Chess in times of Corona: An example from Upper Franconia

7/9/2020 – As is well known, the coronavirus pandemic has brought public chess life to a standstill. But now it is slowly getting back into gear. In Bischofsgrün, the Upper Franconian Senior Championships were played. The social-distance rule was meticulously observed — with double boards.

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Senior Chess Championship of Upper Franconia

By Jürgen Wempe

In a lovely valley, not far from Bayreuth, this year’s Senior Individual Championship of Upper Franconia took place in Bischofsgrün. For a long time it looked as if this chess event would also be prevented by the coronavirus. But it came about that a few days before the event, changes in the restrictions were announced, which prompted fifty participants to be allowed to participate again. All hygiene and distance rules were fulfilled in the Sporthotel Kaiseralm. The tournament hall permitted the development of 18 games at a time, with each of them being played on two boards (see photo).

Upper Franconia Senior Chess Championship 2020

Two-board chess

Upper Franconia Senior Chess Championship 2020

Social distance

Each player kept the same board and pieces for every round. Thus, a safe and comfortable chess tournament was possible, much to the delight of the 36 chess players who registered to participate.

The favourite and winner from 2018, Christian Schatz from Postbauer Heng, had a difficult start and after four rounds was already a whole point behind Manfred Kröncke, who started with 4 out of 4. In round 6, Michael Gihr managed to win against Kröncke and so he took the lead. Before the final round, CM Schatz and Gihr were equal in points and tiebreak scores, with Kröncke and Manuela Schmitz placed close behind. Since nobody could get a win in the last round, the Buchholz tiebreaker score decided who got first place — Manfred Gihr had a bit of luck and was declared the winner.

Upper Franconia Senior Chess Championship 2020

The winners

Besides several hikes — e.g. to Ochsenkopf (1,024 meters above sea level) — the Luisenburg Rock Labyrinth was also visited. The changing summer weather allowed us to get a good training for body and mind (and the chess muscles).

Upper Franconia Senior Chess Championship 2020

Greetings from nature

The fact that a successful and safe chess tournament can be held if there is enough space in the hall and not too many players was demonstrated here in an exemplary manner. We can only hope tournament-chess life can soon gain momentum again.

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