Monday 30 July 2018

Chess Riot!

My whole life has been one big chess riot but now I have been outdone by series of remarkable chess designs that are available to all.

'Here at Chess Riot, we put chess inspired artwork on tee's and other useful stuff. Our range is designed for those who love (or know someone who loves) the game.

Chess Riot plays for the local club, in the local pub, and online. We believe Chess deserves more visual art to promote the wonders of the game, which is why when we’re not at the board, it’s all about the pens and pencils!'

Vibrant colours, great designs...Chess Riot is clearly aiming to put the fun into chess in a big way.

(All images in this post are © Chess Riot)

For further details, please head to the Chess Riot website and Facebook page.

Sunday 29 July 2018

Project 30: Announcement for 2018-9

Project 30 brought an unprecedented number of special events to Teesside during 2017-8.

At the conclusion of the year of events I stated that certain elements would return for 2018-9 and there would be some new additions too.

I can now reveal the opening event of Project 30's second year will be a talk and simultaneous display by none other than top chess author and FIDE Master Steve Giddins.

This will take place on Friday 17 August.

This exciting event will be suitable for both adults and juniors. 

Meanwhile, it is a good time to familiarise yourself with some of the chess books Steve has written, starting with this handy list

Steve will be very happy to sign copies of his books on the day.

Further details will be released in due course. Stay tuned!

Wednesday 25 July 2018

CSC Training Day Tour 2017-8: London Finale

This year's CSC Training Day Tour has taken me to London (four days), Edinburgh (three days), Manchester, Newcastle, Leeds and Middlesbrough.

There has been a great demand for places on this year's courses and we even added an extra date in London, just a couple of weeks after what was originally intended to be the last leg of this year's tour.

I was delighted to be able to return to London one more time to deliver the finale of the 2017-8 tour. The venue was the excellent Irish Cultural Centre, just as it had been earlier in the month.

This was undoubtedly the hottest training day on the tour (in terms of temperature, not content, I hasten to add) with thermometers wearily pushing to 30 degrees.

Despite the heat, the 14 highly enthusiastic delegates worked hard all day on the various mini-games, written tasks and other challenges.

We also enjoyed the company and guidance of Chris Fegan, Aga Sapkowska and John Foley at various times throughout our busy day.

I loved working with everyone and we now have lots of new contacts, ideas and plans to pursue in the near future.

Thank you, everyone! 

Plans are already at an advanced stage for the 2018-9 Training Day Tour and I can hardly wait to start all over again.

We conclude with some photographs from our excellent day.

Chris Fegan addressing the delegates
Full house - with bonus artwork
The mini-games begin!

A written task in action
John Foley - the original CSC Tutor Trainer - addressing the delegates

There is always a lot to discuss when John is in town
John with Aga
With Aga, who is undoubtedly one of the hardest-working people I have ever met
The first-ever photograph of the three of us together 
Playing chess during a break!
Photo © Aga
Photo © Aga
Photo © Aga
Home time always comes around too soon, leaving me with the usual mixed emotions. Sadness that the day has come to an end but happiness that we have achieved so much over the course of a few short hours.

Thank you to everyone who has helped me at every stage on the 2017-8 tour and to all at Chess in Schools and Communities for having such faith in me to deliver so many training sessions.

Monday 23 July 2018

Thursday 19 July 2018

Park End's Latest Leap

Forget the Teesside Championships; forget the Megafinals and the Gigafinals of the UK Chess Challenge. We saved the most competitive event of all until our last school day of 2017-8.

Yes, today brought the highly-aniticpated Park End Primary Staff Chess Championship.

It has been a long time coming and such was the interest it took three weeks to register all of the names. Even then, one of the 16 participants of this most difficult of knockout tournaments sustained an unfortunate calendar clash and had to miss out due to a course (never mind Mrs Gaskarth; there's always next year).

It is typical of Park End to entertain a new and eccentric idea. One can't help but love them.

Here are the full results.

Round 1

The first round was tense as the staff entered the world of competitive chess for the first time. 

The game between Mrs Butterworth and Mrs Richardson lasted over an hour and a half. Rumour has it they just didn't want to return to their respective classrooms but the truth of the matter is they were so well matched that it took a long time before a clear advantage emerged for Mrs Butterworth.

Elsewhere, Mr Holmes claimed he didn't want to play his best because he didn't have much free time as he 'had to get on with my painting'.

Everyone was taking the tournament very seriously. So much so that I had my vocabulary extended considerably at various moments. 

The eight players left in the competition after the first round suddenly knew they were but three more wins away from becoming the champion. 

Mrs Bennsion 0, Miss Ridley 1

Mr Tapner 1, Miss Crossley 0 (after a replay; first game drawn by stalemate)

Mrs Johnstone 0, Miss King 1

Mr Lovatt 1, Mr Holmes 0

Mrs Richardson 0, Mrs Butterworth 1

Mr Storey 1, Mr Hallett 0

Miss Rennison 1, Mrs Moore 0

Miss Hampton 1, Bye 0


With a place in the semi-finals at stake, the players were all on task for their second round of tough battles.

There were certainly no easy games and all four winners and to earn their victories the hard way. I was beginning to think we might need another day to finish off the event.

Miss Rennison 0, Mrs Butterworth 1

Miss King 0, Mr Lovatt 1

Mr Storey 1, Miss Hampton 0

Mr Tapner 0, Miss Ridley 1


Talk about compettive. These games were ferocious encounters.

Mr Lovatt took an early lead by winning Mrs Butterworth's queen, but the latter stabilised the position well and started to fight back. Eventually Mr Lovatt's advantage told - but it wasn't easy.

Meanwhile, in one of the day's closest games, the advantage oscillated between Miss Ridley and Mr Storey until a late surge saw Mr Storey achieve pawn promotion and then engineer an excellent checkmate, with his new playing a starring role.

Mrs Butterworth 0, Mr Lovatt 1

Mr Storey 1, Miss Ridley 0


The big final was played in front of a large crowd. We had only just announced a new trophy was at stake and this led to a further increase in concentration from the two competitive finalists.

Once again we saw a game in which the advantage changed hands several times. Suddenly, Mr Storey seemed to have obtained a decisive advantage. Mr Lovatt's queen had gone and he appeared to be in terrible trouble. Then something incredible happened. Mr Lovatt's two passed pawns caused confusion in the enemy ranks and Mr Storey, in trying to stop them both advancing to promotion, allowed a deadly skewer on his king and queen.

This allowed Mr Lovatt to gain a huge advantage, with two new queens about to appear via pawn promotion.

Mr Storey 0, Mr Lovett 1

Very well played, everyone!

Wheels are already in motion to produce an inter-school staff tournament next year.

Meanwhile, enjoy viewing the gallery from today's historic event. Observe the concentration and try to work from the expressions and body language who is winning each game in the pictures.

The deadly skewer!

Congratulations, Mr Lovatt!