Coronavirus Update – Completing the 2019/20 season – Please have your say

Coronavirus Update – Completing the 2019/20 season – Please have your say

As indicated on the previous update message in mid June, please find below a detailed Consultation Document from Martin Simons providing the options available to us regarding the completion of this season and the start of next. The document also explains the difficulties and challenges we are likely to face when we return to playing competitive over-the-board (OTB) chess together with any additional safeguards we may need to introduce.

We welcome feedback especially if there is a silver bullet option that may have been missed and there is a feedback box at the bottom of this page for comments to be supplied, together with some helpful questions and answers. The feedback will be shared here as part of the consultation process.

This continues to be a worrying time for all of us and any prolonged time spent away from playing OTB chess is likely to mean a dropout of players and a decline in club memberships. However, the safety and welfare of our players must be our top priority.

It is expected that the next update will be provided at the latest by the end of August depending on feedback.

Subsequent to the issue of the Consultation Document below, the ECF has issued an update on Chess Clubs and COVID-19 which explains the risk assessments it recommends that need to be undertaken by those clubs that are thinking of re-opening (regardless of whether the leagues are in operation).

Consultation Document

Coronavirus Update – Outstanding 2019/20 B&DCL and DCCA League Fixtures

Background

As mentioned on previous Coronavirus updates, this Consultation Document has been produced to provide a discussion on the options available to us on how to deal with the current 2019/20 season. This is not a formal decision making document as these decisions would require B&DCL/DCCA approval.

The latest UK Government announcement (23rd June) indicates that, from the 4th July, the social distancing restrictions will be eased with caution from ‘two metres’ to ‘one metre plus’ in some business and social environmental settings. This might suggest we are close to a possible return to playing competitive over the board (OTB) chess in the next few months. However, we have already seen in the tennis world how the virus can spread again by returning too soon. We also have to be mindful of the country’s genuine concern around a possible second virus wave which Bournemouth may be particularly vulnerable to over the summer months as it attracts many UK visitors to its town and surrounding areas.

Further, research suggests that nearly two thirds of B&DCL/DCCA players are over the age of 60 and one third are over 70. This highlights that many of our members or their families might be in the vulnerable ‘at risk’ category and reflects the difficult position we are in.

To remain safe, a return soon to local OTB competitive league chess may therefore need to be viewed with some caution and care.

Guidance may also need to be sought, not only from the UK Government but also from the English Chess Federation (ECF) as to when it is safe for us to return.

 

Practical Considerations

Even if some kind of local OTB competitive chess is permitted there are still a few other important factors to take into account. These include the following:

  • Landlords of playing venues may have their own strict rules & restrictions.
  • There could be restrictions in the total number of chess players and/or time spent in an enclosed room, also the risks of playing ‘face to face’ and the joint touching of pieces & clocks should be considered.

When we do return we need to be mindful that some chess players, due to their own personal or family’s circumstances, may not wish to return to playing chess immediately. This could cause problems with team selections. We may therefore need to consider relaxing the reserve player rule (B&DCL Rule No.3) and those nominated for each team to accommodate a reduced number of players returning.

The following measures may be difficult and impractical to implement, but in accordance with any future UK Government and ECF guidance, they may also need to considered:

  • How all clubs and players are able to observe the one metre plus social distancing rule.
  • Whether playing face to face (i.e. sitting directly opposite) is appropriate or if there is some alternative.
  • How to keep all the chess equipment clean and to prevent any cross contamination amongst players.

This Consultation Document is primarily designed to raise awareness of the above matters which we may face when returning to playing chess and to ask for initial feedback on the options available to us.

 

Current Status of the 2019/20 League Season

Currently, all teams have between 2 to 4 remaining 2019/20 fixtures which are summarised as follows:

B&DCL

  • Division One – 8 matches played, 2 matches remaining.
  • Division Two – 7 or 8 matches played, 2 to 3 matches remaining.
  • Division Three – 7 matches played, 3 matches remaining.
  • Division Four – 6 or 7 matches played, 3 to 4 matches remaining.
  • Division Five – 7 or 8 matches played, 2 to 3 matches remaining.

Dorset League

  • Division One – 6 or 7 matches played, 3 to 4 matches remaining.
  • Division Two – 6, 7 or 8 matches played, 2 to 4 matches remaining.
  • Division Three – 6 matches played, 4 matches remaining.

Bacchus League

  • Bournemouth East – 1, 2 or 3 matches played, 1 to 3 matches remaining.
  • East – 4 to 7 matches played, 1 to 4 matches remaining.

B&DCL Team Handicap Knockout Cup – 2 matches remaining – 1 semi-final then 1 final.

These matches should take in the region of 6 to 12 weeks to complete.

 

Options on how to deal with the remaining 2019/20 Fixtures

At this stage it is believed there are five main options available to us when considering how to deal with this season’s unfinished matches:

Option A – Abandon the 2019/20 season – No league winners, no promotion and no relegation.

Option B – Use the current 2019/20 league tables to determine league winners/promotion/relegation.

Option C – Appoint a panel to determine league winners/promotion/relegation in an equitable way, maybe identify a few key matches to be played when safe to do so to achieve this, then consider the 2020/21 season.

Option D – Complete all outstanding 2019/20 fixtures in the normal OTB way when safe to do so, then consider the 2020/21 season.

Option E – Complete all outstanding 2019/20 fixtures online, then consider the 2020/21 season.

Options A to C, in different ways, are all a little unsatisfactory. Further, as we do not know yet when it will be safe to return to OTB competitive chess, we may need to be flexible by keeping all options open.

Option D is perhaps the most flexible OTB choice and two scenarios are discussed in more detail below.

Option E is perhaps a flexible & undeniably the safest overall choice, and it may work in some of our leagues and divisions. However, it does present many practical difficulties. In particular, we have to be mindful that some of our players may not wish to (or simply cannot) play on a different platform. There would also need to be a certain element of trust as people play in their own homes with no independent check. However, this option should not be discounted at this stage, particularly if, for whatever reason, OTB chess is not regarded as a viable option in the near or slightly longer term future.

In addition, given the structure and objectives of some of our leagues, it may be possible to apply a combination of options e.g. The Bacchus League is designed to provide experience to newcomers and juniors with no promotion or trophies, therefore Option A might be attractive and this could be different from the approach we adopt for our other leagues.

 

Option D – Flexible OTB Solution

There are 2 alternative scenarios.

Option D-1 If the UK Government and the ECF and we consider it is safe for everyone to return to playing OTB competitive chess either in September, but at the latest by October 2020:

  • Complete the current 2019/20 season between September / October and early December 2020 but be prepared to suspend again if there is a second wave.
  • Committee Meetings to be held in November and AGMs to be held in December (to cover presentation of trophies but no rule changes including any change in constitution).
  • Use the Christmas period to determine a reduced set of 2020/21 league fixtures.
  • Play the 2020/21 season between January and April 2021, 6 teams in each division play each other once (i.e. 5 matches).
  • In May 2021 – If the result can make a difference in determining the championship, promotion or relegation places, then the top two and bottom two teams in each division play each other again (but with home venue reversed to their previous match) with the result being added to the league table – This ensures that teams play each other twice for the critical matches. Teams that come 3rd or 4th cannot be promoted or relegated.
  • Committee Meetings in May 2021 and AGMs in June 2021.

Option D-2 If the UK Government and the ECF and we consider it is safe for everyone to return to playing OTB competitive chess some time between November 2020 and March 2021:

  • Complete the current 2019/20 season, to be finished within 3 months of restarting but be prepared to suspend again if there is a second wave.
  • Abandon the 2020/21 season but devise an alternative friendly but shorter possibly graded league tournament (perhaps with larger teams) depending on any remaining timescale.
  • Committee Meetings to be held as per normal, in February/March and May 2021 and AGMs to be held in June.

 

Summary

This is primarily a consultation / discussion document to keep our members and clubs informed, and to seek initial comments & views from them on our options to deal with the 2019/20 season.

It is important to note that it is still too early to commit to any of the above options as the infection rates are still currently too high for the age demographics of our members and may increase at any point. There are also real concerns about a possible second wave, hence why specific questions have not been asked as part of the feedback process.

Subject to your valued feedback, there appears to be five options to consider at the appropriate time by the B&DCL / DCCA.

Martin Simons – B&DCL Chairman – 1st July 2020

Feedback Form

If you have any comments  relating to the above please fill in the form below.  Unless you indicate otherwise, your feedback will be posted here on this website, together with your name and club if you provide them.   We will aim to post comments within 48 hours of receipt. Your email address will NOT be posted, but would be helpful to have as Martin may wish to follow up on some feedback.   We may summarise lengthy comments and reserve the right to moderate comments in the interests of respectfulness.  You may find these Q&As helpful when considering your feedback.