Even the darkest clouds have a silver lining. While the pandemic might have no silver lining immediately visible, a close look reveals several minutiae missed at first glance. In the context of sports, chess has had monumental improvement during the pandemic, and might have just increased its reach amongst the masses! While the rest of the sports community slacked off due to restrictions on practice, chess flourished, since all it requires is a functional internet connection and the slightest of interests to get completely hooked.
Veritably, the number of new members on chess.com almost tripled, while the number of active games doubled in 2020 as compared to data from 2019! Old and young relished the challenge that the game presents, in an attempt to escape the monotony of a routine-less day. Yet others benefitted from the game in completely unrelated ways. Stand-up comedian and joint winner of Comicstaan 2, Samay Raina began streaming chess battles on his YouTube channel and in a matter of just 6 months, his subscribers increased ten-fold and his video views increased by a whopping 50-fold! Another popular streaming site Twitch.com reported a phenomenal increase in the number of active channels and hours streamed during the initial lockdown.
Things however aren't all goody-goody for chess. With things returning back to normal and regular chess matches being held, the age old sacrosanct practice of the handshake has now been abandoned, and replaced by safer alternatives. There have been a few incidences of malpractice and imposters being reported, partly because faces become unrecognisable after wearing a mask & chess doesn't require one to speak.
A hefty chunk of Grandmasters has favoured the decision to go online, and many debates have been conducted on moving the chess circuit completely online permanently. Ironically, the online chess arena is a place where players have come closer and bonded better. So what are you waiting for? Tried playing yet? Grab your laptop and start strategizing! And do check out the Triviathon post on Chess only on Aavhan's Instagram page!