While most of the world is under lockdown as a result of the coronavirus outbreak and many sports events are being canceled, several other changes were seen on the chess is seeing a large increase in interest and activity.
Computer and smartphone screens are replacing physical chess boards, as tournaments are held online. One of those took place on Wednesday, when 65 chess players competed from ten different countries.
During the competition, an Israel team named chess4all had a bout with a team consisting of Arab players from several countries, including Syria, Tunisia and Algeria – countries that normally boycott Israel, whose athletes avoid competing against Israeli athletes.
Other teams included players from Morocco, Egypt and Jordan, as well as players from Lebanon and Iran who ultimately did not participate due to technical reasons.
There had been issues in past tournaments with Iranians refusing to play against Israelis. Two young Iranian chess champions have refused to play against Israelis at the 2019 World Youth and Junior Chess Championships.
During the coronavirus outbreak, as tournaments were forced to be canceled, new ones were organized online. Since the beginning of the outbreak, chess websites worldwide report a 50% increase in activity and the amount of games being played online. The same is being reported in Arab countries.