By Laura Doman
If you’ve attended any of the Georgia Open or Scholastic tournaments in the past few months, you may have noticed a little more excitement in the Skittles rooms. With the introduction of the DGT electronic chess boards – and a little help from our experienced friends from North Carolina – the Georgia Chess Association has been transmitting live games via the Internet and projecting them onto large screens in the Skittles rooms. In some cases, parents traveling halfway around the world have been able to watch their children’s competition in progress via the Internet. Best of all, these games have been captured electronically and are available for anyone to replay at any time by going to: www.chessstream.com.
So what is a DGT board? Made by the Digital Game Technology company, it is an electronic chess board that quickly and accurately senses the movement of the pieces and stores the game in the memory of the board during play in PGN format. Later, the games can be retrieved via a computer program or DGT chess clock. The e-board connects to the PC with either a USB cable or wirelessly via Bluetooth and serial tournament e-boards can be connected together in large numbers for use at tournaments.
The GCA uses the DGT LiveChess program running on a MS-Windows laptop. LiveChess is a Java app that communicates with DGT e-boards via USB cables with up to eight boards per computer. From Livechess, you can check the status of the boards, choose where the games will be written, how they will be labeled, and monitor the games being played in real time.
The Chessstream Server makes the games accessible to interested parties over the Internet. Via the administrator functions, the user can determine which games can be seen, choose what information is associated with each game, and set game results should LiveChess fail to capture this information accurately. Chessstream allows the introduction of a delay, expressed in number of moves, so that those outside the tournament hall cannot analyze the game in real time, preventing that information from being inadvertently relayed back to the participants.
Perhaps the most exciting aspect of the DGT e-board is the opportunity it gives people to watch an important game in progress. For Charles Troutman, Jr., it was a way to stay involved in his son Charles’ progress in the November Georgia Grade Level Tournament while half a world away on business:
“I recently returned from a business trip to India and I want to thank the GCA for providing me the opportunity to watch my 11 year old son play in the Georgia Grade Level Tournament real-time on Chessstream.com. Because India is 10 ½ hours ahead of Atlanta, I knew it would probably be Monday morning before I knew the results of Charles’ performance in the tournament. I arrived in India early Sunday morning around 3:00 a.m., which was 4:30 p.m. Saturday in Atlanta. I called Charles to wish him well in the tournament, which was scheduled for the next day in the US (Sunday). I had been to India earlier this year and Charles knew about the time zone difference between India and the US and that it would probably be after the tournament before he and I had a chance to speak on the phone again.
“I was preparing for Monday business meetings in Bangalore when I received the first text “Round 1 – won” from my wife Tiffiny at approximately 9:30 p.m Sunday night in India. One hour later I received the next text “Round 2 – won.” Charles had talked about wanting to do well in the tournament for months, and I regretted that I wasn’t there to help cheer on his attempt at a third grade level title. At 11:45 p.m. in India, I went to bed and attempted to get some sleep.
“At 12:30 a.m. Monday (India time) I received the third text from Tiffany, “Round 3 – won.” I knew I wouldn’t be able sleep and started working again, anxiously awaiting the next text. I received another text from Tiffiny and a member of the GCA that I could watch Charles’ 4th round game over the Internet live and I immediately logged onto the site that was provided. I was overjoyed to see Charles’ game being streamed live and watched every move closely. It was close to 3 a.m. in India when the game ended in a draw and I texted Tiffiny to let her know that I had watched every move and was very proud of the way Charles played. She said that Charles was beside her and he read the text and that he was very happy that I was able to watch the game.
“It is great that the GCA provides me, other parents, and all followers this avenue to watch games when we cannot be there in person. Please pass my thanks and gratitude to Dr. Fong and the entire GCA family. Because of the insight and determination to expand the ability to view the games live through use of the internet, I was able to watch Charles play in the tournament from over 9000 miles away! It was great.”
Charles Troutman III won the 2014 Georgia 6th Grade Championship. What a treat that his father was able to watch him play all the way from India!
The GCA plans to use the DGT e-boards as much as possible, especially for matches played by the top boards in the top tournament sections. The technology provides an excellent means to bring exciting games live to observers everywhere and a learning opportunity for those interested in reviewing important games later at their leisure.
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