Thursday, April 30

Statement About Swine Flu

The organizer of the CalChess Scholastics released the following statement about "swine flu" and this weekend's tournament. As long as the California health agencies do not restrict large public gatherings or close more schools, it is my personal belief that we must not cower in fear of the unknown. That said, I do expect some players to skip the tournament because of the perceived risk; each family must make their own decision.

"I want to first address concerns about swine flu. As an organizer, I take my cues from professionals, not from the media, and following the advice is to have hand sanitizer and avoid physical contact. I will have hand sanitizer available and you may bring some. I will also instruct the players not to shake hands (wave at their opponent as a courtesy) and to only use the pencils we use at the desk. The tournament directors and volunteers will also be using hand sanitizer regularly to avoid passing any virus. Finally, if you have any symptoms, please stay at home. That said, you have every right to make the best decision for your family and I respect will respect that." -- Salman Azhar


Unknown said...

There are many different flu viruses, and swine flu while emerging recently as a threat does not cause nearly as many deaths as the more common ones which regularly claim thousands of lives a year, and it seems to me that keeping the integrity of chess (i.e. shaking hands with opponents and not having competition driven out by fear) should not be compromised by something like this. For example, it is astronomically more likely for a player to die driving to the tournament than by catching swine flu. Should the state championship be restricted to those within walking distance? I think not.

Alan Naroditsky said...

Even so, I believe that since the threat of the swine flu is currently on the rise (and perfectly viable), it is prudent to limit oneself to waving instead of shaking hands. The chances of getting the flu are increased exponentially if one engages in physical contact such as shaking hands. Reducing the risk of dying while driving to the tournament is impossible, while reducing the risk of catching the swine flu IS possible.

Michael Aigner said...

There's no need to panic, but a few simple precautions can be taken. The danger with H1N1 swine flu is that none of us have immunity against it. If one kid who carries the virus (perhaps without knowing it) coughs a lot, then many others will be exposed and could get infected. Not everyone will get sick, but without immunity, the risks are much higher than normal flu. That's why several local schools have been shut down for a week and why public transit agencies such as BART have issued public advisories.

Fortunately, the H1N1 swine flu crisis appears to be leveling off. The weather around the world is getting warmer, which ends the flu season. Also, it doesn't appear that there are any severe side effect such as death, at least not outside of Mexico.

Let's be safe, but let's also have fun playing chess!

Chessmonster said...

The swine flu is a serious threat..this is no joke..

It doesn't matter if the kids shake hands or not if the kids are sharing the same set of chess pieces...chess pieces carry germs..are the chess sets going to be bout between rounds?..also huge group of kids from different areas in the same un-airconditioned room seems like an unnecessary risk.

I think it is irresponsible for the calchess board not to at least seriously consider postponing the tournament..I hope this is something they at least discussed.

Unknown said...

The numbers in this article provide some perspective:

I don't see any reason to postpone the tournament. It should go on as scheduled and I intend to participate. My child will shake hands if his opponent is willing to do so unless it is prohibited.

Michael Aigner said...

The Associated Press quotes President Obama:

President Obama noted Friday that it's not clear that the swine flu outbreak will turn out to be any worse than ordinary flu.

"It may turn out that H1N1 runs its course like ordinary flus, in which case we will have prepared and we won't need all these preparations," Obama said.