Our online chess club
I'll put a link to the Online Wellington Chess Club right up top to make it easier to find. Everything is organised around this page on Lichess.
Next Wednesday Arena (3rd June): https://lichess.org/tournament/xmgyR4nm
Also: next Tuesday Interclub (9th June): TBA
Here's an article on the NZCF website that provides some background information about how over-the-board chess clubs can go online effectively. Please read it and take on board the conduct guidelines. Just because it's online, doesn't mean we don't expect and demand the same respectful and mature behaviour that's the norm in the real-life chess club.
We are running our online club using the superb, completely free, Lichess.org chess site. So the first thing you need to do is Sign up if you haven't already got a Lichess account. If at all possible please use your real name, Forename_Surname has established itself as the best practice format. If you do that it will make it easier for everyone, especially the hard working people behind the scenes trying to keep the club going. It will also make your online chess feel more like real chess.
Next you need to apply to join the Online Wellington Chess Club before you can play in our matches and tournaments. Ian will see your application and accept you, but don't do this on the same night as events you want to join! It's a total pain for Ian and last minute drama is the last thing anyone needs.
You don't need to have your Wellington Chess Club application approved to start enjoying Lichess. It is highly recommended that you jump in and play plenty of other Lichess chess before you play a Wellington Chess Club event. Play in some tournaments (they run continually), to get practice in how Lichess tournaments ("Arenas") work.
All tournaments on Lichess are "Arenas". These are different to our normal Swiss system events, but they are perfectly adapted to the online world - basically to maximise the fun and minimise waiting around. Unlike a Swiss there's not a fixed number of rounds - instead there's a fixed duration. As soon as possible after finishing a game, you are paired again - possibly to someone you've already played! I can't emphasise enough that it's more fun if more people play. We started off with Arena play on Thursday nights, but now we have moved the Arena play to Wednesday night because we have found that it is actually possible to play normal club chess on Lichess, even though Lichess doesn't support this directly. Credit to Ian Sellen for deciding this was worth a go and proving it can be done (please read on).
As I write these words we have successfully staged the first two rounds of the Covid Rapid (on Thursday April 9th) and we are looking forward to the next two rounds (on Thursday April 16th). It's not too late to join in! Okay, so how does it work?
Here is a direct link to the forum topic for this tournament. You can read about how the tournament is run there, and find the draw for the next round. Play starts at 7:30pm each Thursday. VERY IMPORTANT: a second game is played once everyone has finished their game and reported their results to Ian. So look out for the draw on the forum for the second games of the evening sometime after 8:30pm or so.
Importantly Lichess is not running the tournament for us. Ian is creating the draw, entering results, creating a new draw when each round is over. Just as he does for normal club tournaments. He posts the draw on the forum and then it is up to the players to organise themselves to play the individual games on Lichess. This is not hard but it is not automatic.
The skills you will need to master are;
1) Challenges. You will need to find your opponent and challenge them to a 25+5 game (if you are White), or look out for a challenge (if you are Black).
2) Messages. Once the game is over, you will need to let Ian know your result. The normal convention is that the winner is responsible for letting the arbiter know the result, but please make sure that one player at least does it. (One player; Ideal. Two players; Not too bad. No player; Disaster!). The easiest way is to send Ian the result is with a Lichess message using this link.
Challenges and messages are handled very similarly by Lichess. To send messages and create challenges the first step is to locate the player you are messaging/challenging in Lichess. All the Wellington players are listed on the team page, so locating them is very easy - just to to the Team Page and click on the player. Once you have the player's page, look for the challenge (crossed swords) and message (message bubble) icons in the top right.
The first time I issued a challenge, I found the final step confusing. Just in case you are as silly as me, here's a screenshot.
Here I am challenging DrNykerstein, AKA Magnus Carlsen. The thing I found confusing was the final step, needed to actually issue the challenge. You have to click one of the three buttons at the bottom to indicate whether you want to be Black, Random colour or White (respectively). Remember for our tournaments, it is White who issues the challenge, so you'll always be pushing the last of the three buttons. Incidentally, no doubt intimidated by my 1357 rating, Magnus evaded my challenge. Hopefully on club night when your opponent is actually expecting the challenge you'll have no such problem.
Look out for little red circled numbers next to the bell icon to indicate you have notifications (challenges or messages). There are some more notes about using them in the next section. Once you've got over these hurdles once, they'll never trouble you again. Computer savvy players won't be troubled even the first time.
First Night Notes
Some additional notes I wrote up for the first night of the Covid Rapid. These notes might be helpful for new players.
All Wellington players are listed on our Team Page. A green circle means they are online.
More generally, to find any player, you can use the Community > Players page on Lichess. The search box is accessed with the magnifying glass icon in the top right You have to search for their Lichess name not their real life name! Once you've found your opponent look for the row of buttons that let you message them and/or challenge them. Play the game respectfully using the game chat about as much as you'd chat with your opponent on a normal Thursday night at the club (so maybe not too much!). Obviously don't use any kind of outside help.
Tonight we start the conventional multi-week Rapid, two rounds a night. This is an experiment. We are trying to run something as much like a normal club event as possible. If things don't go absolutely smoothly don't panic, take a deep breath and engage your brain before trying to get Ian (or me) to help you, we want to focus on our games as much as anyone! If you are trying to enter the tournament on game night, consider just watching until next week - the draw has been made and trying to accommodate you will likely cause problems (if there's a player with a BYE an exception may be made).
Here is a partial list of participating players with handles that don't obviously identify them in real life