Jonah Kim, Copy

While students everywhere are experiencing online classes and some are not even able to go into physical school, many sports teams have continued practicing and competing. For the Seabury chess team, however, this is not the case; this year their competitions will be held online. Not being face to face with an opponent is certainly different and brings a whole new aspect to the game.

    One main issue that comes up with online competitions is cheating. Freshman Xiangxiang Zhang says, “There are a lot of worries I have with online chess. Mostly because in chess it’s so easy to cheat because computers at this point can play better than any human Grandmaster . . . and it’s so easy to find a computer. I’m really worried about how easily people can cheat.” A Chess Grandmaster is the highest attainable level of chess and only 1500 out of the 800 million chess players in the world have achieved this title.

Eighth grader Truman Sizemore is also concerned about cheating: “I think that having digital competitions will impact the matches a lot, because if people really wanted to win, they could just run a computer program on a different computer or device and totally take the fun out of it.” Sizemore predicts that some will try to use this crutch. “I think that some people will gain advantages by cheating, and this kind of takes the spirit of the game away,” he says. 

Freshman Hayden Slough also explains that it might be hard to spot a cheater: “With the current format they’re going with, it would definitely be very possible to cheat rather easily, and no real way to tell whether someone else is cheating.”

    Along with the issue of cheating, the dynamic of a match completely changes when it is not in person. As Zhang says, “It feels a lot different when playing in person. Especially with an in-person board compared to pictures on a screen, calculating and looking forward is very different.” 

Sizemore is more concerned about the social aspect, saying, “The best thing about in person tournaments is that you could hang out with your friends and play football between games, and with online you just can’t really do that.” 

While the team has not had any online competitions yet, they have had practices in the new format. “The transition to practicing online as opposed to in person was a bit rough at first,” Slough says, “but it has definitely leveled out some.”

    Despite the concerns regarding online competitions, the team still feels prepared, even as new team members are forced to learn such an unorthodox way of competing. To sum it up, Zhang says, “This is all very new territory, but I think at the end of the day, it’s still the same game and the new beginners can enjoy chess just as much as we have.”