Friday 27 March 2020


The post has been arriving infrequently since the start of the emergency and after a few days of letter drought I was very pleased to receive a special burst of chess colour from none other than Napoleon himself!

Can Napoleon remain calm during the current crisis? Corsican!

CSC War Cabinet

Good afternoon, chess players.

I hope you are all being sensible and keeping safe during the current emergency.

You would be forgiven for thinking chess has taken a rest while the ongoing situation prevents our school visits.

However, in reality, the CSC War Cabinet is working very hard on a whole range of new and very exciting plans which we will unveil in due course.

I don't think anyone who likes chess will be disappointed in what we are going to offer in the near future.

We are missing our schools and pupils but please stay tuned, stay indoors and await further announcements. I know you will recognise these as good moves in the struggle against this new and dangerous opponent. We will win this battle if we all keep playing as best we can.

Wednesday 18 March 2020


This week, as the enormity of the world situation became apparent to me, I had to make some tough decisions which would have a major impact on my own lifestyle and, much more importantly, those of others.

 None of my decisions were taken lightly but I believe time will show them to be the correct ones.

Just like so many other self-employed people my entire future career is now precarious and uncertain.

We are on the verge of a complete lockdown in the UK. The coming months will be a major test for all of us, regardless of all factors. Rich, poor, educated, uneducated, qualified, unqualified, privileged, unprivileged; it doesn’t matter. The current problem is widespread and indiscriminate. It is going to change the lives of every single person. Numerous aspects of our lives will never be the same again.

The delay in closing the UK’s schools has not been helpful. I have watched as class sizes have been cut in half and have understood the panic and fear among the front-line workers - even though they have managed to remain completely professional at all times.

Teachers, more often than not the easiest target when people want to start gratuitously criticising others, have, alongside all other school staff, displayed immense courage and commitment in recent times. I know for certain that some of the staff are more at risk than others due to various ailments yet they have still been there every day to provide for the children.

The children have been magnificent this week too. They should not be going through this dreadful experience. Somewhere along the line they have been failed.

Now is not the time to judge the actions - or inactions - of others. The panic-buyers clearly have a much lower panic threshold than the rest of us. We do not know how we would act if we crossed our own personal thresholds. Perhaps we will soon find out.

I am very fortunate to have a small circle of special friends who will always be there to help me (and vice-versa, of course). Many others are nowhere near as fortunate; their instincts and actions will be different. We all have our own battles. Some of them are internal and highly damaging.

Every single person now faces unparalleled challenges, which would have been unimaginable just two weeks ago. We are at a crossroads where suddenly the differing scenarios of ‘everything is important’ and ‘nothing is important’ coexist.

I hope we can find a way to replace anger with understanding, to forestall hatred with love and to use kindness to navigate away from selfishness. This time, we all need to be on the same side.

Please take care, everyone.

We are all valuable and fragile in equal measure.

Tuesday 17 March 2020

Suspension of Lessons

My week of tough decisions continues.

I have decided that CSC Teesside will suspend chess sessions in all 16 of our curriculum schools after close of play on Friday 20 March.

Some sessions have already paused. Please check with your school if in doubt.

Richard, Dave, Sean C. and I will return to action as soon as possible once the current situation in under control.

I urge everyone to be as safe as you possible can.

Monday 16 March 2020

More Postponements

Following yesterday's statement, I unfortunately have to announce further chess postponements.

These are:

The Teesside UKCC Megafinal (scheduled for Sunday 3 May)

The Teesside Individual Chess Championship (Saturday 13 June, although the entry forms hadn't been circulated as yet)

The library sessions at Thornaby Library

The Third Project 30 Celebratory Tournament (Sunday 22 March)

Those who have already entered the Megafinal should await further instructions from myself and the UKCC.

I would very surprised if the other library sessions didn't follow suit very soon.

I would also be surprised if our schools stayed open beyond the end of this week.

It should be obvious how difficult it is for me to have to take such drastic measures but I simply have to put the health of the people first.

We have no idea how long the current crisis will last but rest assured I will be working flat out to try and get the above events back on the calendar as soon as the coast is clear.


It is my sad duty to report that my forthcoming CSC Training Day tour dates for Ipswich, Norwich, Sheffield, Leeds and Middlesbrough have been postponed due to the escalation of the virus situation.

Sarah Kett's CSC Training Days in Cardiff and London are similarly postponed.

Further details will be made available on the CSC website.

Additionally, David Smith's Saturday morning sessions at Middlesbrough Central Library will be suspended until further notice and the Third Project 30 Celebratory Tournament, scheduled for Sunday 22 March, will be postponed also.

These measures have not been taken lightly and unfortunately more postponements will almost certainly be announced in the very near future as we battle it out with a new and highly dangerous enemy.

Wednesday 11 March 2020

International Chess Challenge: Central Explosion

Last week saw the first captures in our International Chess Challenge, giving us this position.

Hutt International Boys' School (New Zealand) v The Links (England)
Hutt now blew open the centre with 11 exd5.

The Links had to be careful here as the natural-looking 11 ...Nxd5 would lose a piece to 12 Qxg4, as the knight would no longer be defending the bishop on g4.

After some consideration, which included discussing the options of 11 ...Nxd5, 11 ...Qc8, 11 ....Rh8 and 11 ....Na5, the class voted on 11 ...Bxf3 as their top choice.

Hutt International Boys' School (New Zealand) v The Links (England)
Now Hutt need to assess which capture is the best one to make. 

Tune in next week to see what happens!

Monday 9 March 2020

Lisa McGee Education Easter Mastery Days

Lisa McGee Education will be offering a whole range to activities for children over the Easter break, including STEM, arts, fitness and chess.

The Mastery Days will run from 8.00 a.m. - 5.00 p.m. on 6-9 April at Hutton Rudby Primary School. Chess will part of the Monday 6 April programme. 

Discounts are available for children from Hutton Rudby Primary School, Chandler's Ridge Academy, siblings, STEM Club attendees and those who attended the Lisa McGee Mastery Day in February. (Contact Lisa for discount codes.)

Head here for further details and an online booking facility.

Thursday 5 March 2020

CSC Training Day Tour: Norwich and Ipswich

We are breaking new ground again with tour dates for Norwich and Ipswich.

Click on the names to find the full details.



Wednesday 4 March 2020

International Chess Challenge: First Captures

The International Chess Challenge has now seen its first captures.

Last week brought this very tense position.

Hutt International Boys' School (New Zealand) v The Links (England)

Hutt now decided to make the game's first capture with 10 Bxg7 and The Links recaptured with 10 ...Kxg7, giving us this new position.
Hutt International Boys' School (New Zealand) v The Links (England)
Black's defence has now been slightly weakened on the dark squares, but on the other hand White no longer has a dark-squared bishop.

Will there now be more exchanges, or will the tension be maintained?

Tune in next week to find out...