Other States

Nothing like playing chess over the board, says Harikrishna

P. Harikrishna.

P. Harikrishna.  

Talking over phone from Prague, P. Harikrishna sounded cheerful on Thursday evening. He had reasons to be happy; he finally was able to play in a chess tournament after a gap of five months.

The Biel International Chess Festival, which concluded in Switzerland on Wednesday, was the first major chess tournament after the coronavirus crisis impacted the world. Harikrishna did rather well, too. He won the titles in the classical and Chess960 events and finished runner-up overall, by just half-a-point.

“It was a great feeling to be back in a tournament hall after five months,” the World No. 26 told The Hindu. “Though I have been playing quite a bit of online chess like everybody else, there is nothing like sitting in front of a chessboard, facing your rival.” But the conditions were a lot different in Biel as the COVID-19 guidelines had to be followed. “The organisers were very careful and implemented all the precautions prescribed by the doctors,” Harikrishna said. “The players were separated by a plexiglass; I could get used to it pretty quickly.”

No shaking hands

The players also had to get used to the practice of not shaking hands. Normally, a game of chess would begin and end with a handshake.

“Michael Adams had extended his hand when he decided to concede a game to me, but both of us remembered that we were not supposed to do that,” Harikrishna smiled. “The board and the chess pieces were frequently disinfected and there were separate doors to enter and exit the venue.”

Though there were only eight players in the main event, some 150 took part in the open tournament. “A distance of 1.5m was maintained between the players,” he said. “For the blitz event, there was no plexiglass, so we had to wear masks.”

Harikrishna feels the organisers could take credit for organising such a big event when very few people were willing to. “No one would have blamed them if they didn’t conduct this tournament,” he said. “Fortunately, everything went off well.”

Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Sep 26, 2020 8:43:38 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/other-sports/nothing-like-playing-chess-over-the-board-says-harikrishna/article32233562.ece

Next Story