The covid-19 lockdown has driven the world to come up with different things, it has changed our lives, and also chess. But probably, not for something bad, thanks to the pandemic, we have now the new chess modality: hybrid chess.
Hybrid chess is a new modality to play chess that was recognized by FIDE recently, as a good measure to compete in chess during the lockdown.
It consists of holding a chess tournament online, but in a different place. Online tournaments were something that everyone expected, in the pandemic times, everything became online.
Of course, the first question everybody had was “how are they planning to prevent players from cheating playing a chess game from their houses?”
Simple, they are not going to play from their houses, they are going to play from their clubs or federation. It has a lot of advantages, and of course, the games are always monitored by arbiters of the federation.
The games are played in a public place still, but at least, with fewer people around to keep everyone safe.
What are the rules?
To play the games players must attend to the place approved by the federation, a club of renown, or a chess federation. Then, the players will be provided with a spot and computer for them to play.
Every tournament, which has a small number of players playing simultaneously, will have at least two arbiters. The number of arbiters may be more or less depending on the number of players.
Also, the participants may use their own devices to play, you can bring your laptop to play if you like. Yet, in that case, maintaining a call via Zoom is required to keep them from cheating.
The players are assigned a special place for them to play, and they will be monitored also by a personal camera.
All of this means none will be able to cheat, or at least you must be a Houdini to do it.
The time control is the same as in normal classic chess competitions 90 minutes, with 30+ increment per move. Sometimes, it changes to a 35+ increment because the players have to play the move on a physical board.
Automatic DGT chessboards are used to play this modality, which provides comfort and a similar experience to other tournaments.
Advantages of the hybrid chess
As the first we can mention is, obviously, security, the hybrid chess has brought many solutions to chess players. We have to take care of the pandemic, and hybrid chess allows us to keep competing in chess while we are secure.
Also, an important factor is a cost and effort inverted in tournaments. Yes, the accommodation and the arrangement of a good place to hold a tournament are pretty good.
Yet, there is no need for any of this if playing in a hybrid chess mode. This also allows the players to attend tournaments all around the world without traveling, which is always exhausting.
Also, I bet any player would feel more comfortable going to play a tournament in their clubs than in another country. This can give people a good feel for hybrid chess.
It was very difficult to see a pretty hard match between two monsters of chess like Levon Aronian or another super-GM. But with the hybrid chess modality, the distance will not be a problem.
And such a high-rank match can be arranged without much complication through the internet. The hybrid chess mode has arrived to stay for a very long time.
Disadvantages of the hybrid chess
Of course, not everything will be roses in the field, it has some minor problems that could give bad results. Playing your opponent face to face has its own appeal, which is something that unfortunately can’t be done during the pandemic.
We have to consider the players will need to be exposed to the light of a computer for long periods of time. And, it may sound easy, but switching your view from the computer’s screen to the board isn’t a good thing.
It can make the players extremely exhausted after a game, even more playing chess, which is a mental strain by itself.
Now, there are more factors that the tournament organizers need to look forward to, as the internet connection and servers.
Although it has its inconvenient, we can all trust that FIDE will make several adjustments as this modality is more embraced by the community.
This will not be a factor that weighs too much in the players’ performance, or at least that is what we hope. Anyway, it is a fact that hybrid chess will be the favorite chess modality until lockdown measures soften a little.
How will hybrid chess change the FIDE competitions?
The games played with this modality and the way they are going to be played are going to be the most similar to regular chess. FIDE is trying to implement hybrid chess in the most pacific way possible, trying to keep their competitions essence.
But now, they will have to teach their personal to use the technology and strategies needed to organize the tournament. Different apparel will be needed and new rules will have to be created.
Hybrid chess is not a slight adjustment, is a whole reinvention of competitive chess due to the conditions.
There could probably be some changes in which the increment per move may go from 30+ to 35+. The reason for this is that the players will need to make their moves on a physical board.
The DGT physical chessboard will not be used in blitz competitions because of the quickness of the game.
What would happen in the case of a misclick?
What would happen if the player makes its move but for connection problems, something happens?
What if the platform shows errors?
These questions can be done by anyone, but their answers will have to appear in the future, or maybe not, hopefully, everything goes the right way.
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