One rainy Sunday afternoon, the Brunei Chess Federation (BCF) hosted their New Year Blitz 2020. The first of many tournaments that BCF has lined up for 2020, last weekend saw people of all ages competing with each other.

Did you know that the game of chess is considered a sport? The almost completely silent battle of strategy and wits between two players can be intimidating to some. Perhaps, the game of chess is the quietest out of all the sports out there.

Photo: Sutera/Safwan Sulaiman

According to the Vice President of the Brunei Chess Federation, Pg Abdul Rahman, playing chess trains a player’s minds to think strategically, a skill that goes beyond the chessboard, thinking, planning, and strategising ahead of each move they make in the real world.

On 12th January 2020, with a handshake between each paired player and with a 3-minute time limit, the Swiss system 9 rounds tournament took off. Silence descended upon the room, where the only sound you could hear was the clicks as players tapped on the timer with each move; the dull thuds of chess pieces as they moved on the board or as they got killed amidst the humming of air-conditioners in the background.

Photo: Sutera/Safwan Sulaiman

The match varied with each pair, some had their opponents beaten under 3 minutes, while with others there was a flurry of continuous hand movement as chess pieces were constantly moved, each player fiercely trying to checkmate the other’s King.

Occasionally, when there were only a pair left to their silent battle, others would crowd around them, but even this is done quietly. The silence was only broken once the matches were over, only to renew with the start of a new round.

Photo: Sutera/Safwan Sulaiman

To close the event, the top three players in each category were awarded by the Vice President, Pg Abd Rahman, together with Tournament Director and FIDE Master, Muhammad Aliuddin bin Haji Azahari. There were five categories, Under 14, Under 16, Under 20, Over 50, and an Open Category, but as three of them focussed those under 20 years of age, there were a lot of youths participating in the Sunday’s tournament.

Left: Pg Abd Rahman, Right: Kyla
Photo: Sutera/Safwan Sulaiman

Kyla, one of the younger players for Sunday’s tournament said, “Chess has always been a hobby of mine. I started playing when I was in Year 6.” Even though she is only 15 years old, she has not only been actively joining the various chess tournaments hosted by the Brunei Chess Federation but has also been winning them. This time around, she won 2nd Place for the Under 16 category.

The New Year Blitz 2020 is only the first of the competitions that they have lined up this year. If you are interested in competing, you may want to pay the BCF a visit at the Brunei Chess Centre at the Brunei National Stadium, neighbouring the Tennis Court. Or, if you want to learn how to play, the Brunei Chess Federation is also offering lessons for free! For more information, you can contact Muhammad Aliuddin at +673 812 6037.

Photo: Sutera/Safwan Sulaiman