I hope they have provided a good chess outlet in these strange times.

If you have not yet played in one of our events, why not give them a try to see if you like them?  They are very sociable (you can chat as you play), great fun, and allegedly online chess is good for mental health (though it doesn’t always seem that way!). It is very easy to join in and there is a guide for newcomers.

I will continue to run these events at least until normal chess resumes. If interest in them persists after the return of over the board chess I will happily continue to run them. I am open to any changes that people suggest from regular events to one-off Xmas specials. However, I think they are a success because they are low-key, laid back and focussed on our local community. That needs to be borne in mind when considering changes.

Selected Games

As promised a selection of wins by 10 of the regulars at Martin’s online events, with apologies to the other regulars we have missed out.

John Belinger

John plays near perfect chess in a notoriously sharp line.

Jon Catchpole

Jon shows how to calmly defend against threats and conduct an attack of his own in style.

Rob Davenport

Rob plays the dangerous Blackmar-Diemer Gambit and quickly obtains a winning position.

Jamie Doyle

From a level opening Jamie, the Dorset junior champion, gains an advantage in the middlegame and exploits it with the excellent move 20.f4!

Robert Halse

Here is a game from the very first Ringwood online tournament.  In the razor sharp Sozin Black plays an inaccurate 9th move and Robert wastes no time in getting stuck in to produce a very pretty miniature.  Games like these are what make Fischer’s favourite so attractive.

Barry Jolly

Barry defends well against the Stafford Gambit and then converts methodically in the endgame.

Peter Manning

From a sharp middlegame a seemingly placid endgame is reached in which Peter finds an interesting tactical idea to harass the black rook.

Ken Smith

From a set opening position from a thematic tournament Ken wins in convincing style, keeping control of a game that could easily have gone astray.

Dan Ursell

Dan wins a nice game against a strong opponent with an odd hiccup along the way.

Richard Ursell

With two minor pieces for a rook, Richard finds a really nice move to force the queens off and simplify his path to victory.


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