COVID Precautions Version 1 – May 2021

This document will be updated following further review and input. Organisers should consult the version current on the website at the time of organising an event.

As we continue along the Welsh Government’s relaxation of restrictions, chess players are looking forward to over-the-board play once again, and organisers for clubs, leagues and events will be considering when to open up, what type of events to run, and what precautions to take.

It is the responsibility of the WCU to tell clubs and organisers that there is an absolute requirement for us all to follow Welsh Government regulations and the legal requirements that are in force for both players and spectators. Organisers also have to be wary of the different rules in place for adult and junior events.

The WCU has been in close contact with the Welsh Sports Association throughout this process and can now offer the following guidelines for organisers of events.

Wales is currently under Level 3 restrictions with a possibility of moving to Level 2 shortly. UNDER LEVELS 4, 3 and 2 NO INDOOR ACTIVITIES ARE ALLOWED WHERE PARTICIPANTS ARE CLOSELY FACING EACH OTHER FOR ANY PERIOD OF TIME. This means that chess clubs (where participants are from different households/bubbles) cannot reopen at this time as events cannot take place indoors.

Given the above, we look forward to a time when we will be able to reopen clubs and hold events and below have set out good practice COVID precautions which organisers / club officials may want to consider in making their decisions. The list of precautions is very much a draft list pending more detailed guidance from WG on what precautions will still be required once indoor organised activities can take place face to face (F2F). We will reference any more detailed WG guidance as this becomes available and we expect to update the precautions list accordingly. Also please remember this list is not exhaustive and, depending upon the venue and event being envisaged, there may be other things to consider.

As ever, clubs, league or event organisers will need to make their own decisions based on their particular circumstances, the type of events being envisaged and the player groups involved.

However, organisers and club officials should also bear in mind they WILL be held responsible for any gathering that contravenes the law and, should it be deemed to disregard the regulations, or be reckless, it is the ORGANISER who will be held responsible. This could mean a fine or a criminal conviction.

Planning and formats

For all events (this includes club meetings and league matches) a risk assessment must be carried out, recorded, and kept up to date. Clubs and WCU events are insured under the WCU Policy. Our insurers require each club and organisers of events to undertake a WRITTEN risk assessment, submit it to the WCU for approval and not open until this approval is given. To open before this invalidates the insurance for that club and thus, any activity would not be covered by the WCU Insurance Policy. To repeat what is stated above it is the individual organiser who will be held responsible should an activity be deemed to be against COVID regulations.

An example of a risk assessment can be found here but it must be remembered this is only an example and every premises/event will have different risks which must be considered.

A blank word template can be found here which can be completed. Consider getting medical advice (from a doctor and NOT a Health visitor) which can be included in the risk assessment.

(When outdoor events opened enforcement officers made “spot checks” on events and would have expected to see the risk assessment)

Completed Risk Assessments should be sent to and the Welsh Chess Union will evaluate these as soon as possible. The earlier these are received the quicker we will be able to respond. (If all clubs submit their risk assessments at the same time it is likely there will be a delay).

Venues and formats

Consider the scale of the event and number of players to be accommodated at each venue. Ensure that any limit on the numbers in operation at the time, either given by the WG or by the venue are observed. Remember the number allowed includes organisers but does not include children aged under 11.

Remember that a space is defined as being enclosed by walls (i.e., if you are in a Sports Hall with a curtain across the middle the whole hall is still one space)

The room must be well ventilated (air conditioning, which only recirculates air within the room or building, is not deemed appropriate for this purpose).

If you are organising a congress, you can reduce the number of players in each section so that players stay within a smaller group/bubble at the venue.

Are smaller ‘All Play All’ competitions appropriate given the potential to maintain smaller groups and reduce mixing? This is an option that organisers will need to consider.

For large events, organisers could consider multiple locations in a ‘campus’ format or separate areas within a venue.

Consider if a hybrid competition could work for team events to avoid travel by the opposing team.

Consider shorter chess game time limits, while possibly still enabling players to have their matches rated full at the relevant time control but reducing the period of contact time.

Managing different groups

Consider excluding spectators from the chess playing area.

Consider separation of parents from players and waiting area arrangements for junior events.

Playing conditions

Consider arrangements for player separation (2 metres apart in all directions) within the playing area. The suggestion made is that a square 3m x 3m (so 9 m2) per player should be best practice.

Ensure that social distancing will apply throughout the event. This applies to everyone in the room whether playing or not.

Players may be required to wear a face covering, depending on the WG’s directives at the time.

If a WG requirement, arrange for a supply of disposable masks to be available at the venue and playing area.

Ensure good hand hygiene.

Ensure cleaning of shared equipment between sessions / games.

Arrangements prior to arrival at the event


Communicate the precautions in place, so attendees fully understand the risks involved.

Contact entrants in advance with clear instructions for players to reduce the need to communicate/mix on the day and to reduce the time spent congregating e.g. at notice boards.

Keep a register of players/spectators attending the chess venue so that this data can be available to support NHS track and trace if necessary.

Entry controls

Consider asking players to take a test prior to leaving home or supply testing kits at the club for use on entry.
Note – test kits for those with no Coronavirus symptoms (lateral flow) are provided by the Welsh Government for free

Ask players to confirm that they are COVID-free, as far as they are aware, as a basis for attending the event and have no recent symptoms of the virus. Possibly also make an announcement at the start of each session, asking people who have symptoms or are not willing to abide by the conditions to leave.

Do NOT ask players to take a temperature check on arrival before being admitted to the building.
Try to stagger arrivals and departures to avoid bottlenecks in entrance ways/exit routes.

Spectators and waiting areas

Consider limiting or excluding spectators to minimise the number of contacts.

Review on-site arrangements for waiting rooms and segregation of parents for junior events.

Preparing the playing room and equipment

Room and equipment layouts

Consider making signage available at the venue to explain the precautions in place and remind players of the symptoms of the virus.

Limit the number of tables in the room to ensure there is legal spacing between boards.

Is the use of larger than normal tables a possibility?

Consider lateral separation with the next board, with each table accommodating fewer boards than usual.

Sets and clocks are to be laid out at the start of each session using gloves, and not moved unnecessarily until the playing session has ended.

Encourage players not to move furniture unnecessarily during the playing session.

Hygiene and ventilation

Arrange for all tables/chairs/chess pieces and equipment to be cleansed and sanitized prior to the event and between games/sessions.

Consider separate cleaning stations on entry to the venue and the playing area(s), particularly for larger venues.

Consider providing an alcohol-based hand sanitiser and encourage players to use it on entry to the playing area and before and after games and also at the board to reduce the risk of contact transmission.

Catering and facilities

Catering – it is safer for players to bring their own snacks and drink. Clubs should consider providing disposable paper cups.

Toilets – is there hot water and a supply of disposable paper towels available? Consider and plan to avoid queuing at the toilets.

Queueing – ensure players know they should maintain social distancing if they have to queue during the event.

Chess playing arrangements

As with other measures, the chess playing arrangements need to be considered in the context of the type of event and the player group taking part.

Provide disposable masks for players for use on entry to the venue or playing area and during play.

Where there is felt to be a particular risk or concern, consider whether each player should have their own chess set with only a shared clock and moves made in parallel on the two boards (either by calling out the moves or watching your opponent’s board). Additional time should be added per move to make this easier to implement.

Look at arrangements for hand sanitisation before and after games to reduce contact risk.

Other items to consider

Make sure you are aware of and are compliant with any rules laid down by venue owners at all times
Check hire agreements to ensure you know what the cleaning implications are – is the group responsible for cleaning all surfaces in the room after use?

Wider implications of re-opening

What proportion of players will want to return immediately to playing face to face and how can this be accommodated in your re-opening plans or planning for events?

Should your club be open to all players from day one, and what will that result be if too many players turn up? Perhaps you might consider advance booking or some form of staggered sessions.

A proportion of players will want to continue playing online, at least for a period and maybe indefinitely. Online also offers opportunities for attracting new players to participate in the club. Consider running competitions with games played simultaneously in the club and online or with a hybrid format or otherwise linking online and over-the-board competitions.

Does your club have an action plan in place to enable it to respond quickly if there is a temporary return to restrictions or lockdown?

If you require further advice please contact or