Resuming social chess events

Friday 25 September, 2020

Update as of 18th October 2020: The below proposal did not raise sufficient interest to be worth pursuing, and London has since been placed under more stringent restrictions that make social chess gatherings impossible for the time being in any case. We will do our best to resume over-the-board events as soon as the law permits it and members demand it. Up-to-date information may always be found here.

In recent weeks, we have been considering whether it is possible for us to hold over-the-board social chess evenings under the current Government rules designed to restrict the spread of COVID-19.

After discussing the matter with the owners of our regular venue, we currently think social chess events should be feasible there, provided the gatherings are restricted to six people or fewer and we follow certain precautions (see below).

However, we do not wish to waste club funds on venue bookings if there is insufficient demand for such events. We therefore ask that any members who would like to attend in-person social chess evenings under the conditions listed below, please email David Lewis as soon as possible.

If there is interest from members, we would aim to hold approximately one evening event per month (not necessarily on our traditional Thursday club night). The events would be held from October onwards, so attendees would need to have renewed their membership for 2020/21.

Each event would need to have a session leader to implement the Church’s anti-COVID-19 and security checklists (e.g. locking up after everyone has left). Any members willing to do this should please indicate this in their email to David. If an event did not have a willing session leader, then it would not be able to go ahead.

The following would be required for anyone attending:

  • Book in advance so that we can comply with the “rule of six” - this may not be for those of us who like to make a spontaneous last-minute decision!
  • Be well - do not attend if you feel unwell!
  • Keep doors and (weather permitting, which seems unlikely) windows open, to ensure through ventilation
  • Complete and sign a contact register for track-and-trace purposes - sheets will be kept in the equipment cupboard
  • Wear a face covering at all times (but special rules may apply while you are playing chess - see below). A supply of face masks will be kept in the equipment cupboard, but bring your own just in case the supply runs out before we can replace them.
  • Sanitise and wash hands on entering and exiting the building, and regularly while on the premises, including of course after using the toilet
  • Use the antiseptic products supplied, and of course plain soap and water. Antiseptic products will be in the equipment cupboard, but please bring your own just in case supplies run out before we can replace them
  • Keep to the two-metre rule of social distancing where possible, or one metre while wearing a face covering (which you should be wearing all the time except when eating or drinking or - perhaps - when using two boards at two metres as suggested below)
  • Do not use the kettle or mugs in the kitchen (but you may bring your own food, drink and drinking vessels)
  • Help put away equipment between 10:00 and 10:15 pm if possible - but do not put away tables and chairs because these will be given a deep clean the following day
  • Leave the contact register on a table or shelf - the Church will retain it
  • Phone the Church’s Lettings Officer (whose contact details will be on the contact register) if you subsequently develop symptoms (high temperature, headache, dry cough, sore throat, no taste or smell, tiredness, shortness of breath) or test positive for COVID-19, so that she can advise everyone present with you to get tested

While playing chess:

  • We recommend that you avoid using a clock, since clocks are not essential for social chess and may harbour the virus and assist its transfer to your opponent and others
  • We strongly recommend that each game employs two chess sets, with the players positioning themselves at least two metres from each other on one of the long tables (or shorter tables suitably distanced), the players using one board each, and calling out their moves
  • The Government’s latest guidance (22 September) says: “Stay 2 metres apart from people you do not live with where possible, or 1 metre with extra precautions in place (such as wearing face coverings or increasing ventilation indoors).” Playing with two boards should enable you to stay two metres apart from your opponent. We do not recommend you remove your face covering while using two chess boards at two metres, but if you do need to remove it this does not seem to breach the official guidance so far as we can tell - we’ll need to keep this under review

The Club may need to amend these requirements from time to time to comply with changes in Government regulations and guidelines, and in the light of experience.

We will continue to maintain up-to-date information on our response to COVID-19 here.