Monday 30 September 2019

25th Yarm Team Chess Championships: Reminders

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: 25th Yarm Team Chess Championships.

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

Date: Saturday 5 October 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-9s (Year 3s and 4s) and Under-11s (Year 5s and Year 6s). The children in this section will play for their own school teams.

We will also have a special section for Over-11s, which will feature a selection of specially invited players. For this section, I will arrange all of the players into teams of roughly equal strength.

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 2 October 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 (Sean Marsh). Children must alert the Arbiter to any problems by raising their hand. 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.

As stated on the entry form, 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.

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

We cannot accept late entries and will definitely not be able to take extra entries on the day.

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.

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

Tuesday 24 September 2019


I had just finished two sessions with the excellent Year 3 children of Park End Primary when I dashed to catch the bus to my next school. It is hard to believe that a woman boarding the bus with a pushchair could have sparked off such a ferocious row as the one I witnessed shortly afterwards. An older lady and her younger companion steadfastly refused to budge an inch from their seats, which just happened to be in the space reserved for pushchairs. When another lady came forward to move the older lady’s walking trolley a couple of inches to the left to make room for the pushchair, all manner of absurd behaviour and extremely foul language broke loose.

This went on until the angry couple finally disembarked. They managed to swear and shout directly into the faces of the vast majority of the other passengers along the way, before delivering an even louder finale directly at the driver, accusing him of causing the entire problem by letting the pushchair on in the first place.

It was all small-league stuff in the grand scheme of things and no more embarrassing than anything we see on the news every evening. Yet the immediate contrast between the hard-working young children I had been with minutes before the disgraceful scenes erupted on the bus was very stark indeed. It is even possible the perpetrators of the ugly scenes are related to the children with whom I worked.

I moved on to Whale Hill Primary and enjoyed a very fine afternoon with children from Year 2 to Year 6. They all worked hard and were keen students who just wanted to learn as much as possible. They were polite, well-mannered and fully engaged in our lessons.

Middlesbrough was recently named as the most deprived area in the country and it sometimes seems as if such a nonsense of a title could be used as a catch-all excuse for all manner of extreme human behaviour.

It isn’t - and it should never be.

Nobody has to end up with anger and aggression as their default setting.

I have consistently championed the cause of the young over the course of more than three decades. I have never wavered from the belief that they can go on to create a better world, despite the increasing number of difficulties placed in their way.

Our children and teachers are working very hard indeed to make the absolute best of what they have. Scratch away the veneer of the ugly modern world and you will find so many wonderful people, so many success stories and so much to enjoy.

Never stop believing that good people - of all ages - can make a very significant difference.

Tuesday 17 September 2019

Lenzie Junior Chess Congress

Project Scotland continues to fire on all cylinders.

Colin Paterson has sent me an update regarding the Lenzie Junior Chess Congress, 'the first Junior Tournament organised for Glasgow in many years. The tournament has been organised by Lenzie Chess Academy in association with Chess Scotland.'

'The new chess season started with a bang yesterday. Congratulations to our two overall winners, Liam Heron (Cumbernauld) and Jack Egan (South Morningside). I'll publish a full list of winners and gradings when I have them. In the meantime here are some photos of yesterday's action.

Many thanks to all the people who helped make it a special day at Lenzie Junior Congress today, especially Tom Moffat at The Pyramid, Gayetri & Aileen for doing the tuck shop, the arbiting team of Alisdair Maxwell, Ian Brownlee, Derek McAteer and Colin Paterson, our friends at Prestwick & Greenwood Chess Clubs for their financial donations and not forgetting Ashish, for the tea!'

This is all excellent and it is very clear to see that Colin is developing junior chess in Scotland in fabulous fashion.

Head for the Lenzie Chess Academy Facebook page for further information.

All photographs in this report are © Colin Paterson

Monday 16 September 2019

Library Update: Summer Activity

CSC Teesside chess tutor Sean Cassidy, the Stockton chess library king, had a very busy Summer.

Sean organised special sessions in the Fairfield, Norton and Yarm libraries.

These were in addition to his weekly sessions at Stockton Central Library and Ingleby Barwick Library.

As can be seen from these photographs of last week's Stockton session, library chess appeals to many people of all ages.

Well done, Sean!

Wednesday 11 September 2019

Game Changer: Best Game

Back in June we enjoyed the fabulous Game Changer event, presented by Grandmaster Matthew Sadler and Woman International Master Natasha Regan.

Now that the Game Changer book has made it to the shortlist of the English Chess Federation Book of the Year contest it seems a good time to look back at the best game from June's exciting event, which saw the dynamic duo of Natasha and Matthew stumble to their first-ever defeat on Teesside.

White: Matthew Sadler and Natasha Regan
Black: David Baillie

1. e4 e6 

Natasha and Matthew were not to know, but David, a former county champion is a renowned expert on the French Defence...

2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Bb4 

...and in the Winawer Variation in particular. So much so that he once played the White side of it against me in a local league match, which meant he had to play a rare (for him) 1 e4.  The immediate point of 3 ...Bb4 is to pin the knight and threaten 4 dxe4. There are some lines in which White sacrifices the pawn for attacking chances, but 4 e5 is easily the most popular move for White.

4. e5 

A typical pawn structure for the French Defence. White hopes the e-pawn will give a space advantage for some time, enabling good attacking chances. From Black's point of view the centre is a target which can be attacked in various ways.

4 ...Ne7 5. Bd3 c5 6. a3 Bxc3+ 7. bxc3 Qa5 

Black is now hoping the weakened white pawns will be a liability. 

White is still looking to utilise attacking options, which often involve bringing the bishop pair to life...

8. Bd2 c4 

...which is why Black tries to keep the bishops quiet by locking the pawn structure in place. 

9. Be2 Nbc6 10. h4 

An ambitious plan by White, trying to clamp down on Black's space as much as possible. Note the king has yet to castle though and now that both flanks have weaknesses it may have to take its chance by staying in the centre.

10 ...Bd7 11. Nh3 O-O-O 12. a4 f6 

This standard French break is aimed at breaking up some of the centre. If it works, the uncastled White king will start to feel uncomfortable.

13. exf6 

White could have tried 13 Bg4, giving Black the option of blocking it up with 13 ...f5 or heading into the murky complications with 13 ...fxe5 14 Ng5.

13 ...gxf6 14. Nf4 Rhg8 

Black's moves seem easier to find than White's and David's tremendous experience in such positions helps him to find the correct plan in order to seize initiative.

15. g3 Nf5 16. Nh5 Rdf8 17. Bf3 e5 

Black is doing very well indeed after this central thrust.

18. Kf1 e4 19. Bg2 e3 

An excellent move which is highly consistent with previous play. White's position is in real danger of falling apart completely.

20. Bxe3 Nxe3+ 21. fxe3 Qxc3 22. Bxd5 Bg4 

Another very strong move, this time using the bishop that is often criticised in the French Defence, as it can often end up stuck behind the pawns for most of the game. White's best now would be to offer a swap of queens with 23 Qe1, to try and take some of the sting out of Black's considerable attack. After 23 ...Qxe1+ 24 Kxe1 Bxh5 25 Bxg8 Rxg8 Black still has the advantage but it would not be as large as in the game.

23. Bf3 

The natural move - especially when playing lots of games simultaneously and quickly - but it leaves the a1-rook to its terrible fate.

23 ...Bxf3 24. Qxf3 Qxa1+ 25. Kg2 Qc3 

Black's extra rook is clearly a winning advantage, but in simultaneous displays it is always worth playing on for a while as the unusual circumstances can lead to very strange things happening.

26. Nxf6 Nxd4 

Another smashing blow by Black. 27 exd4 Qxf3+ 28 Kxf3 Rxf6+ would simply be an excellent liquidation for Black, as White would have very little left with which to try and cause any problems.

27. Qd5 Qd2+ 28. Kh3 Rxg3+ 

Very nice; Black's extra material turns into useful ammunition.

29. Kxg3 Qxe3+ 30. Kg4 Qe2+ 31. Kg5 Ne6+ 32. Kf5 Qh5+

Another sacrifice, but 33 Kxe6 Rxf6+ 34 Kxf4 Qxd5 would win the queen. 

33. Ke4 Qg6+ 

At the very least, Black is going to capture the white knight for nothing and keep White's king in mortal danger, so it was time for White to resign. 0-1 

Notice how neither of the white rooks moved during this game.  A very powerful performance by David. 

Monday 9 September 2019

25th Yarm Chess Championships - Entry Now Open

Hot off the press!

The 25th Yarm Chess Championships is an event for school teams of four players from anywhere on Teesside.

I have just emailed a form to all 16 of our CSC curriculum schools and all six of our chess libraries.

The tournament has sections for Under-9s and Under-11s and once again I will be running a section for older children, for which I will compose the teams nearer the time.

Jo Wins The Kendal Award

Photograph © Jo Hutchinson
The Appleby Frodingham Sports and Social Club ('AFSSC') in Scunthorpe presents the Kendal Award each year, to individuals who are making a big difference in their local community.

This year the award has been won by Jo Hutchinson. Jo's contribution in this particular case is, of course, in the world of chess, where she runs the junior club, visit schools, plays in the local leagues, captains a team and is unfailingly supportive and always highly positive in her outlook.

Jo - who said 'I am delighted and honoured to have received this award' is no stranger to chess on Teesside or this blog either, having spent a significant amount of time on Teesside this year and also been present during all three of my 2019 expeditions to Hull.

Reports on all of our mutual events can be found via the following links.

Teesside International Women’s Invitation Chess Championship

English Women's Championship 2019

Part 3

Photograph © Jo Hutchinson
I am very proud of my excellent friend for winning this prestigious award. Congratulations, Jo!

New Glasgow Junior Event

Project Scotland continues to thrive and news has reached me from the invaluable Colin Paterson of 'the first Junior Tournament organised for Glasgow in many years. The tournament has been organised by Lenzie Chess Academy in association with Chess Scotland.'

Friday 6 September 2019

2019 English Women’s Championship (3): Tournament Gallery

We conclude our coverage of the 2019 English Women’s Championship with a gallery from various rounds of the tournament.

Congratulations to WFM Louise Head and WGM Katarzyna Toma on sharing first place in very dramatic fashion (more detail on that aspect will follow in my article for CHESS Magazine).

The picture above was taken just before the start of the final round and, despite the palpable tension of the title race, Sarah Longson, Louise Head, Rayelynn Posadas and Katarzyna Toma were still more than able to give the camera warm smiles.

Congratulations too to the organisers (especially Stephen Greep and Chris Fegan) and to all of the other players and personnel who made the event such a huge and important success.

I felt extremely honoured to be a part of this very special event.

See you all again next year...!?