Third Annual Lichess Meetup and Hackathon

A round up and summary of the third annual Lichess meetup, hackathon, and chess tournament

From the 14th to 18th February, 12 Lichess developers and staff members met up in Oslo, Norway (not Minnesota). With five nations represented, it was great to meet each other in person while discussing future Lichess challenges and developing new fixes. There were also plenty of opportunities to play lots of chess, with bughouse becoming the most played variant amongst the Lichess team in breaks between other work.

GM Magnus Carlsen v Prune2000

The highlight of the weekend was an over the board 7-round Swiss tournament, in the blitz 5+0 time control, held at the Sjakklubben Stjernen, one of several chess clubs in Oslo. A surprise visitor was the current World Champion, Magnus Carlsen, who faced down strong opposition to secure first place. Titled competitors included GM Frode Urkedal, FM Anders Hobber, FM Inge Skrondal, and FM Alexander Pena-Riascos, as well as (and not least) two LMs - Askild Bryn, and Asbjørn Steinskog. In total, the top 10 boards had an average rating of 2258, making this a fiercely fought blitz tournament.

For the top 3 boards, prizes were offered in the form of Lichess swag, so well done to 1st: GM Magnus Carlsen (7/7); 2nd: GM Frode Urkedal (6/7); and 3rd: Francisco Gonzales (5/7), as well as every other participant. Full results can be found here.

The Lichess OTB blitz tournament had excellent turn out.

On the left hand side, from foreground to background: revoof, MagicAndy (versus Assios), Cynosure, Aliquantus.

Competitors tackling it out.

The Lichess team had the opportunity to be soundly beaten by the chess community of Oslo.

During the weekend, a number of projects were worked on, covering fixes that might not be immediately noticeable or detectable, projects that may never see the light of day, and looking at future challenges and issues with lichess.

  • veloce worked on a new Android update for the mobile app, which will include some offline functionality for training puzzles. Initially, 50 puzzles would be stored offline, but this could be extended in the future.
  • Lukhas improved backups and anti-cheating reliability, as well as other mysterious sysadmin work.
  • arex made several improvements to Practice. Among them, many exercises now have a link that shows the master game in which the position was taken from. He even streamed some of his thoughts early in the process.
  • MagicAndy went on a moderation queue spree, checking potential cheating games as well as offensive communications.
  • bufferunderun made some bugfixes for IE11, but the less said about this the better.
  • revoofalso made some bugfixes for IE11, and also did some super secret developer work that shouldn't be mentioned.

Some of the lichess team enjoying aperitifs and appetisers (left to right, clockwise): arex, Cynosure, MagicAndy, Assios, the back of Prune2000's head, the back of revoof's head.

  • Assios handled emails, the Lichess social media accounts, handled the prizegiving, and gave a lovely speech at Sjakkluben Stjernen. Assios also designed the new prize pool to be used in the next Titled Arena.
  • ProgramFOX worked on Study improvements, namely allowing markdown links to appear in studies. He also achieved two draws with Magnus in the atomic variant, over the board.
  • Prune2000was the "mother-duck" guiding all the Lichess ducklings across Oslo and being an excellent tour guide. Prune organised office space over the weekend, without which the meetup would have been very difficult to arrange, as well as organising the blitz tournament, and working alongside Assios.
  • Cynosure continued looking into data protection obligations for Lichess under EU regulations, so that the site receives no nasty surprises in May, as well as investigating legal streaming obligations, with the help of the rest of the team.
  • Aliquantus did some work on the moderation queue, but had to prepare to defend his PhD thesis - the entire Lichess team wishes him all the best and good luck with it.

Playing bughouse on the last night.

The team also updated the about page, as well as developing a press kit, to help Lichess staff handle the most common requests for information, and to share with the media.

Some general statistics from the meetup include:

  • Chefs: French 89% of the time, UK 11% of the time (ed. note, although food prep - peeling, slicing, dicing, grating, and washing was a nationality-blind group effort.)

French style roast chicken

  • Slipping in the snow: UK = 8 (ed. note, even more worryingly this was just one individual), rest of team (French, Norwegian, Belgian, Swedish, German) = 0
  • Queens blundered against World Champion: French 100% (1 queen: game here)
  • Music choice: 82% of the time some variation of "Lo-fi hip hop instrumental chill", 8% of the time 80s music, 7% experimental/other, 3% of the time classical.
  • Most Grandiosa pizza eaten by nationality: 100% Norwegian. (ed. note, some of the Norwegians requested it be noted this was mainly 2 of the 3 Norwegians present)

Farewell drinks

As in previous years, the meetup was a considerable success. Meeting and putting faces to names and online handles is always a fun occasion, and as with previous occasions productivity was bolstered by sharing the same office space. Meeting the great chess community and being able to host an over the board tournament was incredibly enjoyable for the entire team, in what the team are quickly referring to as "IRLichess". It is a tradition we hope to continue in the future, and for our next meetup - although we may aim for warmer weather next time! (Maybe the Gibraltar Open?)

The last chess game (for now), played in Oslo airport

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