Wednesday 29 May 2019

Next Training Day

The Middlesbrough leg of the 2018-9 CSC Training Day Tour is just over a week away.

The day will explain all about the CSC and what we do and also demonstrate how we teach chess in schools and communities.

You don't need to be currently involved with schools, teaching or anything else. You don't even need to be from Teesside to enrol for this day.

Days such as these need your support and I am hoping to see plenty of Teessiders there on the day.

Enrol here.

Monday 27 May 2019

Topple the King

Project Scotland is undoubtedly one of the best, most enjoyable and  productive of all my CSC ventures.

Last week we caught up with some of the activities that are flourishing in Scotland, such as the Chess in the Park project and chess at Govanhill.

I made many excellent friends, such as Colin and Julien - both of whom are mentioned in the reports linked above - and many more besides during my time in Scotland.

It was in Govanhill back in October 2018, during my tour of Scotland, that I first met Mike McCafferty, who introduced me to his original version of dice chess, called Topple the King.

Mike came to the Glasgow Training Day the next day to support my event and also to demonstrate his game, all of which was very well received.

I have used dice chess for many years, starting back in the late 1980s with the Chuck-a-Chess dice, although the concept is much older than that, of course. In fact it is definitely possible to use standard dice and to allocate each number to one of the six chess pieces; after each roll one is only able to move a piece shown by the dice.

There were different versions of Chuck-a-Chess, with three and four dice. Topple the King uses just one dice for each player.

Dice chess is always good fun and the introduction of an element of luck is a great leveller in games between  players of different strengths. Anyone can beat anyone.

I have been testing Topple the King against juniors and seniors alike and even though having just one dice each sounds like a slow game, it actually leads to great tension as a king could be under attack for some time before it is either captured or manages to escape (there is no such as thing as check in this game).

When I spoke with Mike he was planning on having the dice mass-produced but costs were prohibitive. He had also had some thoughts on the potential for a TV series, complete with audience participation, all of which sounded very interesting.

Further information is available over at the Topple the King website.

Saturday 25 May 2019

CSC Training Day Tour 2018-9: Leeds

It was great to be back on the road for the CSC Training Day Tour, especially as our plans for the March and April tour dates had to change, meaning the last date was in Newcastle, two months ago.

This was our third time in Leeds and a warm welcome followed by a successful day is always virtually guaranteed.

Chess often takes place behind mysterious doors, including this one.

The weather was fine and the trains were on time (which had hardly been the story of the week). The delegates soon assembled and they brought an excellent set of skills and experiences from the worlds of teaching, libraries and competitive chess. Everyone had their own unique skills and everyone was in the mood to share. Comfort zones were triumphantly shattered. I could hardly ask for anything more.

One of our delegates was just 13 years old and already wanting to put back into chess more than he can ever hope to take out. This is a new record, breaking that of the two 14-year-olds who attended my Glasgow Training Day back in October 2018. Yes, the much-maligned youth of today really do know how to make a difference - and are not afraid to spread some much-needed positivity in this strange old world.

I was delighted to be reunited with my excellent friends Chris Fegan (CSC's Chief Operating Officer) and Dan Staples (Yorkshire's Regional Organiser, among many other things). Chris had travelled down from London to make the opening remarks and to see the delegates in action and Dan was there to answer questions about recruitment and various other topics. Dan also showed his exemplary hunter/gatherer skills when it came to lunchtime.

Meanwhile, there was plenty of food for thought on display too. All of the delegates rose to the challenges brilliantly.

I was genuinely thrilled to be working with such an excellent group of people and I didn't want the day to end.

Thank you, everyone! Now let us see what we can all go and create together.

We conclude with a gallery from the day, which will hopefully help to convey some of the hard work and fun we experienced during this excellent day in Leeds.

Wednesday 22 May 2019

Chess Archaeology: The Excavation of the Giant Chess Set

Many years have passed since we last used the giant chess at The Links Primary School.

Purchased back in 1995, the set was used several a times a week, both indoors and out, and proved to be a popular feature of our local chess scene.

These newspaper clippings survive, but the whereabouts of the chess set was a mystery when I returned to The Links two years ago.

From 2001
Now we have found it!

Today, together with some intrepid explorers from Year 5, I delved into the outdoor storage facility and unearthed the old pieces.

The pieces need a good wash, one black pawn is missing and what has happened to the big vinyl chessboard, we may never know...but we have plans to bring the set back to life!

Monday 20 May 2019

Chess at Govanhill

Today we continue our updates on the various projects seeded by Project Scotland.

I enjoyed my time at Govanhill Baths back in the Autumn of 2018 and the project has expanded considerably under Julien Papillon and Colin Paterson, both of whom are putting in a tremendous amount of energy hours to promote the game of chess.

There are sessions for beginners and a whole range of community activities.

All photographs in this post are © Julien and Colin.

Word is spreading and a recent donation of literature and equipment form Beardsen Chess Club boosted Govanhill's resources.

Find out more about the Govanhill Chess Club and their numerous activities by following their Facebook page.

Sunday 19 May 2019

Next Teesside Training Day

The next CSC Teesside Training Day will be on Thursday 6 June at the CLC Building, Acklam Grange School, Lodore Grove, Middlesbrough, TS5 8PB.

Our training days are ideal for anyone wanting to become involved in teaching chess and anyone already at one of our chess schools.

Head here for further details and an online enrolment form.

Thursday 16 May 2019

Chess In The Park 2019

Various circumstances prevented me from continuing Project Scotland this term. I missed seeing my friends and witnessing the continuation of various projects in which I was involved during 2018.

Last April I was there to present chess equipment to the Fountain Cafe in Edinburgh, to help their Chess in the Park community activity. I would have loved to see Chess in the Park make its opening moves of 2019. Maybe next year I will be there for 2020's launch...

Fortunately, the great Colin Paterson, who helped me considerably during the various parts of Project Scotland, was on hand to support the event and he sent me a number of excellent photographs of the day.

All photographs in this report are © Colin Paterson.

Colin's day of chess started before he even reached the park!

It must have been a cold April day for the launch of Chess in the Park 2019, but that certainly didn't deter people from attending.

Thank you, Colin!

More updates on Project Scotland will follow soon.

Gigafinals Open For Business

The Delancey UK Schools' Chess Challenge Gigafinals are now open for business.

All qualifiers need to head here:


Select the Megafinal from which you qualified and select the appropriate name from the list of players in the dropdown box.

Wednesday 15 May 2019

New North East Chess Events

Tim Wall, my very hard-working friend and CSC colleague, has announced details of two brand new chess events which will take place across the North East from October onwards.

Here is Tim's plan. Anyone interested in playing in the events should contact their local chess club (all clubs already have the details).

This is to confirm the proposed dates for the (FIDE-rated) 2019-20 North East League and North East Individual Championships.

North East League
Round 1: Sunday, October 13, 2019
Round 2: Sunday, November 17, 2019
Round 3: Sunday, December 1, 2019
Round 4: Sunday, January 19, 2020
Round 5: Sunday, February 16, 2020

North East Individual Championships
Rounds 1 & 2: Sunday, March 1, 2020
Round 3 & 4: Sunday, March 22, 2020
Rounds 5 & 6: Sunday, April 19, 2020

League Teams

Based on my canvassing so far, possible participating teams** include: Forest Hall & Gosforth (Northumberland); South Shields & Durham (Durham); Darlington & Middlesbrough (Cleveland)
**We welcome applications from any other teams that would like to participate. A final decision on the league lineup will be made in June 2019.
**Please note that teams do not have to be based on an existing league team or club, but can unite players from various clubs.

Possible venues*** for North East League & North East Individual Championships: 
We intend to announce the venues for the League and Championships in June 2019.
Possible venues include: Forest Hall, Gosforth, South Shields, Durham, Darlington, Middlesbrough/Teesside.
*** We would welcome offers of venues from around Tyne & Wear, County Durham and Cleveland.
*** We intend to spread the events evenly around the region, so that all players and teams get the chance for 'home' and 'away' venues, all within one hour's travelling distance.

North East League format:
6 teams of 5 players each. The League will be all-play-all.
Five rounds, each on a Sunday from October to February.
Matches start 2:30pm, finish 6:30pm
Time limit: All moves in 90 minutes, plus 30 seconds increment per move
All games will be FIDE-rated (Players will need to be ECF Gold members)
Teams will receive a total of 1 extra bonus game point per match if they include a minimum of a) 1 junior player under 18 years old; and additionally b) one male and one female player.
(Each category will give 0.5 bonus points)
The winning team will be awarded a trophy and receive medals, and there will be medals for the best individual performances.

North East Individual Championships format:
Three 6-round Swiss tournaments - Open, Major (Under 1975 FIDE / 170 ECF), Minor (Under 1700 FIDE / 140 ECF)
Open to all players born in, or resident in, Northumberland, Tyne & Wear, Durham and Cleveland.
Rounds to be played at the same venue on 3 Sundays in Spring 2020, 2 rounds per day.
Round times: 10:30am-2:30pm, 3:30pm-7:30pm
Time limit: All moves in 90 minutes, plus 30 seconds increment per move

All games will be FIDE-rated (Players will need to be ECF Gold members)

There will be a combination of cash and non-cash prizes, to be announced in June 2019.

The winner of each section will additionally be awarded a trophy and receive a medal.

There will be additional prizes for Best Rating Performance (compared to published grade/rating), Best Junior (Under 18) and Best Female Player in each tournament.

Entry fees will be announced in June 2019.

Sponsors are welcome for the North East Individual Championships.

Monday 13 May 2019

International Chess Challenge: New Moves

Both games in our International Chess Challenge were becoming interesting when we last saw them.

We now have an update on the moves.

Yarm Senior School v Hutt International Boys' School

White's last move was 10 Bxf4. Play now continued...

10 ...f6

11 Nd3 Bxf4

12 Nd3xf4

Pacing Black under pressure. 13 Nxc7+ is a big threat.

12 ...d6

Note how the black queen protects c7 from the knight fork.

13 Nxh5 Qf7

The black queen does not find a happy square and now White can force a material advantage.

14 Ndxf6+ Kf8

15 Nxf7 Nxf7

16 Qe2

The advantage is definitely with White and Black must hope for some big mistakes.

Meanwhile, over in the other game...

Park End Primary v Hutt International Boys' School
 White now put the king into safety with...

4 0-0

Black replied with 4 ...Nge7, preparing to do the same. Once both kings are safe the action will intensify.

Sunday 12 May 2019

8th Teesside Individual Junior Chess Championships

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

Event: 8th Teesside Individual Junior Chess Championships.

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

Please note - if you played in the recent Megafinal, that was at the Senior School just across the road from the Preparatory School.

Date: Saturday 15 June 2019

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-7s (Year 2s), Under-9s (Year 3s and 4s), Under-11s (Year 5s and Year 6s) and Over-11s.

The champions (Boys and Girls) of each section will receive the trophies and titles. 

Open to junior players in the boroughs of Stockton-on-Tees, Hartlepool, Redcar & Cleveland and Middlesbrough.

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 12 June 2019.

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 or another member of the control team. Children must alert the officials to any problems by raising their hand at the time. 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.

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, names or any other information.

The Arbiter's decision in all matters relating to the tournament
is final.

Any late announcements and updates will follow on here, on our Facebook page and via our Twitter account.

Saturday 11 May 2019

Teesside Megafinal 2019: Final Thoughts

This year's Megafinal saw an increase of entries from 120 to just under 150.

Megafinals are big events and there is a need to manage expectations and keep every achievement in context, which is an aspect we work very hard on at our schools.

Most of the children will face their toughest-ever games and it is important to prepare them for the moment.

We have a particular ethos at our Teesside events, designed to enable the children to enjoy the experience without feeling too much pressure.

I was very pleased to see this ethos in action again this year and every child became a better player after Sunday's event, no matter how many points they scored.

Thank you to everyone who played their part in making the day such a success, including my very hard-working friends Johannes Grundmann, Mike Pointon, Richard Harris and Sean Cassidy, the magnificent Yarm School staff, all of the parents, guardians and teachers, Sarah and Alex of the UKCC for their faith in Teesside and, most of all, the amazing children.

Tomorrow I will post details of our next Teesside junior tournament, so stay tuned...

Thursday 9 May 2019

Teesside Megafinal 2019: Gallery Two

We continue our coverage of the Teesside Megafinal with the second of our two galleries, depicting scenes from the prize giving ceremony.

A final piece, rounding off our coverage, will follow tomorrow.

All photographs in this report are © Mr Grundmann.