Biel International Chess Tournament

July 18-29, 2020

by

John Bain

The Biel International Chess Festival is a storied annual chess tournament taking place in Biel, Switzerland for the past 53 years.

After deliberating whether or not to cancel the 2020 event due to the coronavirus pandemic lockdowns, the governing authorities decided to proceed with certain health measures in place.

The 2020 Biel Chess Festival has two Sections–the Grandmaster Section with 8 players participating, and the Open Section with 150 players competing!

See the health measures the Swiss put in place below.


Biel Switzerland and Lake Biel at foothills of the the Jura Mountains

Biel, Switzerland

The city of Biel sits next to Lake Biel at the foot of the Jura Mountains range in northwest Switzerland.

In 2012, Biel had about 55,000 inhabitants, and together with the surrounding districts almost 106,000 people. The town has been an industrial and watchmaking heart of Switzerland since the 19th century.


The Health Measures

chess board on table with plexiglass shield set up

Plexiglass shields installed over chess boards and pieces at Grandmasters’ tables separate the players and provide a measure of protection.

 

GM hand to mouth reaches through plexiglass to make move

A Grandmaster reaches through the opening at the bottom of the plexiglass shield to capture an opponent’s piece.


Open Section of tournament players with hands to mouths playing chess no plexiglass shields

Social distancing. In the Open Section, chess boards are set up six feet apart from each other and the width of the tables widened by two feet.

 

Open Section of chess tournament hall set up with masks, sanitizer provided, no plexiglass shields

Masks and hand sanitizer are provided at each table for players in the Open Section with hand sanitizing stations also available nearby.


two players behind plexiglass shield one with hand to mouth ready to start a chess game

In the Grandmaster Section, two players are ready to start a chess game.

 

Six GMs play behind plexiglass shields with 3 of them hands to mouth

The Grandmasters’ tables are positioned on the stage above the Open Section in the tournament hall. Note the plexiglass shields separating the players from one another.


Relaxing between rounds at the 2020 Biel International Chess Festival

More social distancing. Large open spaces are provided for players to distance from one another, to relax after games and between rounds–and to review their games while physically distancing.


Sanitizing a chessboard between rounds

Tables, chairs, chess boards and pieces are sanitized between every round.

 

hand sanitizing stations place throughout the tournament hall

Hand sanitizing stations are provided throughout tournament hall and in the large open areas outside the tournament hall.


Prepare for Over-The-Board Play

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