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Chess players switch to online platforms, compete internationally

MADISON – COVID-19 pandemic’s constraints of social distancing and stay-at-home guidelines have not thwarted the dedication of chess players across Madison.

Because players cannot gather for games, the youth have moved to online platforms to continue their chess activity in Madison.

“While a number of our students played online chess before, supplementing what we did in face-to-face meetings, online chess has proven to be a great way to give our kids access to continue an extra-curricular activity they enjoyed before school closure,” Ranae Bartlett said. Bartlett is Executive Director of Madison City Chess League.

“Each school chess club has found ways to meet using video-conferencing capabilities, usually using Google Meet and playing chess on ChessKid.com or Chess.com,” Bartlett said.

In addition, Madison City Schools provides a free gold membership on ChessKid.com to every elementary student. Students can continue to access the site during summer.

Middle school students enrolled in chess elective courses, and chess team members also have free gold ChessKid accounts. As a result, two online chess championship events will be held in May:

* Elementary Online Chess Championship on ChessKid — May 2 at 2 p.m.
* Junior High Online Chess Championship on ChessKid — May 9 at 2 p.m.

To prepare, school chess clubs are hosting Hour of Chess events or school club tournaments during their afternoon meeting times. Madison City Chess League also hosts an Hour of Chess on Mondays at 6 p.m. (in lieu of weekly meetings at Madison Public Library). Any student in Madison City Schools can log on to play chess with others across the city.

Many high school students on chess teams also have free gold accounts on ChessKid and act as coaches at local schools.

“Our middle and high school students (and some higher rated elementary students) are involved in something new we are starting: International Matches with clubs on Chess.com,” Bartlett said. Recently, two MCCL clubs played teams from South Africa and England.

Chess officials in Madison are exploring rated chess matches on Chess.com. United States Chess Federation has approved online rated chess rules because of COVID-19. Youth can play fast games (blitz and rapid). (new.uschess.org/news/us-chess-announces-online-events-partnership-chess-com)

Upcoming events with Madison City Chess League are available at madisonchess.com/events/upcoming.

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