(Click on underlined link) \/ to end of list \/
/\ back to top /\
Re-Opening Chess Clubs
government has partially relaxed restrictions on social activity during the
coronavirus pandemic. Along with the opening for business of various
non-essential shops, restaurants and pubs, all subject to rigorous controls
of course, it is now possible for some “community facilities” to re-open,
though circumspection is advised.
has adapted, for chess, the guidance drawn up by the English Bridge
Union. This is particularly detailed, and advises much which many might
feel too much extra effort at this stage. For this guidance see https://www.englishchess.org.uk/chess-clubs-and-covid-19/.
Holmfirth Chess Club, for one, has opened up again on the basis of this
guidance (see below).
guidance at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-the-safe-use-of-multi-purpose-community-facilities/covid-19-guidance-for-the-safe-use-of-multi-purpose-community-facilities
3c: Recreation, leisure
and social gatherings
or groups that use community facilities can begin to meet again and
facility managers should follow these COVID-19 secure guidelines to
or locations which are COVID-19 secure will be able to hold more than 30
people, subject to their own capacity limits, although any individual groups
should not interact with anyone outside of the group they are attending the
venue with – so in a group no larger than 2 households or 6 people if
meeting in a club or group context at a community centre should be
encouraged to socially distance from anyone they do not live with or who is
not in their support bubble. In general, people are being advised to
indoors in groups of up to 2 households
in a group of no more than 2 households (including your support bubble) or
in a group of up to 6 people from different households.
facilities should therefore not facilitate large gatherings or
celebrations. See guidance
on weddings. We recognise the importance of social clubs for some
individuals and recommend that these can proceed with caution in venues
that have been made COVID-19 secure.
facilities should not permit live performances, including drama, comedy and
music, to take place in front of a live audience. This is important to
mitigate the risks of droplets and aerosol transmission – from either the
performer(s) or their audience. There will be further guidance setting out
how performing arts activity can be managed safely in other settings, for
instance rehearsing or broadcast without an audience.
community facilities should also not permit sports activities that would
typically take place in a gym, sports venue, or a fitness or dancing studio
– these venues have not yet been permitted to open.
under the heading “2. Core principles for safely reopening community
facilities”, it says:
Social distancing and capacity
should be in place to ensure all users of community facilities follow the
guidelines on social distancing, including strict adherence to social
distancing of 2 metres or 1 metre with risk mitigation (where 2 metres is
not viable) are acceptable. You should consider and set out the mitigations
you will introduce in your risk assessment.
size and circumstance of the premises will determine the maximum number of
people that can be accommodated while also facilitating social distancing.
In defining the number of people that can reasonably follow 2 metres
distancing (or 1 metre with risk mitigation), the total floorspace as well
as likely pinch points and busy areas should be taken into account (e.g.
entrances, exits) and where possible alternative or one-way routes
should continue to socially distance from those they do not live with
wherever possible. Users of community facilities should limit their social
interactions to 2 households (including support bubbles) in any location;
or, if outdoors, potentially up to 6 people from different households. It
is against the law for gatherings of more than 30 people to take place in
private homes (including gardens and other outdoor spaces). However,
premises or locations which are COVID-19 secure will be able to hold more
than 30 people, subject to their own capacity limits, although any
individual groups should not interact with anyone outside of the group they
are attending the venue with – so in a group no larger than 2 households or
6 people if outdoors.
does the guidance seem to define the “risk mitigation” which permits 2-metre
distancing to be reduced to 1 metre, and I would suggest 2 metres should be
the minimum basis for spacing of sedentary chess-players, even the two
players in a single game. This could work in a room in use only by the
chess club, though if the room was in a pub, and drinks were being served
only at table, by a waiter/waitress, then that aspect of many club members
chess evenings might be compromised.
of chess can, in the general case, conveniently be construed as 1 person from
one household meeting with 1 person from anther household. Thus each
game constitutes a “group” in the above guidance, and the instruction “any
individual groups should not interact with anyone outside of the group they
are attending the venue with,” under 3c above, rather implies players from
one game should not wander round the room looking at other games. This
latter point is in fact included in the above-referenced ECF guidance.
disposition of equipment at a club evening would best involve the two players
in a game each having their own boards placed side by side, so avoiding
having players facing each other (thus providing a possible “mitigation”
permitting the 1 metre spacing), with the players announcing their moves and
making their opponents moves on their own boards. This is all
essentially as in a game involving a blind player. If it were possible
to make use of transparent screens, then they could be introduced between the
players from one player’s side of the table to the other. In fact
transparent screens could allow face-to-face play, as in the two ways planned
for use at the 2020 Irish Championship (see https://www.icu.ie/articles/906).
The Irish organisers have even devised a way of players using a single clock
(a potentially tricky area) despite being well socially distanced and
separated by a screen!
club met once a week, then sanitising chessmen etc might be unnecessary, as
they could lie unused for over 72 hours, and so with any luck lose any
coronaviruses they had picked up from the players. Nevertheless, hand
sanitising facilities would still need to be supplied for use before and
after the evening’s activities.
chess club would impose obligations not only on the chess-players, but also
on the venue managers in providing a COVID-19 secure venue.
Westmoreland has reported on progress at Holmfirth is follows:
can still start up Clubs again. Admittedly numbers will be down.
put Holmfirth Chess Club back together as soon as the pub we play at
for the 1 meter + guidance, with mitigations in place, and using the ECF
risk assessment (enjoyed reading this as I am a Risk Manager!) Chess clubs and Covid-19 – English
Chess Federation we are doing the following:
Hand sanitiser on each table (cheap off Amazon and needs to be over 60%
Each player has their own board
Players do not sit directly opposite at the table (diagonally instead) and
reflect moves on their boards
Request that there is no handshaking, hugging and so forth
As we are playing once a week and the room is cleaned daily, no scrubbing
is required after sessions. The life cycle for COVID 19 on surfaces such as
wood (4 days), plastic (2-3 days) and fabric (less than most hard surfaces)
means we do not need to go overboard.
mitigates touch risk and breathing risk. It caters for those concerned and
those who think it is ridiculous. I have some advantages with big tables
and a large upstairs room, whilst the pub do the track and trace (alongside
another big tub of handwash which is mandatory on entering). I am getting
5-6 players a week across Huddersfield, Honley and Holmfirth, with this
expected to increase when holidays are done (people minimising risk) and
confidence picks up with others.
Click here for photographs of a Holmfirth
chess evening in progress on these lines.
government guidance on social distancing can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/staying-alert-and-safe-social-distancing/staying-alert-and-safe-social-distancing-after-4-july.
clubs eventually opened up okay, the next question would be how to play
inter-club matches. That is more difficult, and Tim Wall has published
thoughts on “hybrid chess” as a way of achieving this.
Mann (of whom the above are personal thoughts, rather than views of the