Friday 23 November 2018

Training Day Tour 2018-9: Manchester

It was pleasure to return to Manchester for the November leg of the CSC Training Day Tour.

We had an excellent set of delegates with a wide range of skills, including teachers, parents, FIDE Master Alex Longson and people with 30 years of experience of teaching chess in clubs and schools.

Everybody relaxed quickly into the day and we felt a growing team spirit as the sessions progressed.

I am always guaranteed a warm welcome in Manchester, thanks in great part to the presence of my excellent friend and CSC Manchester Regional Organiser David Hardy.

The delegates learned about CSC, working in schools, our community work and tried for themselves some of the activities in our curriculum, including our mini-games. We also enjoyed numerous discussions on various subjects, including the benefits of chess in schools.

The other aspect of the day that provided great enjoyment was lunch at the training day's venue, the San Rocco restaurant.

Cancelled trains did not derail my enthusiasm for the day and I can honestly say that if the delegates enjoyed the day just half as much as I did, then I must have enjoyed the day twice as much as they did.

Nine more training days are currently on the CSC calendar and at least two more (Edinburgh and Middlesbrough) will be added soon.

Head here for further details.

Saturday 17 November 2018

CSC Teesside at the 2018 World Chess Championship

11 August 1986, Park Lane Hotel, London: My first World Chess Championship match - featuring champion Garry Kasparov against challenger Anatoly Karpov.

The reigning champion struggled against the challenger in Game 6 of the match when the resilient Petroff Defence proved to be a shrewd choice of opening. The champion eventually held a draw in a difficult endgame after a period of uncomfortable pressure.

Fast forward 32 years...I had already been to the only other two title matches to be held in London (Kasparov - Short 1993 and Kasparov - Kramnik 2000) and this time I was all set to return to witness chess at the highest level, with the latest World Championship match between champion Magnus Carlsen and his challenger, Fabiano Caruana. For the first time, I was able to bring a group of CSC Teesside juniors along for the chess trip of a lifetime.

CSC became involved in this match comparatively late in the day but when tickets were offered I didn't need to think twice. There was a lot to organise in a very short period of time (selections, permissions, paperwork, trains, maps...) and a lot of time and effort was put in by Mr Bethell and the excellent staff at Ings Farm Primary School, ensuring the expedition moved from being a possibility to a reality.

Here we go!
With four juniors (Jacob, Hannah, Naomi and Lola) on board and the very welcome assistance of Mrs Hollifield (who would never have dreamt, just a couple of weeks ago, she would ever be on the way to see a World Chess Championship match) it was all systems go as we took the first steps on our remarkable adventure.

Al fresco lunch at King's Cross
'Going underground...'
Two stops on the Piccadilly Line
The famous Lola!

Anyone for a game of sardines?
We were not on the tube for very long and it was only a short walk from Holborn Station to The College.


Good idea!

It was only a matter of time!
Wristbands on - we are ready for action!

We were given a guided tour of the building by Tereza and even got to stand by the very board Carlsen and Caruana would soon be using.

The children enjoyed a great chess lesson presented by my excellent friend, Nevil.

Tereza, who was instrumental in making our dream day come true, presented the children with the Junior Programme for the event.

Then it was time to enter the playing hall, to see the world's top two players in action.

Kay Burley of Sky News makes the ceremonial opening move

A handshake starts the game

The Petroff Defence by Caruana! 

Caruana: Cool and composed
Carlsen: Can he find a way to pressure the Petroff?

Judit Polgar - highest chess-rated woman in history - commentating on the game
CSC Teesside analysing the game in progress

After a fabulous day at the match it was time to start the long journey home. Well, after a bite to eat, that is. My Pret a Manger plan was heavily outvoted by the trip to McDonalds. More fries, anyone...?

CSC Teesside, analysing the contents of a McDonalds meal bag
The trains back were packed but after a successful battle to claim our reserved seats we were able to relax and reflect on the experience.

21.54 - Darlington to Redcar East - the last leg of the journey

To come full circle and to sum up the game, consider this paragraph...

The reigning champion, struggled against the challenger in Game 6 of the match when the resilient Petroff Defence proved to be a shrewd choice of opening. The champion eventually held a draw in a difficult endgame after a period of uncomfortable pressure.

...which is exactly how this blog started, when I summed up the game from 1986. A strange coincidence.

Thank you very much to:

Tereza, Nevil and everyone else at CSC who helped to create this marvellous opportunity.

Mrs Hollifield and the rest of the Ings Farm staff who pulled out all the stops at very short notice.

Hannah, Jacob, Naomi and Lola. I simply could not be more proud of you and they way in which you represented the whole of Teesside.

Tuesday 13 November 2018

Yarm Prep. School at the HMC Chess Championships

Today I travelled with three teams from Yarm Prep. School to the HMC Chess Championships.

 QEGS (Wakefield) proved to be excellent hosts once again.

Despite some excellent preparation, we were unable to stop RGS Newcastle from taking both the Under-9 and Under-11 titles.

Congratulations to RGS! We are already looking forward to playing at next year's HMC event, where we can hopefully close the gap a little more on the champions.