Sunday, October 21, 2012

Chess in the Future?

This weekend I was fortunate enough to be involved in a chess tournament with a massive amount of technology. Chesskids organised a Victorian Youth Championship which was held at Swinburne University's new KIOSC building, a state of the art technology centre. The tournament was for kids below 15, but it was envisaged as an elite junior event as chesskids already runs a number of tournaments for players who are new to tournament chess, or have little experience.

Interactive Touch Screens
While the kids were playing in near by classrooms (large laboratory style spaces, with lots of natural light) the main hub area of the event was a room with amazing facilities, including touch screen monitors, and computer  to wall display projectors. Thus we were able to link the touch screens to interactive chess sites, such as chesstempo, promoting self improvement plans to kids and parents.

Projected Wall Displays

Live Commentary with IM Robert Jamieson
Projecting computer screens on to the wall allowed us to commentate on games, give lessons to kids and parents, and follow the action live as it was happening. Yes, I do mean live, and this was because of another innovation. Chesskids have developed their own tournament management software, tornelo. Tornelo is more than just a pairings program. It processes tournament entries, acts as a pairing program and allows for games to be entered and stored. This last facility was the big one for me this weekend. With the support of Swinburne University, we had the use of a number of Ipads which the kids used as score sheets to record their games. This meant that we saw the moves as they were being made (and some parents with their own laptops/Ipads were following their own kid's game).

Scoresheet of the Future

"Where's my Ipad?"

Some still preferred pen and paper
The significance of this technology has never been apparent to me. I guess I'm just too old to see the way these things work. Well, my eyes were opened this weekend. As I was commentating on some games it suddenly struck me that we were able to see games by players, some of whom are pre-school and who probably wouldn't be able to write their moves down. Wouldn't it have been amazing if this would have been  around to record the games of an infant Fischer, or Kasparov, and on the other hand, I also wondered whether we were recording the games of future Grand Masters?

Technology aside, this was still a kids chess tournament and all I saw was kids having fun, playing chess, socialising with friends and generally enjoying their competitive weekend. The results can all be found on the tornelo page, along with a database of over 200 games (check out the link at the top of the page). The winners of each section won $150 but more importantly, they each won a trophy!
Joint Winners of under 7's admiring their prizes!


  1. brilliant thinking
    brilliant concept
    brilliant journalistic awareness
    brilliant report

  2. So that's what an IPad looks like!!!