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.

ChessBase 15 - Mega package ChessBase 15 - Mega package

Find the right combination! ChessBase 15 program + new Mega Database 2020 with 8 million games and more than 80,000 master analyses. Plus ChessBase Magazine (DVD + magazine) and CB Premium membership for 1 year!


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.


Topics: coronavirus
Discussion and Feedback Join the public discussion or submit your feedback to the editors


Rules for reader comments


Not registered yet? Register

caselli caselli 7/9/2020 10:58
There are no answers.
Only sad questions.
By the way I know that in Switzerland the tournements have restarted, even rapid.
How do they play?
Maybe with face masks and gloves...
Leavenfish Leavenfish 7/9/2020 09:15
Poorly written article...just should be fleshed out a bit more. Like is pointed out about Time Pressure.... Do they call out their moves? What is someone goes to the bathroom and you need to move? What is your opponent cannot see clearly at that distance? What if he cannot hear?

The World demands answers!
sshivaji sshivaji 7/9/2020 08:49
Agree with caselli. Its impossible to play like this in time pressure. Its hard to make your opponent's move and your move when you literally have seconds left on your clock. Maybe we should have a COVID increment, an additional 5 seconds to make your opponents move on your board?
caselli caselli 7/9/2020 04:46
How on Earth can you play in zeitnot with this crazy layout?
It's good only for a sloth, the slow moving animal with long limbs, very useful to press the far away clock.
sligunner sligunner 7/9/2020 03:33
There should still be a perspex screen between the two boards – coughs, sneezes, etc.
DevastatioN DevastatioN 7/9/2020 02:46
I like how in the original photo, the boards are setup in a way that both players are playing white... that would get only slightly confusing :) This is the same method I have thought about implementing for our local tournaments.
KevinC KevinC 7/9/2020 02:11
Good luck with that in a massive time scramble. How does that work?