'Online chess is more popular than ever’

| Jelle Posthuma

Members of the UT community battle for victory each and every week. Sometimes at the top level, sometimes in the lowest category and everything in between. This week an online chess tournament hosted by Blueshell takes centre stage.

A snapshot of six different game boards during the tournament.

Blueshell, the eSports association at the UT, organized the online chess tournament for the first time this year. Fifteen participants competed against each other in six rounds. In the end Thecheeser emerged as the undefeated winner. Master student Computer Science Ali Kalbiyev was responsible for the organisation.

Why an online chess tournament?

Kalbiyev: ‘This summer I noticed that a lot of people were engaged in online chess. There is probably a connection with the coronavirus. People are bored and looking for distractions. Online chess is also becoming more and more popular among the members of Blueshell. That's why I came up with the idea of organizing a tournament. It turned out that there was quite a bit of interest.’

Can you tell us a little more about the tournament?

‘The tournament consisted of six rounds and each player played one match in each round. The players were given ten minutes of thinking time per round: the maximum time they were allowed to think about their moves. Ten minutes is rather limited, because in classical chess there is a time limit of thirty minutes. It led to a very special technique for one of the players. He started very slowly and only began to play insanely speedy in the last three minutes. Within seconds he had his opponent checkmate. I think he enjoyed playing with his opponent and making things a little more difficult for himself. The great thing about online chess is that everyone can watch each other's matches. There was a lot of interest in the matches of the speed chess player.’

Who emerged as the winner?

Thecheeser (which was his online nickname of course). He won all of his matches. As a matter of fact, the level of the tournament was quite varied. Our system was such that the winner always had to play against the other winner, so that everyone ended up in the right category. Chess is a game for everyone. However, it's easy to learn, but hard to master.’

How did Blueshell cope with COVID-19?

‘Although Blueshell is an eSports association, we did miss our physical events, which sometimes even brought us together with almost 80 players. Still, we could quite easily adapt to the new situation. I think Blueshell has 'suffered' the least from the crisis of all the UT sports associations. There were still three or four events every week. As Blueshell, we try to follow the current trends in the gaming scene as best we can. Among Us, for example, has been a popular game recently. It is similar to the Dutch 'Weerwolven', in which the group tries to unmask two impostors. It is a game that you play in a social setting. That is exactly why it was so popular during the corona crisis. I think people miss the social interaction.’

Will there be a next edition of the online chess tournament?

‘Yes, we want to organize it once a month. During the next edition we will also introduce some new playing styles, such as 'bullet chess' where you play a game within one minute. There is plenty of interest in chess. We are looking for ways to make it as fun as possible.’

Game of the week

Now that the new academic year has started, the sports competitions are also starting up again (while it lasts). That is why our weekly sports item will return from this week onwards. Let’s hope of course that it will continue throughout the season. Is there a UT tournament coming up? Or are you taking part in a special competition? Let us now!