Wednesday 11 December 2019

CSC Teesside at The London Chess Classic

My fifth day in London saw me reunited with my Teesside juniors and parents. This year the juniors were all from The Links Primary School. Of course, we had done some secret preparation for the event back in November.

We like Teesside to be represented at the London Chess Classic for a number of reasons but the distances involved (we are usually the ones who travel the furthest) mean we need to stay over on the night before the chess tournament.

Making as much use as possible out of any amount of time is a speciality of mine and we made sure there wasn’t a wasted minute during our time together in London.

Catherine Lloyd had masterminded the practical issues prior to the event and everything was in place weeks before the party boarded the train for King’s Cross.

Trains have been very problematic of late but this one was only 12 minutes behind schedule when I met my people at the station.

Once everyone had booked into the accommodation it was time to set off to see some of London, starting with the obligatory trip to Trafalgar Square. This was followed by further expeditions all over the place before we reconvened at the Royal Festival Hall.

Soon enough it was time to head to Victoria for tea and the traditional Wicked theatre experience, which was greatly enjoyed by all. We were joined at this stage by our special guest, Jo Hutchinson. The children remembered Jo from her shadowing at The Links and also from her participation in the Teesside Women’s International Tournament. It was a happy reunion.

Everyone was now ready to Defy Gravity at Olympia the next day.

Niamh, Lucy, Isla and Jessica enjoyed their morning experience of a lesson from a CSC tutor, followed by an hour in the main auditorium for a show by Grandmaster Chris Ward and International Master Lawrence Trent.

A short but welcome lunch break came next and then it was time to head into the tournament hall to compete against children from a whole range of schools. Each of the five week days brought in excess of 400 juniors to the main hall.

All four girls played very well and they all won some fine games. Niamh even managed to win a bronze medal for her magnificent score of three wins and two draws from her five games.

There was one more surprise; I invited Lucy to make the ceremonial opening move for Ding Liren on the main stage in the auditorium. This was not only in front of the auditorium audience but also beamed live to a worldwide audience via the Internet. Lucy’s move must have been a very good one as Ding went on to win the whole event.

We had just a little time to eat at King’s Cross before our intrepid Teesside stars boarded their train to return to the North East, with plenty of tales to tell their fellow Teessiders upon their return.

It should go without saying that our young stars gave their usual exemplary display of impeccable behaviour and proved themselves to be perfect ambassadors once more. Well done, everyone!

A dramatic sky heralded an exciting day ahead

Locating the hotel using their antenna
Making snow at Trafalgar Square

It was only as matter of time...

Looking innocent in the presence of the police
Getting a head start
Meeting a heavy metal fan on Southbank

Learning some new knight moves

A new gull friend

Still looking at chess!

What a Wicked evening!
A serious chess lesson at Olympia
Enjoying the Grandmaster show in the auditorium
Fuel for the tournament

Our chess parents being interviewed by roving reporter Tim Wall
A medal for Teesside!

Just before the Grandmasters arrived

Lucy takes to the stage!
Making the opening move for Ding Liren - as the chess world watches

Still watching the Gramdmaster games on our way out
The last tube journey

Our final time together - upstairs at King's Cross
Let's go back in time and do it all over again!

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