- Kenyan chess players are turning to virtual tournaments organized by Prox Chess House, a company involved in selling chess equipment, training players, and organizing chess events in the country to remain active.
As the Coronavirus pandemic halt all sporting activities, a chess player has found a way out. Unlike other sporting disciplines, chess can be played virtually.
Through a link, players from across the country register and compete in various tournaments, where they also get an opportunity to win cash prizes. Chess Kenya is among the organizations that sponsor some of the virtual tournaments.
According to Titus Kirega, Prox Chess House Chief Executive Officer, online tournaments were introduced in 2017 but Local players are just embracing them now because of the disruption caused by the pandemic.
“Things have changed. We can now have up to 200 players competing in just one tournament. Before, foreign players were the ones who dominated tournaments, but now, we have many local players taking part,” said Kirega.
These tournaments are categorized into individual and team games, with a round lasting six minutes only. The time restriction is meant to curb cheating, which is made possible through the use of a separate computer or a phone with a chess engine. An arbitration committee is always on standby to listen to complaints before a winner receives the cash prize. Kirega added that his team has since banned two players for cheating.
Joseph Methu, Kenya’s top-seed said virtual competitions played a role in his journey to the top.
“Since board tournaments are expensive, I preferred playing online and it helped me a lot. Online competitions give one more exposure because you can play all types of players across the world,” said Methu.
“The online tournaments take place daily, unlike board chess where they happen like once a month. This is very helpful in making one a better chess player,” said Kenya’s fourth seed Ben Nguku.
The players have embraced the online playing as interesting in that, players can analyze the mistakes they made after the game, thus they get better.
Coronavirus pandemic suspended the Kenya Premier Chess League after the first round and it (Covid-19) has also led to the postponement of the World Chess Olympiad slated for August 5 to 18 in Russia.