Team Building via Chess

One of the things I really love about working at Influx Data is the strong social focus for employees. We’re all remote workers, and the teams have strategies to enable us to connect better. One of those ways is via Chess Tournaments!

I haven’t played chess for 20 years or more, and was never really any good at it. I know the basic moves, and can sustain a game, but I’m not a chess strategy guru, and don’t know all the best plays.

So I was somewhat cautious about putting my name in the hat for the (entirely optional) Influx Data chess tournament this month. However, I did, and I’m so glad I decided to.

First of all I was invited to join a #Chess slack channel - we have channels for everything inluding pets (pictures of cats and dogs feature heavily here), pits (pictures of ribs, smokers and recipies are strong here) and #mad_props where people call out the great work of their team mates.

I then signed up to and played a couple of practice games. I was super rusty though, and didn’t do well.

The “Chexperts” (sorry) in the company ran a few training sessions over Zoom where they talked us through some opening moves, strategies and pitfalls. I learned more about chess in those sessions than I expected. I’m still terrible at it though.

In the tournament, I was matched up with someone - Pat - who works in another part of the company. I used to work with Pat at Canonical, conveniently. We’re apparently at a similar level - both terribad at Chess. We played two “10 min” games, one playing as black, and the other as white.

I joined a Zoom call at the pre-arranged time, and played my two games against Pat. The best part about this, the Chexpert, Steven - live streams it to the rest of the company on Twitch, with commentary and analysis! This I found super hilarious. While we were playing, I was seeing words of encouragement from the spectators on my team in the Slack channel. It was so much fun!

Want to see how I did? Well, the video has been kindly archived along with the other matches, along with Steven’s commentary, over on YouTube! Check it out here, or embedded below.

Yes, I suck at this game. But it doesn’t matter, because I really enjoyed it, and found it a really great way to increase my Chess skills, while engaging with my new friends at Influx.