Januar 15, 2021

Ten things you haven’t seen in your chess tournament before

Over the board chess is slowly coming back but it is not the same. Spectators, handshakes and mutual scoresheet signing are out, new equipment is in. Stefan Löffler has a list.

Not an astronaut, only the operator of the ozone canon owned by the Spanish Chess Federation. (Patricia Claros Aguilar)

Ozone canon
Spain is among the countries hit hardest by Covid-19. Javier Ochoa de Echaguen, President of the Spanish Chess Federation since 23 years and sure of reelection in September without a challenger in sight, has decided to spend €10,000 on ozone disinfection. By energizing oxygene an ozone canon produces the gas and is dispersing it in the tournament hall over night. Since breathing in ozone is dangerous, their operators come in gear resembling astronauts. Ozone has long been known to kill pathogens and has been credited to help keep SARS at bay in 2013. Covid-19 belongs to the same family of viruses, but kills much fewer of those it infects and spreads much more. The efficacy of ozone disinfection in fighting Covid-19 is controversial, but as this report in the blog of ABC shows the Spanish Chess Federation is taking no chances when it comes to the safety of its competitions.

Thermometer gun
You may be held at gun point before the next time you enter a tournament hall. You won’t have to drop your wallet though. It only lasts two seconds and serves to check your temperature. In Spain it is done by a medical doctor that the Spanish Federation has hired to supervise their fail-safe security measures and to reject anyone who shows symptoms of what might be a Covid-19 infection.

Disinfectant dispenser
In several countries you won’t be let to your board before you apply a disinfectant liquid or gel on your hands. And again if you leave the tournament hall to the toilet and want to reenter. Noone can be trusted to have washed their hands properly

Free masks
Many organisers are now providing you with a fresh chirurgical mask that covers mouth and nose before you enter the tournament hall. It has to be at least one mask per round. When a mask gets wet, additional supply is advisable, and so is a pictorial description for proper use. Are you one of those players who have trouble with their glasses fogging up? Clean your glasses with soap, adjust the wire of the mask above your nose, add a stripe of tissue, and when you breathe out through your mouth try to do it downwards rather than upwards.

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