Wednesday 31 October 2018

ChessPlus: London Chess Conference

December will bring the 10th London Chess Classic, one of the most important and exciting events on the chess calendar.

More blogs about the Classic will follow soon, but today we focus on the 6th edition of the London Chess Conference, which will be on the weekend of 8-9 Decemember and organised by ChessPlus.

The venue this year will be the Irish Cultural Centre in Hammersmith, which is a new one for the conference but a very familiar one for me, as I have delivered several CSC training days there and have always found the staff and facilities perfect.

Theme: The Future of Chess in Education

'Welcome to the sixth edition of the annual London Chess Conference. The theme this year is the future of chess in education. The question arises because there are many developments in the world of chess and also many challenges facing our education systems. In the UK, the head of the schools inspection body, OFSTED, recently announced that they would switch their attention from looking at how children perform in exams to looking at how they learn in the classroom. The new idea, “quality of education”, is a reversion to a time before league tables forced schools to narrow the range of education. The likely consequence of the revived approach is that schools should make time for arts, music, sports and, we may hope, activities such as chess.

A strong argument for chess in schools is that it prepares children for the digital future. Chess is about the manipulation of abstract ideas – the raw material of the digital age. Citizens need to be able to navigate a range of logic-rich scenarios. For example, using a mobile phone or an iPad involves appreciating that there is a logical sequence to performing any task. The chess playing child goes deep into the logical relationship between the elements. At its essence, chess becomes a series of if-then conditions. If you move your bishop, then I will checkmate you. Once you begin to think in this structured way, you can overcome a wider range of problems that one meets in everyday life. Conference speakers will explain how schools will be using chess to develop not only intellectual but also social skills which are vital for future citizens.'

I have been involved in previous conferences - as both chair and presenter - but this time my status has been elevated to that of one of the main team:

Conference Director: John Foley

Conference Deputy Director: Sean Marsh

Programme Director: Stefan Löffler

The conference is sponsored and supported by the following:

Further details, including the online enrolment facility, can be found on the official conference website.

Monday 22 October 2018

Special Visits

At Brambles. White to play and checkmate Black in one move!
Today I as able to visit three of the CSC Teesside schools I don't normally have the opportunity to see.

It was a great day as I was able to send some time with super-tutors Dave Edmunds and Richard Harris, in addition to working with lots of my old pupils and catching up plenty of magnificent members of staff.

With Dave at Corpus Christi
I have now already seen five of the schools of my other tutors since the term started and I am hoping to catch up with the others in due course.

With Richard at Hemlington Hall
As an added bonus, to make the day even more enjoyable, I was recognised by two people in the street as 'the man who was on The One Show last week.'

Thursday 18 October 2018


I have received so many wonderful messages tonight via text, messenger, Facebook and email regarding tonight’s appearance on The One Show.

Every message has moved me and every one was very welcome indeed.

I doubt there has ever been such a positive story about Teesside anywhere.

We are far more than the lazy stereotypical comments would have people believe.

I work with remarkable people every single day: children, parents, teachers, school staff. Some are battling against incredible odds; everyone has a story. They are all my heroes.

I firmly believe the work of the CSC is the single most positive factor to impact on the world of education in recent times.

I want the people of Teesside to stand up, believe in themselves, refute the blinkered reputations imposed by others and to see exactly what they can achieve with hard work and determination.

Everyone is capable of greatness. Dream it; do it. Be magnificent.

Tuesday 16 October 2018

24th Yarm Team Chess Championships: Filming

In an unprecedented move, BBC1's The One Show filmed our chess tournament and the resulting five-minute feature will be shown tomorrow evening (Thursday 18 October) at 7.00 p.m.

We were delighted to welcome the film crew of Benjamin and Daniel when they arrived at Park End Primary School last Friday to start their coverage of chess on Teesside, with the initial focus on the school's chess team as they prepared for their first-ever tournament.

Cameras rolling for the opening ceremony
If nothing else, it certainly kept the Park End corridors clear

Park End's Headteacher Julia Rodwell being interviewed
Preparing to film the boots

It was particularly good to have the attention of the media when we had such a wide range of newcomers and experienced players at the tournament, some of whom have already been champions of Teesside.

The flourishing library project is certainly having an impact on our numbers. This time we had two teams from Stockton Library and one from Thornaby Library. Thank you to chief volunteers Sean Cassidy and Brian Whitaker for their excellent work and greatly appreciated support.

The Stockton Library squad
Photograph © An Close
Don't forget to tune in tomorrow evening!

Monday 15 October 2018

24th Yarm Team Chess Championships: Gallery (2)

Today we present a gallery from the prize giving ceremony of the 24th Yarm Team Chess Championships.

All photographs in this gallery are © Johannes Grundmann

Park End played for the first time and did very well on their debut. Their progress was the main focus of attention for BBC's The One Show and we will have more about this special project tomorrow. Stay tuned!

Sunday 14 October 2018

24th Yarm Team Chess Championships: Gallery (1)

Today we present the first of our tournament galleries, to follow on from the results we posted yesterday.

Photographs from the prize giving will follow tomorrow.

All photographs in this gallery are © Johannes Grundmann.