Outdoor chess: Algeria

by Alexey Root
11/18/2020 – This article is the first in a series about outdoor chess. After a brief discussion of its advantages and disadvantages, a blitz tournament in an Algerian forest is described. Photos and the tournament report are by International Arbiter Nasreddine Announ; additional text by WIM Alexey Root. | Pictured: Achour Anis, winner of the outdoor tournament at the Sidi Slimane forest

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Outdoors > Indoors?

Playing chess outdoors may have some advantages over both online chess and indoor over-the-board chess. Online chess typically means hours of screen time. Yet looking at a screen for long periods of time risks eye fatigue. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, two-thirds of Americans reported “symptoms of digital eye strain” and screen time has become more common during the pandemic. Moreover, playing chess alone may lead to feelings of social isolation, a public health concern during the pandemic

Whether indoors or outdoors, chess played with other people may spread COVID-19. However, COVID-19 risks may be fewer outdoors compared to indoors. According to an article by Michael Levenson, Tara Parker-Pope, and James Gorman in The New York Times, “Pandemic life is safer outdoors, in part, because even a light wind will quickly dilute the virus. If a person nearby is sick, the wind will scatter the virus, potentially exposing nearby people but in far smaller quantities, which are less likely to be harmful.” Moreover, being outdoors and socializing with others brings joy, as expressed most recently in this opinion piece.

Chess tourism

Since travel is problematic during this pandemic, consider bookmarking these outdoor chess articles for ideas of where to be a chess tourist when the pandemic eases. According to travel websites, October and November are two of the best months for visiting Algeria. The autumn days are sunny and cool. 

Nasreddine Announ lives in Hadjout, a Northern Algerian city not far from the Mediterranean Sea. In July of 2019, Announ ran a 61-player Blitz tournament on Messelmoun beach. He also runs the Tipaza Chess League

Outdoor chess, Algeria

Click image to enlarge

Forest blitz

Announ loves the outdoors (see his flickr photostream) and he loves chess. As many Algerian indoor spaces suitable for chess tournaments are closed for the pandemic, Announ took chess outdoors to Sidi Slimane forest near Hadjout. Twenty players, ages 3 to 48, participated in a non-rated blitz tournament on October 24, 2020. The youngest of the three girls participating was three-year-old Yakine, Announ’s daughter. The Swiss System tournament had six rounds of 5m+2s (5 minutes plus a two-second increment). FIDE-rated Achour Anis won with six wins out of six games. 

The games were played on carpets placed on the forest floor. Refreshment breaks featured tea and Qalb El Louz (a traditional Algerian sweet). The tournament was directed by both International Arbiter Nasreddine Announ and FIDE Arbiter Abdelkarim Mousli.

Algeria, chess

The king is on b3! — 3-year-old Yakine Announ, Nasreddine’s daughter

Co-author

I met my co-author Nasreddine Announ in the Outdoor Chess Tables Facebook group, when Announ posted photos from his October 24, 2020 tournament. I was delighted to see those photos, as my plan is to write about countries which have outdoor chess currently. Algeria fit, as it has pleasant fall weather suitable for outdoor chess. 

Generally, outdoor chess happens only when temperatures are 50 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer. If my “outdoor chess” series continues into the spring of 2021, then I will write about outdoor chess in Northern Hemisphere countries. Previously, I wrote a two-part series on Chess Life Online about outdoor chess, focusing on four cities in the United States and on a handful of other countries too.

There are hundreds of other countries that may have outdoor chess. If you live in a country with outdoor chess right now, such as a country in the Southern Hemisphere or a Northern Hemisphere country with a mild winter, please contact me via editor@chessbase.com or via Facebook (Alexey Root).

Algeria, chess

Nasreddine Announ is the one taking the selfie!


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Topics: Outdoor chess

Alexey was the 1989 U.S. Women's Chess Champion and is a Woman International Master. She earned her bachelor’s degree in History at the University of Puget Sound and her doctoral degree in Education at The University of California, Los Angeles. She has been a Lecturer in Interdisciplinary Studies at UT Dallas since 1999 and is a prolific author.
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