How this pub organized 60+ chess tournaments.
Every Wednesday, one pub in Poznan hosts a chess tournament.
They have now conducted over 60 such events.
But when they started in June 2021, they had no experience or expertise in organizing a chess tournament.
All they had was an idea from which the players, the pub, and chess benefit.
We sat down with Mateusz Małaczek, one of the main organizers of the tournament, for a chat.
Mateusz Małaczek – Having a good time organizing the tournament.
“I’m a chess player and have a rating of about 2000. I also work as a Java developer. But I have never been a chess arbiter or anything like that.”
Mateusz explains how it all started.
“Two of my friends, Maciej and Jakub, own a pub in Poznan. We talked many times that we should try to organize a chess meeting in this pub. That’s because one of the friends who runs this pub is a chess fan. He has no rating, but he likes to play online.”
The friends decided to go forward with this idea. That’s how the tournament started, and they named it after the bar...
“Pomysł – It translates to ‘The idea’ in English.”
They had a place to host the tournament, but there were challenges too.
This is one of the organizer's main challenges.
“When we started this tournament, we had only amateurs, who had no rating.”
“Then we decided to do something like the Grand Prix and add prizes.”
It turned out to be a great move.
“Now, I would say half the people have ratings. Sometimes, even players with titles like IM or FM participate.”
“You need to pay a 10zł (2 EUR) entry fee to play. And 100% of this fee goes to the prizes.”
So if everything goes to the prize fund, one might wonder how Mateusz and his team gain by organizing the tournament.
“Some people come to this bar and buy beer, coffee, or something they want.”
And that’s how they benefit. But there’s something far more powerful and satisfying for Mateusz to conduct such a tournament, which is revealed later.
Knowing how many people the bar can accommodate answers this question.
“34 is the maximum number of players who can play because there’s not more space than that. And generally, we have 20-30 players at the tournament. So we have 15 boards and 15 clocks at the bar itself.”
“An hour before the tournament starts, we prepare everything.”
You can find more tips on this in the article on preparing a chess tournament.
But without an experienced arbiter, one challenge remains – how to create chess pairings when you don’t have the expertise.
Mateusz knew about our pairing software since he was a player.
“I knew about ChessManager as a player because many tournaments were organized using it.”
However, Mateusz tested and compared ChessManager with another popular software for creating chess pairings before deciding.
“I was sitting with Maciej (not the pub owner, but the co-founder of ChessManager). And we decided to perform some tests.”
“We chose a random tournament with players, some time control, and rounds. Then we prepared to see how we can set them up on ChessManager and other chess software used for pairings.”
“Maciej started the stopwatch to check how much time it takes me to create some random tournaments.”
“Remember, I was a player, not an arbiter. And also, I was using both programs for the first time in my life.”
“And the difference was huge! It was not only the time difference but also the intuitiveness and the clarity. ChessManager was easier and faster.”
This is what Mateusz found.
“The other program had many icons. You needed to find out which one was doing what. ChessManager was much more intuitive.”
“So when I started with the idea of organizing chess tournaments, I knew I was going to choose ChessManager for pairings because it was easier to learn and also faster.”
There’s also another reason that bolstered Mateusz’s conviction.
For this, Mateusz put himself in the players' shoes.
“As a player, I always liked ChessManager much more because it looks more modern and is easier to navigate. That’s important because there are a lot of players in our tournaments who’ve never played tournaments before.”
“They’ve never used any chess program to check pairings or anything. So they need a simple program, which is easier to navigate through.”
Pairings are displayed on the projector.
Mateusz also recalls when he had to face unexpected problems.
“One day, there was a problem because I couldn't create pairings on my laptop.”
The tournament continued, and Mateusz had to find another way.
“So I just took my phone, went upstairs to write the results and created pairings using ChessManager for another round. It was very convenient, and you don’t need to rely on one device.”
Mateusz and his friends have come a long way.
Every Wednesday since June 2021, they’ve been hosting this tournament without taking a break. Mateusz knew, at times, it was harder for him to be at the pub.
“Sometimes I'm tired or just want to stay home.”
“That’s also where ChessManager helps. It’s so easy to learn that some of my friends from the bar can cover for me when I can't be there.”
“By observing me, it’s helping them to learn how to do it by themselves. So it's easy even for people like them (with no rating).”
For Mateusz, this is where he gets his greatest joy from.
“Creating a community that meets weekly because of this tournament is pretty special.”
“And showing chess to so many people, giving this opportunity to popularize chess.”
“Many who never participated in professional tournaments get this opportunity to play. So it's also something unique.”
“Also, we connect some things like chess and the bar. It looks like they can’t match together. But it works very well.”
Editor’s Note: Thank you for reading!
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