Updated: Dec 17, 2021
Dear ICA Students and Parents,
I believe that tournaments are the lifeblood of a chess community. They are opportunities to enjoy company and competition as well as a way for students of a game to show off the skills they work hard to acquire. The pandemic began almost two years ago, and all the tournaments were cancelled. As it quickly became clear that COVID was going to affect the world for a long time, I feared that our students might go years without the chance to compete. Thanks to the recent growth of online chess, however, this did not have to be the case. Less than three months after the start of the pandemic, we hosted our first online tournament. Despite the fact that this was a new experience for both staff and students alike, we had a remarkable 52 players for our inaugural event. While the first few weeks were a bit rocky while everyone got their online bearings, by June the staff as well as the players fell into a rhythm that has continued for a year and a half. The fact that everyone was on camera and able to talk to each other in the lead-up to the tournament gave everyone a little taste of the interpersonal connection that is key to the in-person tournament experience. The tournaments grew over time, going from an average of about 20 players in the first few months to about 50 per tournament by January 2021! Using the same quads format we had used for our weekly in-person tournaments, we gave new players a taste of organized competition while providing more experienced players a safe place to vie for pride, rating points, and prizes. While many of our players were locals who would have been playing in person if they had the chance, a significant number of the participants came from other states, and international players joined us from Germany, Vietnam, and Singapore.
After a successful run, we have concluded that the online quads have done their job of giving players a way to get their fill of tournament play while everyone was locked down. In-person tournament are now making a comeback at ICA and around the country, so we will not be running online quads once the new year starts. Thanks to all of the players who gave us a chance (and often returned after their first tournament). Special thanks to our regulars, many of whom missed only a handful of tournaments over the course of 18 months. Thanks to the vast majority of our players for abiding by our fair-play rules and for being patient and understanding as we dealt with the few occasions when someone did not. Thanks to all of the staff who helped make these events possible, including tournament directors Nick, Josh, Alex, James, Ethan, and Michael. Finally, thanks to our director, Diana, for making these events possible in the first place. Happy holidays to all, and we hope to see many of you soon in-person at our Glen Rock quads!
Alessandro De Marchi-Blumstein
ICA Chief Tournament DIrector