Wednesday 30 August 2023

ECF Book of the Year 2023: Shortlist

The Short List this year contains four books covering widely differing aspects of chess, but also in differing sizes ranging from the compact to very large. However, each one, whatever its size, fully covers its subject.

A Matter of Endgame Technique
Jacob Aagaard Quality Chess pp896 £39.99

This mammoth book is about technical play in the endgame and is aimed at players of a high level with a basic knowledge of endgame theory. Using positions from modern tournament practice, Aagaard takes the reader through the practical difficulties of winning, drawing and saving end games in depth. Aagaard writes “I am of the firm conviction that chess is a difficult game to play, but not too difficult to explain once you have analysed the games thoroughly.” This book, with its high quality analysis, does just that.

Chess for Schools

Richard James Crown House Publishing pp214 £16.99

There is increasing awareness to the value of learning chess in general education, but there have been no books in English on how to teach it. James brings a lifetime of experience in doing so and has now written this comprehensive book which fully covers how to begin. It is difficult to imagine a better book to give a non-chess playing schoolteacher starting chess classes for the first time. In view of the Prime Minister’s interest in supporting chess, this is a valuable and topical book as well.

How to Out Prepare your Opponent

Jeroen Bosch New in Chess pp416 £26.95

The subtitle ‘A Complete Guide to Successful Chess Opening Preparation’ fully describes the content of this book. Ever since chess first began players have tried to obtain the advantage in the first stages of the game. Today with the rising standard of play, availability of data bases and computers, it has become increasingly important to prepare properly for each opponent, because they may have prepared for you! Bosch, an experienced opening theoretician, and trainer, writes easily and well with a sense of humour.

The Pawn Study Composer’s Manual

Mikhail Zinar Elk and Ruby pp284 £24.95

Pawn studies may be a niche in the chess world, but this high-class book, written by a man who spent a lifetime composing pawn studies, demonstrates the richness and depth of the game. The reader will find instruction, enjoyment and inspiration therein. Zinar, a Ukrainian, died in 2021 and this edition was updated by Zinar’s close friend Tkachenko, “with my city (Odesa) being regularly bombed, which considerably slowed progress!”

— Ray Edwards, Jovanka Houska, Sean Marsh – 29th August 2023

Tuesday 29 August 2023

Back To School

Every year, as the Summer holiday draws to a close, it is the same old story, up and down the country…

‘I don’t want to go back to school!’

‘Why not?’

‘Everyone hates me - even the teachers!’


‘Yes they do; every day, someone calls me names or pushes me into puddles.’

‘Well, you are still going to have to go back to school.’


‘Because…you are the Headteacher.’

Stand By For Action

CSC Teesside is getting ready for the new school year and we are all excited to see what we can achieve in our schools this year.

We also have two new tutors for 2023-24.

In addition to Catherine Lloyd and Dave Edmunds, we are delighted to officially unveil Nicola Harrington and Chris Swales as new members of our excellent team.

Both have many years of experience when it comes to working in schools and bringing the best out of children.

We are all ready for action!

Tuesday 22 August 2023

Big Day Out

One was supposed to be in London today with a group from Park End Primary School, but the big chess event was cancelled at short notice.

Rather than let the children down completely, Ms Armes and I took them for a day of bowling, pizza, ice cream and laughs.

I would have liked to have shown the bowling scores, but unfortunately that is something which is ruled out by data protection.

If you have had just half as much fun as I have had today, then I must have had twice as much fun as you.

Saturday 5 August 2023

Library Visit

It was great to catch up with Sean C. and Nicky at their Stockton Library chess session today.

It is now six years since Sean C. and I started the club and it is still going very strong.

Sean C. has probably delivered more library sessions than anyone else in the country.

There were 23 people while we were there today and more arrived shortly after we left (with an almost exactly male/female split too).

Given that the rain was rarely less than absolutely torrential, the large attendance shows how well Sean C. and Nicky are doing to make the sessions vibrant and attractive to players of all ages and abilities.

It was also very good to see the incredible Alice Sturman, our most loyal junior of all.

Catherine found an excellent checkmate too.

Black had played very well up until the point his king decided to go for an ambitious walk.

Every White move now loses the game - expect for the one played in the game.

Can you see how to force checkmate on Black's king?

Here is a gallery from the fine day of chess.

Wednesday 2 August 2023

Angels Meeting

Today brought the latest meeting of Marsh’s Angels (or at least, 4/5 of them).

In between discussing plans for next season and solving checkmate problems, we launched an investigation to try and find out where the cherries from the cherry scones had gone.