Monday 29 July 2019

Summer Sessions for the Home Education Group

Back in April I reported on my first session with a Teesside Home Education Group and mentioned we were all hopeful that more sessions could be arranged.

We did indeed manage to organise a sequel session and that took place today.

I could write at length about the merits of Home Education and how they compare and contrast with mainstream schooling and maybe one day I will, but on this occasion I think I will just let the photographs speak for themselves. 

We are very grateful to CSC who provided our group with some brand new chess sets and boards, which were very well received. The opening photograph shows me presenting the equipment to group leader Fiona, whose infectious positivity and desire to create opportunities for all is always inspirational.

Thank you, everyone! I had a great day working with you and am already looking forward to our next session.

Sunday 28 July 2019

Extra Library Sessions for Summer

The CSC library sessions are all going very well and are set to continue as we move through the Summer months. Please check with the library you intend to visit to make absolutely sure the session is on before you travel.

The details can be found here and here.

More good news: CSC Tutor and library supremo Sean Cassidy has sent me a message highlighting even more sessions.

Chess in the Summer 2019

These dates and venues have been confirmed by Stockton Library, and are all drop-in sessions, free, no need to book, for beginners to experienced players.

Library dates and venues

Fairfield; Tuesday 6th August

10.00 a.m. - 1.00 p.m.

Norton; Thursday 22nd August

Yarm; Friday 16th August10.00 a.m. - 4.30 p.m.

Nowhere is safe from chess on Teesside; it has NEVER been more accessible.

Drop in for a game, whatever your current level of skill.

Monday 22 July 2019

Chess Tournament: 2019 Northumbria Masters

I have received, from the indefatigable Tim Wall, the details of his next major event, which can be found as under.

Dear chess friends,

I am writing to invite you to play in the 2019 Northumbria Masters - some for the first time, and some hopefully for an enjoyable second visit. You will all be very welcome!

Last year, the 2018 Northumbria Masters was a great success, featuring a very strong field of 7 GMs and 11 IMs in a total of 50 players.

This year we have more space at a superb new hotel venue, Novotel Newcastle Airport, where the players and their families can stay and relax. Because of our new, bigger venue, we have no rating restrictions - in fact, we have three FIDE-rated sections (Masters - open to everyone), Challengers (U-2050) and Major (U-1825) running from 23-27 August, over the Bank Holiday weekend.

Starting on the morning of Friday August 23, we also have a one-day FIDE-rated Junior Rapidplay, with Under 11 and Under 14 sections.

Please do take a look at our entry form (online via our website and also attached to this email), and share it with your friends. Our partners Guaranteed Events Ltd have arranged a special room rate of £69 per person (single occupancy), and £79 per person (double occupancy) at Novotel Newcastle Airport. Please note: This is only available when booking through their dedicated website.

The hotel has 126 very comfortable rooms, has a spacious playing hall accommodating up to 120 players, a stylish restaurant and bar, and secluded outdoor picnic area. There is ample car parking at the hotel, which is free for all competitors, accompanying persons and spectators. It is also very convenient to get to: literally 300 metres from the A1(M) in Newcastle, just 3 miles from Newcastle Airport, and 4 miles from Newcastle Central railway station.

We aim to provide an enjoyable chess holiday experience for all participants and their families. With this in mind, players can order up to 3 half point byes in Rounds 1-8, and we are organising half-day excursions to the North East's most iconic tourist destinations: The castles of Northumberland (Alnwick, Lindisfarne & Bamburgh); Exploring Hadrian's Wall and the Segedenum Roman Fort museum; and a trip to the historic city of Durham, including its Castle and Cathedral. (More details of these trips will be available on our website shortly.)

As the Northumbria Masters is designed to provide title norm opportunities, we are offering special assistance to titled players. Entry for GMs, WGMs, IMs & WIMs is free, and we are also in a position to offer free accommodation to a number of these players with local chess players in their homes.

(For these and other conditions, titled players are requested to contact me personally. Accommodation with local hosts will be made available on a first come, first served basis.)

I look forward to welcoming you to Newcastle for what promises to be a great chess tournament and holiday experience!

Head here for further details, including the entry form and news of junior bursaries.

Friday 19 July 2019

End of the Year

We have now reached the end of another school year - and it has undoubtedly been our busiest to date.

A summary of the action will follow in due course.

For now, I must immediately thank everyone who has supported CSC Teesside over the course of this school year.

That includes our 16 curriculum schools, Yarm School, the wonderful staff in each one and the fabulous children who embraced the challenge of learning something new.

It also includes my tutors, CSC colleagues and all of the volunteer helpers in our library sessions - and to everyone with whom I worked on the extensive Training Day Tour.

Thank you to all of the parents, grandparents and guardians who who encouraged - and transported - the children to our tournaments and events.

Thank you to everyone who is not even connected to a school or club but who still follows our news here, on Facebook and on Twitter.

Thanks are also due to the critical few who prevent me from becoming lazy.

It is no secret that our schools are under immense pressure at the moment, with financial matters being the most tense and problematic of all areas. This makes the renewal process extremely difficult in some cases but I am delighted to say that CSC Teesside will be teaching chess in schools for more hours than ever before when we return to action in September.

That should tell you how dedicated the Headteachers of our schools are when it comes to the art of enrichment, despite being under severe pressure to justify their timetable choices via national league tables. Behind the laughter and the smiles there is an immense amount of hard work behind the scenes to keep all of the plates spinning.

I want to make Teesside even greater than it already is and this can be achieved by bringing in more schools and creating more opportunities for people of all ages to play chess.

We will be working on some fundraising ideas over the Summer in order to try and help more of our schools feel more secure about the funding aspect of chess.

If anybody out there is in a position (or has contact with someone who is) to offer financial support for our schools to continue their involvement and development with chess then please contact me directly via a private message.

We have worked, very successfully, with corporate bodies before and we would welcome the opportunity to do so again.

I cannot predict too much of the future but I can confirm I will return for my 32nd consecutive year of chess teaching in September.

Thank you, everyone.

Tuesday 16 July 2019

The Four Tutors

A rare photograph of all four CSC Teesside tutors, together for tonight’s end of year meeting.

Left to right: Sean Cassidy, Dave Edmunds, me and Richard Harris.

Friday 12 July 2019

Ahead of the Gigafinal

Our Teesside children will be battling it out in Manchester over the weekend against some of the UK's finest junior players, in the Delancey UK Schools' Chess Challenge Northern Gigafinal.

To reach the Gigafinal stage is a very fine achievement indeed and although some of our players will be dreaming of going through to the final stage of the competition it is important to manage expectations carefully.

Our players have worked extremely hard throughout the year and this willbe their toughest tournament yet. There are definitely no easy games at Gigafinals.

Regardless of what score they end up with, ALL of our players will do themselves, their families, their schools and the whole of Teesside proud.

I am sure all of our parents and guardians understand our ethos by now; we keep the pressure off the players and allow them to be children

All I want them to do now is to enjoy the experience, learn as much as they possibly can and use the Gigafinal as an inspiration towards future achievements (and not just in chess).

Thursday 11 July 2019


My life often resembles an unused script from The Goon Show.

A Y6 child said to me earlier this week: 'Someone told me that when we die we get to choose what we will be in the next life.'

'What would you like to be?' I asked.

'A giraffe,' she replied.

'What if you couldn't be a giraffe? Then what would you like to be?'

She paused for a short time, before saying: 'Another giraffe.'

This is the sort of surreal humour everyone is born with, but which gets hammered out of most people...but, thankfully, not all people.

'What time is it, Eccles?'

Monday 8 July 2019

New School for 2019-20

Today we started chess at our new school - Viewley Hill!

Everybody gave us a fabulous welcome and the children worked very hard all day.

The class sang Happy Birthday to my friend and colleague, Mr Cassidy. In fact they sang it twice, as they followed up a standard rendition with a ‘Viewley Hill special.’
We enjoyed our school lunch and I was even able to trade puns for some time with the chap who was in school to teach the children circus tricks (I ate a clown for lunch; it tasted a bit funny...etc...)

Full curriculum sessions will start in September and we are looking forward to seeing how much we can achieve together.

Welcome aboard, Viewley Hill - and thank you for an excellent first day!

Friday 5 July 2019

HQ Visit

Another surprise visit to CSC HQ to retrospectively reward the Champion of the Teesside International Women’s Invitational Tournament.

Cup of tea, Agnieszka? Biscuit? Flowers...? Game of chess...!?!

Thursday 4 July 2019

Staff Battle It Out

Our chess tournaments always have a competitive element, of course - but nothing compares to the snarling, posturing and evil plans shown during the annual Park End Staff KO Championship.

The winner will not be known until next week so we expect the players will be studying hard all weekend for the big games ahead.

Monday 1 July 2019

Project Scotland: Hidden Gardens

The fabulous work carried out by Colin Paterson and Julien Papillon as part of Project Scotland continues to impress.

Their latest leap came on Father's Day, with another of their excellent community initiatives, at The Hidden Gardens (part of Tramway.) This is a Glasgow Life (Council) Space.

I will let the photographs (© Colin and Julien) speak for themselves!