Government restrictions on competitive activity have hit chess hard. There are currently no significant over-the-board tournaments, congresses, or leagues in the UK, and barely a handful of functioning clubs.
In contrast, online chess is booming as never before. Tens of thousands of eager players of all ages and strengths are launching their pawns forward on popular websites. As long as you are prepared to play at speed, with three to five minutes for all your moves plus an optional few seconds per move increment, you can find a suitable opponent very quickly.
It is even more a golden age for watching the great masters, not least Norway’s world champion Magnus Carlsen, in action. Every move is explained by computer engines and expert human commentators. Thus in a painless way you can absorb valuable lessons and improve your own game.
In my experience, the most user-friendly playing site is lichess where you just click on Create a Game, choose your time limit, and you are away.
For watching Carlsen and the other stars, go to chess24, where on Tuesday the champion beat America's Wesley So 5.5-3.5 in another final.
For the latest chess news and games, go to chess.com and its news pages.
White (to move) looked in dire straits in this 1985 Russian game. Black has sacrificed his queen to create the crushing threat of mate in two by Rh5+ Qh3 Rxh3 mate. How did White turn the tables and win?
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