Sunday 4 February 2024

Seventh Teesside Megafinal: Managing Expectations

As previously mentioned, the Seventh Teesside Megafinal (click on the link to find the entry form) will soon be here and it seems to be a good moment to think about general expectations.

The vast majority of children play in Megafinals so they can have fun, enjoy the company of their friends, make new friends and to test their chess skills against children from other schools. Their level of play will almost certainly improve as a consequence.

Chess tournaments can be tough, especially if a player has unrealistic expectations going into the event.

Mixing wins with a similar number of defeats is perfectly logical expectation. Expecting to win every game without any particular difficulties along the way is not so logical.

Occasionally, it is reported to me that a child is 'heartbroken' or 'devastated' after (what they see as) an unsuccessful tournament performance. It goes beyond hyperbole, because the parents in question really do appear to believe that what they are saying is true.

This usually isn't far away from those who claim they want their child to learn the art of resilience through chess, only to claim, retrospectively, that not only did their child have to play strong opponents but also that their opponents cheated in every game.

If expectations are realistic then we wouldn't have to navigate through so much smoke and so many mirrors.

We never apply pressure to our pupils to perform at tournaments either in our chess classes or on a one-to-one basis.

We cannot monitor or control parental pressure, but we do find ourselves having to deal with the aftermath.

I have plenty of stories to tell another time, including how a parent threatened to set his Rottweiler dogs on me after his son failed to win a game.

For now, here is a reminder of the ethos of our Teesside tournaments:

'We will be working very hard on the day trying to ensure everyone has a great time. As usual with our events, we want to keep the pressure on the children to an absolute minimum.

To help protect this ethos, we want the children to relax between the rounds and to temporarily forget about their chess battles.

It would be greatly appreciated if all parents, guardians, teachers, chess coaches et al supported this ethos too and helped all of the children to enjoy the day without applying any pressure between the rounds.'

Seventh Teesside Megafinal: Essential Information


I am very pleased to announce the details of the Seventh Teesside Megafinal.

Event: 2024 Delancey UK Schools' Chess Challenge Teesside Megafinal. This year, children do not need to have qualified from the initial phase to enter a Megafinal. Entry is open to all!

Venue: Yarm Senior School, specifically the Princess Alexandra Auditorium.  This is one of the North East's premier concert venues and we are delighted to be back here. Parking is available on site.

Date: Sunday 5 May 2024

Timings: Please arrive for 9.30 a.m. Play will start at 10.00 a.m. The prize giving will be at approximately 5.00 p.m. but we are hoping to pull the timings forward if we have the opportunity to do so on the day.

Closing Date for Entries: Friday 26 April 2024

The online entry form and other information can be found on the UKCC Website.

Format: All players will play six rounds, on the Swiss system. We will combine some of the sections but the champions of each one will receive the trophies and titles. Tied places will be resolved by the Sum of Progressive Scores tiebreaker.

Arbiter: Sean Marsh

General Information: 

The Megafinal has a set number of 150 places. Once these have been booked the online entry system will not allow any more.

We cannot accept any more entries once the Megafinal is full and we will definitely not be able to take extra entries on the day.

If you miss out on a place on Teesside, please try another Megafinal. They are listed here.

We cannot offer full supervision anywhere outside of the playing rooms. Parents/guardians must supervise their children at all times other than when the children are in the playing rooms.

Parents, guardians, teachers and chess coaches will not be allowed in the playing rooms during the rounds.

Problems arising during the games will be solved by the tournament Arbiter. Children must alert the Arbiter to any problems by raising their hand. It is very difficult to solve problems retrospectively.

The venue's cafe will be open and basic refreshments will be on sale throughout the day. However, we advise you to bring a packed lunch too.

We will be working very hard on the day trying to ensure everyone has a great time. As usual with our events, we want to keep the pressure on the children to an absolute minimum. To help protect this ethos, we want the children to relax between the rounds and to temporarily forget about their chess battles. It would be greatly appreciated if all parents, guardians, teachers, chess coaches et al supported this ethos too and helped all of the children to enjoy the day without applying any pressure between the rounds.

Full reports will appear across our range of social media platforms. Please let me know on the day if you have any concerns regarding the use of photographs.

The Arbiter's decision in all matters relating to the tournament is final.

A full list of Megafinal rules can be found on the UKCC website.

Sunday 21 January 2024

CSC Training Day Tour 2023-4: Debut in Sheffield

The Sheffield leg of the 2023-4 CSC Training Tour was the first of 2024 and the first time I have ever delivered such a day in the famous Steel City. Indeed, the last CSC Training Day in Sheffield was delivered by John Foley and Nevil Chan, back in 2013.

There is a lot more to Sheffield than immediately meets the eye. 

For a city with such an industrial reputation, it may be a surprise to learn that there are over two million trees in Sheffield (approximately four per person).

Their musical heritage is very impressive too. Pulp, ABC, Human League, Heaven 17 and Artic Monkeys all began their careers in Sheffield and, conversely, the great Tina Turner played her last concert there (5 May 2009).

Perhaps most surprisingly of all, Sheffield hosted the world's largest spacehopper race in 2020, in which 771 people raced over 100 metres. I would like to let you know who won, but at the time of writing they haven't quite finished.

In the 17th Century, Sheffield was the world's producer of cutlery, which perhaps explains why we saw many forks during yesterday's games.

The venue for our Training Day was the extraordinary Sheffield Chess Centre, created by Jonathan Arnott, who acted as host for the day and whose duties even extended to personally cooking the pizzas requested by the delegates.

What an excellent set of delegates we had! Well done, everyone, for working so hard.

Catherine Lloyd and I enjoyed visiting Sheffield and we are hoping to make a return journey in 2025.

Meanwhile, the CSC Training Day Tour continues and the current schedule can be found here. A couple of new destinations may well be added in due course.

Here is a gallery showing captured moments from our busy day.

Mini-games in action

Remember: 'Sharing is caring'

The serious playing room is just one of
many features at the Sheffield Chess Centre

Is that Demelza and Poldark...?

Getting to grips with a written exercise

With Jonathan and Catherine

People will tell you, I am never shy about making a point

The group games were certainly intense

Thank you, Sheffield!

Thursday 7 December 2023

CSC Training Day Tour 2023-4: A Classic Training Day

The latest leg of our 2023-4 CSC Training Day Tour brought a return to London and a new venue in the form of Marylebone Theatre, Rudolf Steiner House - a place of many features and lots of stairs.

Our day tied in very nicely with the 13th London Chess Classic, which is proving to be one of the most exciting of the famous series, with a significantly high number of decisive results.

Matt Piper and I were very pleased to be able to work with an excellent set of delegates - 15 in all - on a day full of chess activities.

We also had three special guests from CSC Head Office: Malcolm Pein, Chris Fegan and Matt Read.

Here are a few captured moments from our busy day.

Chris Fegan addressing the delegates

Malcolm Pein entertaining the audience with a chess puzzle

Thank you, everyone, for helping to make the day such a great success.

Here is Malcolm's chess puzzle.

White to play and checkmate Black in two moves

Our forthcoming tour dates can be found here.

Sunday 12 November 2023

CSC Training Day Tour 2023-4: A Great Day in Hull

The annual CSC Training Day in Hull proved to be another fine day in the fabulous city.

Isaac Acheampong and the excellent team at the Hull Central Library always make us feel very welcome and we had a wonderful set of delegates.

Jo Hutchinson was the official assistant for the day and she did a lot of the preparation too, all of which helped to make the day such a great success. In fact, the day would not have gone ahead without Jo's admirable endeavours.

Isaac also addressed the delegates at the start of the day and Chris Matthews, the local CSC Regional Organizser, did the same towards the end of the day.

As always on our training days, we worked on many topics, including the CSC curriculum, mini-games and a discussion on the benefits of chess.

The special room we use 'also holds a significant collection of books about Napoleon, based on the collection assembled by John Wilson Smith, a local fish merchant, from whom the collection was purchased in 1958. The collection was added to until the 1980s, though only English language material was purchased' according to this document

It certainly is an extremely impressive collection and anyone wanting to research Napoleon and his life should take note of the facility.

I always feel very at home in Hull and would like to do more in the city. Consider me open to offers.

Thank you, everyone, for a very enjoyable event (and more thanks to Isaac for bringing three fans to our room to counter the full-on radiator effect, which had pushed the temperature to an extraordinary 30°C).

Here are some captured moments from the day.

Three Ducal Coronets - 
the famous Coat of Arms for Kingston-upon-Hull

I wonder who won this game?

It is always great to be reunited with Jo

Chris Matthews addressing the delegates

'Maybe two knights, Josephine?'