Saturday 30 September 2017

23rd Yarm Chess Championships (1)

Today's tournament was a big success, featuring 25 teams and over 100 children.

The full results will follow tomorrow and there will be reports and galleries leading into next week.

For starters here are a few photographs from our very busy day and a very big thank you to everyone who supported the event as players, parents, organisers and teachers.

Wednesday 27 September 2017

CSC Training Day Tour 2017-8: London

This year's CSC training day tour began with a thoroughly enjoyable day at Enterprise House in London.

The 14 delegates were a perfect blend of people, encompassing those from the teaching profession who sought to build up their chess skills and strong chess players (including WFM Shahanah Schmid) who sought exactly the opposite.

The delegates tackled all of the tasks with relish. They absorbed the information about the CSC, learned about our curriculum, produced some excellent written work and enjoyed a series of mini-games and other challenges.

Zoran was the first brave volunteer of the day and his task was to
move around the room like a bishop. No straight lines allowed!

I wonder who won this one?
Ruth was the next brave volunteer. The task: to move around the room like a queen.
An expert job - complete with regal waves!
CSC Chief Executive Malcolm Pein dropped in to see the day in action.
Aga, the CSC Assistant to the Senior Management Team and my excellent assistant for the day, kept everything
running smoothly. Here, Malcolm and Aga have been caught joining in the fun with a game of Pirate Chess.

Thank you, everyone!

I can honestly say that if you enjoyed the day just half as much as I did, then I must have enjoyed it twice as much as you.

The CSC calendar of training days can be found here. More dates will be added soon.

Saturday 23 September 2017

Tournament Reminders

All of our CSC Teesside Schools have received a copy of the entry form. Please check with your school if you have not received detail of this event.

Event: 23rd Yarm Team Chess Championships.

Venue: Yarm Preparatory School, Grammar School Lane, Yarm, Stockton-on-Tees, TS15 9ES 

Date: Saturday 30 September 2017

Timings: Please arrive for 9.45 a.m. Play will start at 10.00 a.m. The prize giving will be at approximately 2.30 p.m.

Format: All players will play five rounds, on the Swiss system. 

We have sections for Under-9s (Year 3s and 4s) and Under-11s (Year 5s and Year 6s). The children in this section will play for their own school teams.

We will also have a special section for Over-11s, which will feature a selection of specially invited players. For this section, I will arrange all of the players into teams of roughly equal strength.

The tournament is not just about winning titles and trophies. It should be seen primarily as an excellent experience for all competitors who will be able to learn a lot by playing against new opponents from a large number of different schools.

General Information: 

The closing date is Wednesday 27 September 2017.

We cannot accept late entries and will definitely not be able to take extra entries on the day.

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 (Sean Marsh). Children must alert the Arbiter to any problems by raising their hand. It is very difficult to solve problems retrospectively.

We will not be operating a tuck shop at this event and we advise you to bring a large packed lunch.

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.

As stated on the entry form, 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.

Wednesday 20 September 2017

Chess Crazy

It's a sign of a chess-crazy school when the teachers join in with the mini-game fun while the pupils are reduced to being in the role of mere spectators.

Can you tell who won this game at Park End earlier today?

Monday 18 September 2017

Mr Ed

I love teaching new children the very basics of chess, Johnny Cash style - one piece at time.

However, I cannot help thinking that one of my new Brambles stars is in for disappointment in a few weeks' time.

He told me: 'When we do the horse one, I know what it's called. It's called Mr Ed.'

Sunday 17 September 2017

23rd Yarm Team Chess Championships

As previously mentioned, our first major tournament of the school year is coming up very soon.

All of our CSC Teesside schools have already had the entry forms since the start of term.

Incidentally, our schools are listed here:

I have contacted a significant number of children in Secondary Schools to offer them the opportunity of playing in the special Over-11 section.

We are expecting a large number of teams to enter.

If anyone is still in the dark about this event then please let me know as soon as possible and please keep in mind the closing date is Wednesday 27 September.

Saturday 16 September 2017

Project 30

Coming soon: Project 30

To celebrate 30 years of teaching chess in schools I am planning at least 14 brand new events to take place during the 2017-8 school year.

Some events will be for senior chess players, some will be exclusively for juniors and some will feature a mixture of seniors and juniors.

Plans for some of the events will be revealed over the course of the next few days. Plans for some of the more ambitious events will remain secret for a little while longer.

For now I can promise there will be more chess on Teesside than ever before.

Stay tuned for further updates...

Monday 11 September 2017

Giving Something Back

Giving Something Back
David Hardy
220+ pages

David is both my friend and CSC work colleague; my counterpart in Manchester. I have a good idea of how hard he works to promote chess in schools and clubs. He has given far more to chess than he could ever take, yet he is still driven by the need to give something back.

David's new book is an autobiographical games collection marked by two distinct features: honest writing and highly combative chess games. 

'What I have attempted to do is select games that will highlight what it is like to be an ordinary club player and give fellow club players some food for thought about how they might win that odd extra half or full point.'

It is immediately apparent when reading the introduction that the author's approach is justified.

Within these 22 pages David tells the story of his introduction to chess during the weekend of the 1966 World Cup final and his subsequent drifting in and out of the 64-squared world until finally taking up competitive chess at the age of 20.

The over-the board battles - augmented by the occasional offering from the world of correspondence chess - define the hurly-burly world of club chess.

The 64 illustrative games (with a plethora of further examples in the detailed notes) certainly do fit the bill. Sharp openings represent the order of the day and fans of the Vienna Game, French Winnower, Open Sicilians and the King's Indian Defence will definitely find plenty of interest here.

A selection of colour photos shows David enjoying chess in various locations, from Paul Morphy's house to beaches; from the London Chess Classic to the Manchester Gigafinal.

With David at the 2017 Manchester Gigafinal
David includes various episodes revealing the quirky nature of some club players, naming names when it comes to opponents who walk out of the room, never to return, instead of resigning in conventional fashion; giving short shrift to one opponent who turned up at the board and made the mistake of asking for David's name ('I suggested to him that I had taken the trouble to find out who I was playing so I recommended that he do the same'); the tale of the sore loser who questions David's grading in an attempt to explain his loss.  Anyone with experience of club chess will recognise these type of characters and many more.

The illustrative games show the ebb and flow of club and tournament chess, where smooth victories are rarely to be found as there will always be errors, either large or small, to turn around the fortunes of the players. Most of the games clearly demonstrate the sheer fight and frustration we all encounter and experience virtually every time we sit down at the board.

That all leaves plenty of scope for wonderful tactical knockouts, such as the following.

Hardy vs. Coe
Manchester League 1994
This sparkler didn't even make it into the main 64 games, but was given in the notes to another game. 

It is White to play. Can you see how David forced a fine checkmate?

There is a definite gap in the market for books really aimed at club players and we could do with a lot more like this, which provides genuine instruction and inspiration to players of the sub-master level.

Anyone interested in finding out more about this entertaining book (club and tournament players, parents, lawyers of David's opponents...) should connect with David via the Ashton Community Chess Club page on Facebook.

The Brian Kerr Award 2017

The Brian Kerr Award has released a number of bursaries 'to girls learning chess with CSC who demonstrate exceptional enthusiasm and achievement. These can be used for the costs of coaching, books/software or tournament travel expenses.'

Lily and Farrell of CSC Teesside have both received bursaries for the school year 2017-8.

Between them, they have:

• Won medals at the 2016 London Chess Classic (silver for Lily, bronze for Farrell).

• Been part of the winning Whale Hill team at the annual Teesside Chess Championships (level with Yarm School after beating them in the last round - a very signifiant achievement).

• Reached two consecutive Gigafinals (2016 and 2017).

• Been ever-presents in all of our domestic events for two years.

• Acted as perfect role models for chess players at Whale Hill and as perfect ambassadors for Teesside at the 2016 London Chess Classic and the Manchester Gigafinals.

I believe the funds awarded from the Brian Kerr Award will keep Lily and Farrell motivated and on the road for further improvement as they head into their third year of CSC chess.

Wednesday 6 September 2017

Back at The Links

The Links Primary School started their CSC curriculum sessions today.

Not only is The Links a significant new addition to our CSC Teesside ensemble, but it also a school with a rich history of chess.

I worked there from 1988-2004 and the school played host to some of my more adventurous schemes, such as the 24-hour fundraising chess marathons, chess discos, Summer, Easter and Christmas schools of chess, plus, of course, the Chess Links Project which saw The Links merge with Teesside High School for a huge range of chess activities as part of a very special, government-funded two-year scheme.

I was also a Governor at the Links for eight years (including four years as Vice-Chair), worked in the school library for two years, created a club for other board games and lots of other things. I even judged the Easter Hat competition one year.

Some weeks I was there every day.

So readers can perhaps understand how many memories were evoked as I walked along the long-familiar paths to this fine school this morning - for the first time in 13 years.

I loved seeing some familiar faces from long ago and meeting lots of people who were new to me.

Some of my new pupils have parents, aunties and uncles who were taught by me back in the 1980s and 1990s.

Days like today serve to remind me how exciting it is to be doing something nobody else can ever do.

Monday 4 September 2017

New School Year

Happy New school year, everyone!

Last year we achieved more than ever before in the world of CSC Teesside. Thank you to everyone who helped make the year such a fabulous success.

We are going to achieve even more this year and plans for new events are already afoot. We have some new schools on board too.

The first big event of the new season is coming up very soon.

The 23rd Yarm Chess Championships will be at Yarm Prep. School on Saturday 30 September.

This is for school teams of four players from schools across Teesside (Redcar & Cleveland, Stockton-on-Tees, Middlesbrough and Hartlepool).
There will be sections for Under-9s and Under-11s and we will once again have a special section for Over-11 children.

All CSC Teesside schools have received entry forms, so if you attend one of those schools then please ask there.
If you are a chess player in a Secondary School and you are interested in entering the tournament then please let me know via a message on here as the entries for that section are handled slightly differently.

Friday 1 September 2017

ECF Book of the Year 2017

I am on the English Chess Federation Book of the Year panel again this year.

My two fellow panelists and I have just produced a shortlist for this year's award, which can be found here.