The Cuban Chess Federation has an idea for a fun, educational way to spend some time with the family, staying home to help stop the spread of COVID-19: its first online tournament, using the platform www.lichess.org.
Upon hearing about the event, I couldn’t help but think of the 1965 Capablanca in Memoriam competition held in Havana, the IV, when the U.S. Grand Master Robert Fischer participated from New York, although at that time, doing so was much more complicated.
The State Department had prohibited Fischer’s trip to Cuba for the event, so he played via teletype from the Marshal Chess Club, with the news agency Prensa Latina providing the link in the Havana Libre Hotel’s Ambassadors Hall.
In October of 1966, Fischer traveled to Havana from Mexico, with a courtesy visa, as a member of the United States team to the World Chess Olympiad, and on that occasion met Fidel.
At the time, chess games had been conducted by telephone and through the mail, but what the Cuban organizers proposed had never been done before: a world class competition via teletype.
The internet makes moving chess pieces from afar much easier, as Jit Digital explains. For those with a connection, games in the Chess Federation’s online tournament will be held between nine and 10pm, when traffic in Cuba tends to be lighter.
The convocation was sent out to all of the Federation’s provincial branches, and registration will be conducted by chess commission at that level, checking personal information and assigning nicknames with which players are identified on the digital platform.
Sports via internet is gaining more participants all the time. News has arrived from China where, in an effort to reduce street traffic during the health emergency and protect the population’s health, a variety of events and tournaments have been organized online.