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Online versions of chess have nearly killed the experience of playing someone in person.
That’s the opinion of local chess master David McTavish. The father of two has played chess since he was a teenager but over the years, he’s noticed that the enthusiasm to play with other people in tournaments such as the Ontario Open Chess Championship held at the GameShelf over the long weekend has diminished.
He said it’s because more players prefer to play online than sitting down across a table and seeing their opponent face-to-face.
“(The game) loses intimacy when you play online,” McTavish said. “They play online now that’s why clubs aren't so prominent.”
Despite the decline, McTavish hasn’t stopped playing although he’s retired from competitive chess and has taught his two daughters how to play as well. He said they are also working to start a youth league in the city.
He said he’s glad to pass on the skill of chess to a younger generation.
“The game goes back quite a ways and I think they traced it back to Persia,” he said. “It’s a mental twister and it keeps your mind active.
Shawn Geley, the tournament organizer, said as of Saturday there’s 16 people participating so far but anyone who wants to play can still do so until the third round begins. With that extra time, he said he hopes more will come.
The first round went well and there’s been a high level of chess being played, he said.
“It can be anyone’s game,” Geley said. “This is the Ontario open and we only host this every five years. With this tournament, you can actually get titles or become a coach and then you can even teach chess if you win this tournament. Everyone wants to win because there’s a lot of benefits.”
The winner of the Ontario championships can also move up to the Canadian Close Tournament and from there possibly the world tournament.
In order to pull off the tournament, Geley has to make sure everyone is paired just right. If they aren’t put with an opponent that can allow them a chance to get to first place then there could be some frustration from the players.
It’s a balancing act, he said.
Geley said the appeal of chess is that it’s an ever-changing puzzle game.
“You never know what to except,” he said. “The best way that I can put it is that you are trying to take a final exam and the questions are constantly changing. At first, you don’t know what to do but eventually you figure it out. When that happens it is such a relief.”
The tournament wraps up on Monday.
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