Sunday 28 February 2016

Yarm UK Chess Challenge 2016

This year marks 21 years of the UK Chess Challenge. It is the world's biggest chess tournament and regularly features over 48,000 children. We had 53 players in action for the first stage of the competition, all the way from Y2 to Y6. A very healthy number indeed! They played seven full rounds of chess as they battled away for the top honours in each of the three sections.

The Y2s have been working hard during their first year of chess and they made their tournament debuts in a tough, combined section with the Y3s. Tanveer Timmons was the top Y2 Boy, with an excellent score of 15 points out of 21 - one point ahead of Seth Holland and Aryan Nalawade, who shared second place. Elizabeth Neilson matched Tanveer's score and was the Best Y2 Girl, a point ahead of Isobel McGlade. Kate Howell was just behind, in third place.

The overall champion of the section - and Best Y3 Boy - was Ajay Selvan, who won all of his games (the only player in any of the sections to do so). Ayan Thomas held second place, three points behind Ajay, and Shola Afolabi was third. Grace Crawford was the Best Y3 Girl, with Zaara Soni and Rishika Chawala finishing second and third respectively.

The Y4s and Y5s were combined to form another tough section. Henry Parker - a man of many quick checkmates - became the top Y4 Boy, pipping Yusuf Syed to the post with a dramatic last-round victory. Amen Khunda played well too and earned himself a fine third place. Isra Ali was the top Y4 Girl.

Ammar Soni - who reached a very advanced stage of the UK Chess Challenge in 2015 - started this year's event in similar style as he raced to the top to become the top Y5 Boy, having won six and drawn one of his seven games.

Adhi Dinakaran was second and Gaurav Kannan was third. The race to become the top Y5 Girl ended in an unlikely tie between Samantha Botterill and Keya Shah. They were on different scores for most of the day but somehow ended up completely level. They had drawn with each other earlier in the tournament, so there was clearly no separating them!

We expected a very competitive battle in the Y6 section and we were not disappointed. We don't always have so many Y6s at this event so we were delighted to see many of our stars in action. Edward Adams seemed to be on course for a typical maximum score but a late loss to Aishani Paul left things very much in doubt until the end of the final round. Edward recovered well but had to work very hard to break down the resistance of Will Craggs, who only capitulated deep into the endgame. Meanwhile Shish Nair, with his hard-earned victory over Jake Meager, had caught up to Edward and they shared first place. Jake - without doubt one of our most consistent players over the last three years - shared third with Danny Scott. This was Danny's best tournament to date and he outscored several more experienced players. 

This was, perhaps, our strongest ever year for Y6 girls, with five of them being in the thick of the action all day long. Eventually, Aishani Paul - thanks partly to her fabulous victory against Edward - earned the title of Best Y6 Girl, one point ahead of Romilly Nichols, and Jasmine Kaur.

Meanwhile, I couldn't help noticing an unusual winning move in the shape of 'Bat to b1, checkmate.'

It was made possible by the handing out of various little UKCC prizes throughout the day and one player's lack of a spare queen after promoting a pawn.

'I couldn't find a new queen so I used my bat,' he said.

I have been running chess tournaments for a loooooong time and it's the very first time I have heard that particular sentence.

All of the above-named players (apart from the bat) will now be invited to play in the forthcoming Megafinal, where they will pit their wits and skills against the top players from all cross the Yorkshire region.

It was a wonderful day of chess, played in a very sporting atmosphere.

Congratulations to all players and thank you to all of the Yarm School staff who made the event possible.

All photographs are © Johannes Grundmann (apart from the two with the bat, which are © Sean Marsh).

Wednesday 24 February 2016

Interview: Captain Caitlin

Following on from our previous report on the CSC Teesside London expedition, we now present an interview with Captain Caitlin.

Photo © Fay Anderson

Q: What was the best thing about the London experience?

I don't know; I liked it all! Probably when I went on the stage to move a piece for Vishy Anand.

Q: Which move did you make?

The pawn in front of the king, two spaces.

Photo © John Saunders

Q: Were you nervous when you went onto the stage?

Not really; it just seemed so surreal.

Q: Did you know it was live on the Internet, being watched by people all across the world?

I didn't realise that at the time!

Photo © Fay Anderson

Q: How did your games in the tournament go?

All right: won two, drawn two, lost one.

Q: Were they tough games?

Yes, but I messed up in one of them.

Q: The one you lost?


Q: What did you do?

I didn't realise he could take my queen!

Q: Were you happy with your performance apart from that?


Q: Did you feel you were playing against strong players all time?

Yes, most of the time.

Q: Would you go back again if you had the chance?


Q: Do you think it made you a better player?

I hope so!

Q: What else about the trip has stuck in your mind?

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It was really good!

Friday 19 February 2016

CSC Teesside at the London Chess Classic (2)

As mentioned earlier, a party of CSC Teesside juniors and their parents travelled up to London at the end of December to participate in the 2015 London Chess Classic.

The expedition was made possible thanks to generous donations from the Michael John Norwood Memorial Trust, Chess in Schools and Communities, Ings Farm Primary School and Westgarth Primary School.

We now continue our coverage of the event, in the words of Tom, who won a silver medal following an outstanding performance at the tournament.

All photos included in this report are © Fay Anderson and are reproduced by kind permission.

Tom's Chess Blog

Day 1

I got up at 6:30 a.m., we had to go really fast to the train station or we were going be late. We got to the train station and the others were waiting for it to come, which was a relief that we weren't late.
Then when we got on the train Mr Marsh waved us off. 

Photo © Fay Anderson
On the train everyone was mostly playing on an electronic device. I was on an iPhone 3 which was not really that much fun because I had no games only some songs and the battery only lasted 11 minutes. When we got off the train, we were in London (specifically King's Cross Station). 

We then went to the hotel, to our rooms. When we got to our rooms a lot of us (me, Gracie and Fin) played tig/hide 'n' seek. When we were playing Fin and Gracie decided to team up on me (this situation always happens to me for some reason) so I hid behind one of the doors up in the hallways and they couldn't find me. 

Photo © Fay Anderson
Then we went out to T.G.I Friday's for tea and then we went to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Me and Caitlin were talking about how Willy Wonka looked like a friend at school when she goes crazy. After that we went back and went to the hotel to sleep.

Day 2

We got up on the morning, we went down stairs to go and have breakfast. We went to get a croissant and there was Chloe burning one of them. Next we took the tube to the Chess Tournament. 

Photo © Fay Anderson
When we got there there was a tutor (former winner) who only taught us some tricks and I can't remember his name but I think he was Russian. 

Photo © Fay Anderson
So it was time to go into the tournament and we started playing games. But before we did any of that we had to tell them our school so we chose Westgarth and it took them a while to know we were Markse and Redcar schools together, then they finally knew. 

Photo © Fay Anderson
When we played our games I came across this dead cocky boy and he tried to show off that he is all good and I wrecked him. 

When we were all finished we met back up to compare our scores. I got 14/15. Then they called out the medals and I was second, (Silver medal). Then when I got my silver medal I got a picture with a pawn and a bishop chess pieces. 

We all went out for tea to Five Guys, which is the best burger place ever. Whilst we were eating were all at five guys Caitlin and her mam were still at the chess tournament, they stayed to watch all the Grand Masters play. Then we returned to King's Cross station and went home on the train.

Thank you, Tom!

More reports on the London experience will follow soon...

Tuesday 16 February 2016

London Reunion

Tonight I met up again with the amazing people who featured on the CSC Teesside London expedition back in December. 

I interviewed the juniors to gather their thoughts on the trip to the London Chess Classic and continued amassing photographs and other bits and pieces to help with a major report for this site.

The other aspect of the evening concerned the art of having fun as we recreated the bowling and pizza scenario from a couple of months ago.

Here are some captured moments from a wonderful evening.

Ready for action!
What a team!
An even better team!
A high-scoring match
Bowling and pizzas...what more could one want? Ah yes - stickers!
And this was even before Tom's starter...
Tom proudly showing his London Classic silver chess medal
Captain Caitlin, calmly keeping control of the party
Finlay, just like all good chess players, knows a fork when he sees one.
That's one piece of cucumber Oreo the guinea pig will never get to see
Empty plates all round
Extraordinary people - with me
Tom gets his just desserts
Captain Caitlin certainly can have her cake and eat it
Finlay smiling as if he has won the cup!
Recreating the famous Bottle of Notes
Well, so what? If you can't beat them, join them!

Monday 15 February 2016

Chess at the Library

Chess at the Library - Open to ALL!

Event: Hobby Fayre
Date: Saturday 27 February 2016
Time: 10.00 a.m. - 3.00 p.m.
Venue: Middlesbrough Central Library
Entry Details: Free entry; just turn up at any time between the hours stated above.

The Hobby Fayre is being staged by Middlesbrough Community Learning and Middlesbrough Libraries. Lots of activities will be on offer throughout the day, including chess.

CSC Tutor David Smith will be there to promote the Middlesbrough Chess Club and will offer tuition, games and puzzles for all-comers.

David is a former British Senior Chess Champion, many-times Cleveland Champion and long time supporter of junior chess.

David Smith, controlling a section at the 2015 Teesside Individual Chess Championship 

Wednesday 10 February 2016

Chess Art Movement

Hanging my chess demonstration board from an interactive whiteboard produced an unexpected piece of art at Sacred Heart this morning.

The whiteboard was still logged on to the computer and the program that was running added colours and lines to correspond with every little movement from the pieces on the demonstration board.

I think we have inadvertently started a new art movement, which will no doubt attract many followers and imitators.

Tuesday 2 February 2016

From the Archive (7)

More memories...

More recent this time; October 2011, to be precise.

To celebrate a very successful first year for Chess in Schools and Communities, we took six of our star juniors up to London for a very special event at the Palace of Westminster.

The picture shows CSC Teesside meeting Garry Kasparov - the 13th World Champion.

I posted a full report of this celebratory event over at Marsh Towers back in 2011, which can be found here.