Sunday 30 June 2019

Secret Plans

A cup of tea and some secret summer chess plans. What better way is there to spend a Sunday morning?

Saturday 22 June 2019

Game Changer

It has certainly been a very busy week of chess on Teesside.

The 8th Teesside Individual Championship was followed by an appearance on BBC Radio Tees, then the 9th CSC Teesside Team Tournament and then two packed days of activities at The Links, centred around the Teesside International Women's  Invitational event.

Today brought the exciting return of Grandmaster Matthew Sadler and Woman International Master Natasha Regan to Yarm Preparatory School for talks, a simultaneous display and book signing, presented by Project 30.

Matthew and Natasha spoke about Alpha Zero and presented games which can be found in their excellent new book, Game Changer. They then played everyone simultaneously!

We had a fabulous day and I was delighted to see such a wonderful range of people participating, including local club players, teachers, parents and, of course, our extraordinary juniors.

I was particularly pleased to be able to utilise the Peter Pan window and curtains, which were on stage for a forthcoming school production. They made for a quirky placement of the demonstration board. 

A future report will take a look at the games - and reveal which of our local players managed to inflict a very defeat on the visiting superstars.

Meanwhile, this gallery should give a solid indication as to what went on and how much everyone enjoyed the occasion.

Thank you very much, everyone, for supporting our event. Special thanks go to Matthew and Natasha who had long journeys and still had plenty of energy to give everyone a fun and instructive day to remember.

A spot of lunch between the talks and the simultaneous display

These three remarkable juniors are the only ones (apart from me)
to attend every one of this week's chess events. Thank you, ladies!

With Sean Cassidy, CSC Tutor and a whole lot more
Matthew 1, Natashas 2
Thank you, Matthew and Natasha!

Friday 21 June 2019

Teesside International Women’s Invitation Chess Championship: Coaching and Playing

Today we were back at the Links Primary for the third and final part of this week's chess extravaganza.

The CSC team tournament had been played on Wednesday and the Teesside International Women’s Invitation Chess Championship was yesterday. Today the superstars spent their time playing and coaching all of The Links' players from Years 4, 5 and 6 in what turned out to be a magical experience for all concerned.

I must immediately thank all of the staff at The Links, who went a long way beyond the call off duty this week to make room - in more ways than one - for our extraordinary chess events. 

Spending a full day in a school reveals the full range of textures. In amongst the normal lessons of the typical school day we also saw in action art, P.E., engineering and...a hall full of dancing pirates. My views on the importance of enrichment in schools are already well known. The Links offers an excellent example of what I would always like to see in a school.

We started the day with a special chess assembly, during which I spoke to the children about the history of chess at The Links (from 1988, when I started there) and the story of Vera Menchik, after whom we named the trophy for the tournament.

I called out six of the school's best players to present all of the tournament's players with gold medals and the Vera Menchik trophy, which was, of course, won by Aga.

Then it was back to the chess room for a wonderful day of coaching and games with the children.

All of the children were magnificent - without exception. They were attentive, concentrating fully, ultra-polite and surprisingly good at chess considering they have been students of the game only since last September.

Aga teaching the Y5s

Aga teaching the Y6s. Make yourself at home, dear!
Time always goes uncomfortably quickly and before we knew it was time for the goodbyes - which I never enjoy.

Thank you to Jo, Aga, RaphaĆ«le, Gulbahor, Rayelynn and Sean Cassidy. For most, it was a case of very long journeys and also time spent away from home at a busy time of the year.

I am always greatly inspired by people who show such dedication and commitment and when I think about how much we (the children, the players and the school) have achieved together this week it will always be with a tremendous feeling of pride.