Saturday 30 April 2022

Setting Up

Just setting up for tomorrow’s Delancey UK Schools’ Chess Challenge Teesside Megafinal.

150 children will soon be in action.

One more sleep and we will be at our first Megafinal since 2019!

Wednesday 27 April 2022

Chess Visits

It was very good to spend the day with Chess Tutor Mr Harris at The Links and The Avenue for their chess curriculum sessions today.

The children were excellent and Mr Harris was on great form, as usual. 

I particularly enjoyed the parts when children in two different classes asked Mr Harris if I was his son.

Thursday 21 April 2022

Delancey UKCC News

Sarah and Alex Longson of the Delancey UK Schools' Chess Challenge have released a major update for this year's events - including details on playing chess at Blenheim Palace!

Full Event Calendar Now Confirmed

With 17 ‘over-the-board’ Megafinals plus online options available we’re delighted to confirm all dates for the 2022 Delancey UKCC calendar have now been announced.

The Terafinal is again taking place at the fabulous Blenheim Palace, the seat of the Dukes of Marlborough, on the weekend of 15/16 October.

We are also running a Challengers event on 17/18 September at the Mercure Daventry Court Hotel with similar conditions to Terafinals gone by.

To register for a Megafinal there are two options:

1) Parents register directly via the website

2) Schools can register and pay for players in bulk (discounts available)

If you wish to takeup the second option please get in touch via

There are three Gigafinal dates:

Northern (Manchester) - 9th and 10th July

Southern (Harrow) - 23rd and 24th July

Online - 3rd and 4th September

Check out the full UKCC 2022 calendar.

The latest Megafinals to be added are:

Edinburgh – 28th May

Somerset – 12th June

Shropshire – 25th June

The full list is below (includes quick links to event page):

Saturday 30th April – Surrey U9s Megafinal (only a few spaces left)

Sunday 1st May – Teesside Megafinal (last few spaces remaining)

Online Megafinals 18/19 June and 2/3 July

Hope to see your students at a chess event soon!

Kind regards
Sarah Longson
CEO – UK Chess Challenge

Four New Training Days

Four new Chess in Schools and Communities Training Days have been announced (Oxford, Hampshire, London and Cardiff).

The details can be found here.

Sunday 17 April 2022

Managing Great Expectations

The Teesside Megafinal will soon be here and it seems to be a good moment to think about general expectations.

The vast majority of children play in Megafinals so they can have fun, enjoy the company of their friends, make new friends and to test their chess skills against children from other schools. Their level of play will almost certainly improve as a consequence.

Chess tournaments can be tough, especially if a player has unrealistic expectations going into the event.
Mixing wins with a similar number of defeats is perfectly logical expectation. Expecting to win every game without any particular difficulties along the way is not so logical.

Occasionally, it is reported to me that a child is 'heartbroken' or 'devastated' after (what they see as) an unsuccessful tournament performance. It goes beyond hyperbole, because the parents in question really do appear to believe that what they are saying is true.

This usually isn't far away from those who claim they want their child to learn the art of resilience through chess, only to claim, retrospectively, that not only did their child have to play strong opponents but also that their opponents cheated in every game.

If expectations are realistic then we wouldn't have to navigate through so much smoke and so many mirrors.

We never apply pressure to our pupils to perform at tournaments either in our chess classes or on a one-to-one basis.

We cannot monitor or control parental pressure, but we do find ourselves having to deal with the aftermath.

I have plenty of stories to tell another time, including how a parent threatened to set his Rottweiler dogs on me after his son failed to win a game.

For now, here is a reminder of the ethos of our Teesside tournaments:

'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.'

Friday 15 April 2022

Teesside Megafinal: COVID Protocols

As the Teesside Megafinal approaches, it is a good time to remind everyone that COVID-19 is still very active and to highlight our event protocols.

It is very important that everyone feels as safe and comfortable as possible on the day and this can be achieved if we respect the following.

Please do not attend the tournament if you feel unwell or are showing any signs or symptoms of COVID-19.

Please respect other people’s wishes to apply social distancing.
Sanitise your hands regularly throughout the day and please follow other COVID-19 procedures when asked to do so.

The wearing of masks is optional but is encouraged in particularly busy areas.

Our chess rooms will be well-ventilated for the duration of the event.

Please alert a member of the tournament team as soon as possible if you are feeling unwell or unsure of the active procedures on the day.

Wednesday 13 April 2022

The Cycle Must Be Broken

An important aspect of working in schools is to help children to try their best, respect others, show manners and grace, learn from their experiences, develop confidence and resilience and to help others. 

Also, that everyone is unique.

In short - to set a good example.

People 'above' us, the ones who love power but perpetually shake responsibility, revel in doing exactly the opposite.

Liars, crooks and cheats know how to 'get on' but despite their exalted status they have no desire whatsoever to set a good example to anyone.

Just imagine if all school staff behaved in such a sneeringly deplorable manner.

Yes; things would be even worse than they are now.

Role models are needed now, more than ever before.

The cycle must be broken.

Friday 8 April 2022

Another Busy Term

Today brings another busy school term to its conclusion.

This week, I cross-crossed Teesside to spend time with our excellent CSC tutors Mrs Lloyd, Mrs Hutchinson, Mr Edmunds and Mr Cassidy (Mr Harris is the only one to whom I did not manage to pay a visit this time).

Mr Edmunds played the classes through the screen!

We have worked very hard this term. It is not always easy and each class presents its own unique challenges.

Yet, as the outside world becomes increasingly more dangerous and ridiculous, we have all been enthused and inspired by the dedication, commitment and sheer joy of the children in all of our schools. 

Let us not forget that this is only the first full school year back since the outbreak of the global pandemic. Everyone is tired and there are numerous challenges in all of our lives: some public; some private.

I hope everyone will be able to find some peace over the course of the Easter break. Whoever - and wherever - you are, you have earned the right to take a rest.

CSC Teesside has a busy Summer term ahead and our Megafinal is coming up very soon. Incidentally, there are currently only 19 places remaining, so please book as soon as possible if you have yet to do so.

Tuesday 5 April 2022

Megafinal Update

We are now down to the last 31 places for the Delancey UK Schools' Chess Challenge Teesside Megafinal.

If you are thinking about entering then please remember that the entries will lock once we reach 150 and no more will be possible.

Click here for the online entry page.

Monday 4 April 2022

Live Commentary Recording

If you missed my live commentary on Sunday's ECF Charity Blitz Marathon for Ukraine you can watch a recording of it here.

51 minutes and 17 seconds in; 70 minutes in total.

It was the only part of the 24 hours to feature a Sophie Ellis-Bextor mug.

Sunday 3 April 2022

ECF Blitz Marathon for Ukraine Commentary

Commentating on the ECF Blitz Marathon for Ukraine with Natasha Regan and Matthew Sadler was a lot of fun.

Thank you to my friends who got up early on a Sunday morning to support the event.

Head here for more commentary and details of how to donate.