You can be the hero (part 2)


The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic highlights ordinary heroes. During the pandemic, staying home slows the spread of the coronavirus. Staying home is heroic! However, if you work in an essential business, going to work is an act of heroism. Without essential workers —such as first responders, hospital personnel, and grocery store employees — our lives would be in peril.

Rethinking heroism

In my first “You can be the hero” article, I wrote, “On a normal day, only my pet rabbit thinks I am the hero. I teach online for The University of Texas at Dallas and write articles, such as this one. During my work hours, my pet rabbit Denis and I sit in front of my laptop. I pet Denis and care for his every need, as he is elderly and infirm.” On March 2, when I wrote those sentences, I didn’t actually believe that staying home was heroic. I thought that my venturing away from home, to New York City to share chess in education methodology with teachers, was admirable. That article encouraged SparkChess readers to try new patterns.

Less than two months later, times have changed. My usual pattern of staying home with my rabbit is heroic. In contrast, traveling to New York City would be foolish. As I wrote in my most recent SparkChess article, physical isolation increases the time it takes for coronavirus cases to double. When caseloads grow more slowly, hospitals may not be overwhelmed with patients.

Chess in Isolation

Chess is a great way to pass the time when home alone. As is usual for me, I write chess articles (like this one), watch online chess broadcasts, and listen to chess podcasts. But since stay-at-home restrictions began, I have also played chess online, participated in a Zoom conference about chess, and downloaded free chess materials.

Saint Louis Chess Campus

The World Chess Hall of Fame and the Saint Louis Chess Club are keeping chess players like me entertained. Dr. Jeanne Cairns Sinquefield’s book Learn to Read & Write Chess is now available as a free download. Chess classes normally available only to Saint Louis Chess Club members in person are free to all viewers of the club’s YouTube and Twitch channels.

Chess Club Youtube Channel Image Friday Action Tactics
Friday Action Tactics on YouTube channel
Photos Courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club
Mechanics' Institute

The Saint Louis Chess Club is also challenging other clubs from around the country, to keep its members engaged and tactically sharp while keeping its fans’ interest too. On Wednesday, April 15th (at 5:30 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time/7:30 p.m. Central Daylight Time), the Saint Louis Chess Club will play The Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club. Eighteen players on each side will play a double round robin with a time control of G/20 +2. Follow the action at the Saint Louis Chess Club’s Twitch channel or at the Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club’s Twitch channel. I wrote about the Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club on Valentine’s Day.

Chess Problem

The Saint Louis Chess Club’s Facebook page posts weekly chess problems to solve. Here is its April 5th problem, with the hint of “Black to move, find the best continuation.”

chess diagram
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