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, Raphaële, 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.

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