FIDE Hybrid Tournament - A New Way to Play Chess FM Kevin Pan

The unique aspect of chess is its indifference to whoever sits on either side of the board. Age, nationality, and race all don’t matter… Once we are in front of the sixty-four black and white squares, we have this universal language to “speak” with one another. Even when playing someone from across the world who converses in a completely different language, we can still communicate through the chessboard. Of the hundreds of tournaments I’ve played in, the international tournaments have always been the most exciting. On top of having the opportunity to compete with different people, experiencing the culture and attractions of the city adds to these trips.

GM James Tarjan as my opponent

Me with British Champion GM David Howell

Unfortunately, the pandemic hit last year, stripping away world wide travel and in person tournaments. Purely online tournaments quickly filled the void, but the lack of any in person interaction creates an entirely different environment from traditional tournaments. However, every challenge comes with a new opportunity! While online tournaments were mostly lacking and OTB tournaments became rare, FIDE (International Chess Federation) recently came up with a creative solution. In January 2021, FIDE approved hybrid competitions valid for rating. “A hybrid tournament is one where the games are played online, but the participants are physically present in a public place like a club, federation headquarters, hotel, etc. In this format, all games are played under the supervision of an arbiter present on site. With these conditions being met, such hybrid events are officially rated in equal terms with traditional tournaments.”1 Pacific Northwest Chess Center (PNWCC), one of the most innovative and rising chess clubs in the US gaining a lot of popularity over the pandemic, swiftly caught on to this opportunity. Since May 2021, they have organized ten FIDE hybrid tournaments where players from the U.S. team up and challenge strong players from Europe in a team setting. The series started with a small team of two players from Redmond, Washington vs. a small team from Moscow, Russia. With the help of chess advocates in San Francisco, the event was brought to the Bay Area in August. Starting in September, more sites in North America have joined including Minnesota, Houston and Canada! The opposing teams have also been more diverse, coming from Russia, Serbia, Bulgaria, and more. Although it is still impossible to physically experience the culture of these countries, connecting through chess is the next best thing.

View from the Serbian site. PC Aleksandar Delchev

View from the Canadian site. PC Joe Roback

One thing that has always been controversial about online chess is the concerns about fair play and anti-cheating. The unique feature about the FIDE Hybrid events – you don’t need to worry about it! All sites are being carefully monitored on site by reputable FIDE Arbiters. Take the Bay Area as an example, our International Arbiter Mr. Tom Langland is a member of USCF Fide Events Committee, USCF Ethics Committee, and the USCF Fair Play Committee. He also conveniently holds a degree in Statistics. With Tom overseeing the events, all minds are at ease knowing the players are playing under his experienced direction.

Bayarea Playing Venue

International Arbiter Tom Langland hard at work!

Now onto some serious chess. Over the weekend of September 18th and 19th, I participated in the Fide hybrid tournament with four other players in the Bay Area and one more from Minnesota. Our opponents were a team from Pirot, Serbia with an average rating of 2180, while our average rating was 2165. We expected a tight match!

After four rounds over two days, the US team won the match with 17:7. Three of my teammates, Arun Dixit, Abhinav Penagalapati, and Jayden Xu would share the biggest upset prize as they all triumphed over opponents rated almost 250 points higher. My best game is the one I played in round 2 against Branimir Maksimovic [2301]. I was sure I was losing at move 11, yet I managed to maintain my composure and the position and get the win.

[Event "Fide Hybrid"]

[Site ""]

[Date "2021.09.18"]

[Round "?"]

[White "Branimir Maksimovic"]

[Black "Kevin Pan"]

[Result "0-1"]

[ECO "C50"]

[Annotator "Kevin Pan"]

[WhiteElo "2300"]

[BlackElo "2250"]

[PlyCount "78"]

[EventDate "2021.??.??"]

[TimeControl "5400+30"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. O-O Nf6 5. d4 Bxd4 6. Nxd4 Nxd4 7. Bg5 h6 8.

Bh4 g5 {Didn't see this coming at all...} 9. f4 $1 d5 (9... gxf4 10. Rxf4 exf4

11. Qxd4 {Bxf6 is coming and black is lost}) 10. exd5 Bg4 11. Qe1 Qe7 {This

move gives me the chance to get back into the game} 12. d6 $2 (12. fxg5 O-O-O

13. gxf6 Qc5 14. Qf2 Qxc4 15. Nc3 $18) 12... Qxd6 13. fxe5 Qc5 14. exf6+ {

Countering the check with a double check} Ne2+ $1 15. Kh1 Qxc4 16. Na3 Qc6 (

16... Qe4 17. Bg3 O-O-O $19) {Missed this threatening Qe7#} 17. Qb4 Qe6 18. Nb5

O-O-O 19. Nxa7+ Kb8 20. Bf2 Bh3 $1 21. Rg1 (21. Rad1 Rxd1 22. Rxd1 Nf4 23. gxh3

Qe2 24. Nc6+ Kc8 25. Na7+ Kb8 $11) 21... Nxg1 22. Kxg1 Bf5 23. Nb5 Rd7 24. Nd4

Qxf6 25. Rf1 {We both have less than 5 minutes now...} Rhd8 $4 (25... Bg6 26.

Nb5 Qa6) 26. Nxf5 Rd1 27. Qa5 $4 b6 28. Qb5 {Exchanging blunders...} R1d5 $2

29. Qe2 Rxf5 30. Re1 Rfd5 31. Bg3 Rd2 32. Qe7 Qc6 33. Re2 Rd1+ 34. Kf2 R8d2 35.

c3 Rxe2+ 36. Kxe2 Rd7 37. Qf8+ Kb7 38. Kf1 Qc4+ 39. Ke1 Qe4+ 0-1

And here is another exciting game by my friend FM Eric Li. He beat IM Nenad Ristic who is super strong in calculation and has been playing this opening (“Volga”) for his life!

[Event "Fide Hybrid"]

[Site ""]

[Date "2021.09.18"]

[Round "?"]

[White "Li, Eric"]

[Black "Ristic, Nenad"]

[Result "1-0"]

[ECO "A58"]

[Annotator "Eric Li"]

[PlyCount "97"]

[EventDate "2021.??.??"]

[TimeControl "5400+30"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 b5 {my opponent- Im - very strong in calculation and

he is playing Volga all his life and Ihis choice was predicted.} 4. cxb5 a6 5.

bxa6 $1 {this is the most principal .} g6 $1 (5... Bxa6 {the old line which

now is out of fashoin as white gets small and long term advantage after the

natural moves} 6. Nc3 g6 7. e4 Bxf1 8. Kxf1 d6 9. Nf3 Nbd7 10. g3 Bg7 11. Kg2

O-O 12. Re1 Nb6 13. a4 $1 {basic idea to block the pressure on the open files}

(13. Qe2 Na4 $1) 13... Nfd7 14. Bf4 Nc4 15. Qe2 Ndb6 16. e5 Qd7 17. Rad1 {

game Navara - Vaiser from the recent European club cup, in which white won

after the brilliant combination} Na5 18. h4 Nxa4 19. Nxa4 Qxa4 20. exd6 exd6

21. Bxd6 Rfe8 22. Ra1 $3 {and black was soon lost} Qd7 23. Rxa5) 6. Nc3 Bg7 7.

e4 O-O 8. Be2 $1 {key move , which prepares the foillowing attacking idea} Qa5

(8... d6 9. a7 Rxa7 10. Nf3 Ba6 11. O-O Nbd7 12. a4 Qa8 13. Ra3 Rb8 14. Nb5

Rab7 15. Qc2) (8... Bxa6 9. Nf3 d6 10. O-O Qb6 11. Re1 Nbd7 12. a4 Rfb8 13. Ra3

Ne8 14. Bxa6 Rxa6 15. Re2 Nc7 16. Bg5 Bxc3 17. Rxc3 f6 18. Bc1 Qb4 19. Ra3 Rba8

20. Bd2 Qxb2 21. Rb3 Qa2 22. a5) 9. Bd2 Bxa6 10. e5 $1 (10. Nf3 Bxe2 11. Qxe2

Qa6) 10... Ne8 11. Nf3 d6 (11... Bxe2 12. Qxe2 Qa6 13. Nb5 $1 Qb7 14. a4 Qxd5

15. O-O Na6 16. h4 Nec7 17. h5) 12. e6 $1 {the point of white.,s previous play}

fxe6 $6 (12... Bxe2 13. exf7+ (13. Qxe2 Qa6 $1) 13... Rxf7 14. Qxe2 Qa6 15. Ng5

{with the better endgame for white}) 13. Ng5 Bxe2 (13... Nc7 14. Nb5) (13...

Bc8 14. h4 Qb4 15. h5 Qd4 16. Bf3 e5 17. hxg6 hxg6 18. Qc1 Na6 19. Be3 Qd3 20.

a3 Rxf3 21. gxf3 Nac7 22. Qd1 Qc4 23. Nge4 Rb8 24. Rb1 Nf6 25. b3 Qa6 26. Bg5)

14. Qxe2 e5 {black is strategically lost , but there was just no other rmove} (

14... Nc7 15. Nxe6 Rf5 16. Nxg7 Re5 17. Ne4 Qa4 18. f3 Nxd5 19. Bh6 Qb4+ 20.

Qd2 Nc6 21. Qxb4 Ndxb4 22. O-O) 15. h4 (15. O-O Nd7 16. Ne6 Rf5 17. a4 Nf8 18.

Nxg7 Nxg7 19. Rfb1 Rf7 20. g4) 15... Nf6 16. Ne6 (16. h5 Qa6 17. Nb5 Nxd5 (

17... Qc8 18. hxg6 hxg6 19. Ne6 Rf7 20. Qd3 e4 21. Qg3) 18. hxg6 hxg6 19. Qd3

Nf6 20. Qxg6 Qxb5 21. Rh7 Ne8 22. Rh8+) 16... Rf7 17. Ng5 (17. h5 gxh5 (17...

Qa6 18. Nb5 Nxd5 19. hxg6) 18. Rxh5 Qa6 19. Rh4) 17... Rf8 18. h5 Qa6 (18...

Nxh5 19. Rxh5 gxh5 20. Qxh5 h6 21. Ne6 Rf7 22. O-O-O $18) 19. Qf3 (19. Nb5 {

what I missed was very nice mating combination} Qb7 20. hxg6 hxg6 21. Qd3 c4 (

21... e4 22. Qh3) 22. Qxg6 Qxb5 23. Rh7 Ne8 24. Rh8+ $1) 19... gxh5 $2 (19...

e4 20. Qh3 Nxh5 21. Qe6+ Kh8 22. Rxh5) 20. Ne6 Rf7 (20... Nbd7) 21. Nc7 (21.

Rxh5) 21... Qb7 22. Nxa8 Nbd7 (22... Ng4 23. Qg3 Na6) 23. Qh3 Qxa8 24. O-O Nb6

25. Bg5 (25. a4 Nbxd5 26. a5) 25... Nbxd5 26. Bxf6 Nf4 27. Qf3 Qxf3 28. gxf3

exf6 29. Rfd1 Bf8 30. a4 Ne6 31. a5 (31. Nb5 Rb7 32. Nxd6 Ra7 33. Nb5) 31...

Ra7 32. a6 Nc7 33. Nd5 Nxa6 34. Kh1 (34. Nxf6+ Kf7 35. Nd5 Ra8 (35... Ke6 36.

Kh1) 36. Kh1 Be7 37. Nb6 Ra7 38. Ra4 Ke6 39. Rda1) 34... Kf7 35. Ra3 Ke6 36.

Rxa6 (36. Nb6 d5 37. Rda1) 36... Rxa6 37. Nc7+ Kd7 38. Nxa6 Kc6 39. Ra1 (39. b4

c4 40. b5+ Kxb5 41. Nc7+ Kc6 42. Nd5 Bh6 43. Nxf6 c3 44. Nd5 Bd2 45. Nxc3 Bxc3

46. Rc1) 39... d5 40. b3 Bd6 41. Kg2 f5 (41... Kb5 42. Kh3 d4 43. Kh4 c4 44.

bxc4+ Kxc4 45. Rc1+ Kd3 46. f4 Ke2 47. Rc6 Ba3) 42. Rh1 Kb5 43. Rxh5 Kxa6 44.

Rh6 Kb5 45. Rxd6 d4 46. Rd5 e4 47. Rxf5 d3 48. fxe4 Kb4 49. Rd5 {ECC_ELI won

by resignation} 1-0

Overall it was a nice experience. I had the opportunity to play with strong opponents from another continent without the need to worry about flights, hotels, and jet lag. I can “talk” with my much more experienced opponents over our moves. I would recommend this event to all who choose to enjoy connecting and competing with fellow chess players from across the world . A huge thank to PNWC, Xuhao He (president of PNWCC), Bay Area Chess, Dr. Salman Azhar, International ArbiterTom Langland, long time chess advocate and coach Chris Torres, and many others for their tireless efforts to promote chess and bringing these rewarding events to us!

The strong showing by the US players motivated the Serbia chess community. After losing the first encounter, Serbia proceeded to field a team with even stronger players and they have now been on a winning streak with 3 wins in a row! For those strong US players out there, you should seriously consider joining us for a cordial race with our new friends from Serbia!

For future such events please check out or contact Bay Area Chess


1: “FIDE approves hybrid competitions valid for rating”,