Board Game: OTB vs Online

Board Game: OTB vs Online

Xilin Chen, Writer

Board games are games that were invented to be played on a board, like chess and Go, yet the modern-day board games are not only limited to the physical board. OTB, or over-the-board games, are the traditional versions of the board games, which refer to the games that were played on the physical board. The online versions of board games was initiated as we stepped into the Information Age, and popularized as the technology progressed over time. Both versions have certain advantages over one another; come and find out which version works best for you!

OTB Characteristics

OTB is considered to be more formal than online board games. Most of the worldwide and elite level tournaments are played over-the-board, such as the Chess Championships, the China-Japan Go Super-Matches, the Checker GAVP World Title Match. Due to the advanced anti-cheating machines and dedicated staff in OTB events, they have a much higher efficiency to detect any potential cheaters (the speculators who use the help from usually board game engine on their electronic devices) than online board games, which ensures the fairness of the tournament.

In addition, in the OTB tournament, players tended to act properly compared to online tournaments—that is, following the ethics of the games (a special form of rules in any board game tournament). The players who failed to follow “ethics” could receive some serious punishments, like forced forfeiture from the tournament. The presence of the ethics, and its strong execution in OTB events, not only prevents certain nonsense like trash-talking, but also ensures the quality of the atmosphere in the tournament. Moreover, the prize in the OTB tournaments appear to be much higher than online tournaments, since both of the devices and atmosphere in the OTB events are better than the online events.

Speaking of the technical part of the games played in the OTB events, the games could have more moves with strategic ideas than tactical ideas. The OTB events usually have longer time control, in comparison to the online events, which means the less opportunity for a player to offer tactical opportunity to his opponent. Since both sides have sufficient time to concentrate, the players will focus more on the long-term development of the game. The strategical battle over the board could be more intense because there could be more psychological fights as well. More importantly, players love to attend the OTB events, because they can improve their skills, by exchanging the thoughts or ideas to the opponent after the game. The OTB events for the players could be a wonderful experience, in which they may make more friends and improve their skills.

Online Board Game Characteristic

Online board game is considered to be more casual than the OTB events. Comparing to the OTB events, online events could be more convenient to the players, because it does not need the time for travelling to the tournament sites, which the OTB events requires. In addition, the online events usually have less time control than the OTB events, which meant the players could play more games in online tournament in a certain time period than they do in the OTB tournaments. This is attracting to many board game lovers, since it really makes them possible to play a game or two in a day, while the OTB events may not be practical for them, because they may not have that much time. Also, the shorter time control online usually helps the players, because they can improve their tactical skills and time management skills while playing. Moreover, the online events do not have complicated rules the OTB events have which could be some distraction for the players while playing. Online events are also helpful for them to experiment a new opening, since they can try the opening against various opponents online.

Our School on OTB chess!

Our school chess team has attended two chess tournaments in the semester so far, and learned a lot from each.

In the first tournament, one of our teammates actually encountered some misconceptions about the location of the tournament site. During the tournament, our team actually experienced a case that one of the opponents we faced actually sat on the wrong board. Another teammate also met an opponent who tried to rush him to make a move more than once. Ultimately, the result of the first tournament turned out to be nice—15 games out of 16 secures first place. More importantly, we leardned several lessons from the tournament: make sure everyone is familiar of the tournament site, ask the opponent’s name to ensure the right pairing, and call the referee if we encounter anything during the game.

For the second tournament, our preparation (from what we learned in the first tournament) proved to be helpful in a certain way. However, we actually encountered some other problems in the second tournament. Due to the much longer travel to the second tournament, our team actually had some troubles to adjust ourselves to our best shape. Though the team fought their best, we lost some unnecessary games, and eventually scored 9.5 out of 16. This was another instructive tournament, in which we became more aware of how to better prepare our team for the next tournament. From the two OTB chess tournaments our school team attended, we gained experience, had fun, and we improved our chess skills.


The OTB version of the board games, and the online version of the board games, both have their advantages. The OTB events are formal ones, that have a higher quality atmosphere in the tournament, higher prizes, wider aspects including social and psychological parts, and more strategic ideas in the games than the online events. The online events consist more of dynamic and tactical ideas in the games. The online events are more convenient than the OTB events, which make it more practical for many board game lovers.