Online Chess: ChessTech and BotezLive

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Up through November 30, you can get a free ticket to attend ChessTech2020, which happens December 5-6. From December 1, 2020 onwards, ChessTech2020 tickets will cost money. BotezLive is free to watch, 24/7, as the Twitch channel is either live or provides videos of past broadcasts. This article discusses how online chess players around the world can connect via ChessTech2020 and BotezLive.

ChessTech2020

ChessTech2020 is the online version of the London Chess Conference, which was held annually for the past seven years alongside the London Chess Classic. When that over-the-board tournament was canceled, the conference moved online and rebranded itself as ChessTech2020.

By November 26, 250 people had registered for the conference. Before December 1, there is an option to register for free and a second option, with special sessions and exclusive social networking, for £50.00. The ChessTech2020 website states that, on December 1 (in GMT, London time) and after, there will be no more free tickets.

As of November 28, the schedule for Sunday, December 6, has not been posted. However, the schedule for Saturday, December 5, is available. While Saturday’s topics are listed here, the countries and bios of the confirmed presenters are mostly not listed.

Here’s my list of Saturday’s confirmed presenters’ countries and bios, omitting links and countries where I wasn’t sure. My list is in the order that they appear in the conference schedule for Saturday, December 5:

For the above Saturday, December 5, schedule, I’ve omitted the presenters for the Spanish-language presentation, the French-language presentation, and the jurors for the Chess Start-up Business Pitch competition. The above-listed presenters are presenting in English.

A Twitch City

In an interview with Radio New Zealand, Woman FIDE Master Alexandra Botez, of BotezLive, said, “I would much rather lose a couple games here and there and make sure that I’m catching 80 percent, 90 percent of what’s going on in chat and focusing on the community aspect.

Alexandra Botez
Alexandra Botez

Along with her younger sister Andrea, 25-year-old Alexandra Botez has built BotezLive into its own city, population over 400,000, with the city’s citizens living in every part of the world. BotezLive had 406,814 followers as of November 3, 2020, with streams in the week prior averaging 4,108 viewers and hitting a peak of 22,231 viewers. Among all English-language Twitch streams, as of November 3, 2020, BotezLive is the 258th most-watched.

On BotezLive, chat is limited to followers, which provides a nominal level of Twitch Chat management. Sometimes, however, Alexandra has to put her foot down, was clear from this viral clip.

Put one’s foot down

In the clip, a Twitch follower asked Alexandra to show her feet. That’s an inappropriate request, and Alexandra responded by putting her foot down, figuratively speaking. In English, to put one’s foot down means to say firmly that someone must stop what they are doing. According to Armand Niculescu, the Chief Technical Officer of SparkChess / Media Division, the Romanian language has a similar expression, pune piciorul în prag (literally “put your foot on the doorstep”) with the same “be firm” meaning.

Alexandra’s reply was partly in English and partly in Romanian. Her statement in Romanian was “pleaca de aici, pleaca de aici! Iti trag una in cap daca ma mai intrebi o data!” This roughly translates as “go away, go away or I’ll smack you in the head if you ask me that again!”

Alexandra’s brief use of her parents’ native language, Romanian, helped build community among her Romanian fans, many of whom commented on Youtube about the clip. They mentioned their heritage and translated the clip for other BotezLive fans. Thus, putting her foot down helped build community, while also making it clear that harassment (the request to show feet) would not be tolerated.

Technology Connects Us

Connecting with chess players around the world via Zoom (ChessTech2020) or via Twitch (Botez Live) helps us learn and socialize. As the “put one’s foot down” anecdote illustrates, it’s important to respect each other online, just as we would do in person. While many online chess presenters speak in English, you can also find chess players speaking in Spanish, French, Romanian, and many other languages as well. Technology allows us to meet chess players from other countries. Perhaps, when the pandemic eases, we may even meet them in person.

WIM Alexey Root, PhD

Alexey Root is a Woman International Master and the 1989 U.S. Women's chess champion. Her peak US Chess rating was 2260. She has a PhD in education from UCLA. You can find her books on chess on Amazon.com.

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