Monday, 23 April 2018

Project 30: Chess for Life Event (3)

Project 30's big chess event brought GM Matthew Sadler and WIM Natasha Regan to Yarm School for a full day of exciting activities.

In the first part of our special report we looked at the lectures and in the second we recalled the practical exercises.

Immediately after the short lunch break it was time to set up for the big simultaneous display, in which our stars would play alternate moves (known as a 'tandem simultaneous display') on 32 separate boards. This is a very large number of people to play simultaneously. Most displays feature 20 people, give or take a couple.

The point of such events is to level up the playing field as much a possible. The titled players are clearly better at chess than anyone else in the room but their strength is potentially diluted by having to move as soon as they appear at each board, by the potential differences in their independent plans and by having to think about 32 different positions, all going on at the same time.

Juniors - aged eight upwards - were joined by parents, teachers and a couple of local club players.

Just before play started, the competitors were given the opportunity to buy a copy of Chess for Life and to have it signed by Natasha and Matthew. We were very pleasantly surprised by how many people made the most of the opportunity!

The games were a delight to watch, as Matthew and Natasha sped around the big square of tables, both concentrating hard so as not to fall for any devious traps.

Showing real class, the stars allowed the players a choice of colour and even played a second game against those who lost within the first hour or so.

There were lots of great games before the final checkmate was delivered, making it a score of at least 32-0 to our visitors (plus however many extra games they allowed - possibly closer to 40-0 in total).

What a fabulous display!

Congratulations to everyone who took part and especially to Matthew and Natasha, who kept smiling and encouraging all of the players throughout the event.

There are still a few more reports to come, as we have lots more pictures and some moments from the games to show.

Project 30: Chess for Life Event (2)

Yesterday we reported on the first part of the fabulous Chess for Life event featuring GM Matthew Sadler and WIM Natasha Regan.

Following the lectures, our star guests set everyone to work on a practical exercise based on the main theme of Natasha's talk - the minority attack.

Matthew and Natasha were both on hand to deliver expert advice on the individual boards.

Seeing so many minority attacks in action at the same time can be hungry work and just before the big simultaneous display we took a short break at the Mockingbird in Yarm, where we were joined by Cleveland Chess Association Chairperson Brian Whitaker and Pamela Whitaker.

Suitably refreshed, our stars were now ready to take on 32 players of all ages abilities and you can read all about that next time.

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Project 30: Chess for Life Event (1)

Project 30 continued in fine style with a thoroughly enjoyable showcase event at Yarm School yesterday.

Excitement had been building since my initial announcement at the start of March and I can say straight away that even though I knew it would be a great event, it exceeded my expectations.

Grandmaster Matthew Sadler and Woman International Master Natasha Regan presented a fabulous day of events, with lectures, practical exercises, a big simultaneous display and book signings.

ECF Book of the Year, 2016
Several more reports and lots more photos will follow, but today we focus on the chess lectures.

Matthew (England International, twice British Champion, gold medalist at the 1996 Chess Olympiad - and he once beat former World Champion Anatoly Karpov in 13 moves - with Black!) started the day with an excellent interactive discussion of the famous game Paul Morphy against the Duke and Count. This immediately brought the best out of the packed audience, who were eager to add their own input to the discussion.

Natasha (England International, strong WIM and author of great renown) followed Matthew's discussion of a tactical game with a close look at some positional themes, paying particular attention to the games of Grandmaster Keith Arkell (who, incidentally, gave three simultaneous displays on Teesside back in the 2000s as part of our Chess Links Project).

Natasha, just like Matthew, really brought the subject to life and already, after the first hour or so, everyone in the room had learned some important ways in which to improve their respective ways of playing and assessing important details.

The assembled juniors, parents, teachers and club players thoroughly enjoyed both lectures 

One unexpected bonus was the presence of Tony Mowbray (current head coach of Blackburn Rovers) who was absorbed in the content of the lectures and later engaged both Natasha and myself in very interesting conversations regarding the correlations between chess strategies and the art of adopting different approaches in football matches.

What a great start to the day! But there was plenty more to come...

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Forest Hall Chess Congress

A reminder about a chess event in Northumberland, 27-29 April, organised by my friend and colleague Tim Wall.

Adults and juniors are all welcome.

Full details can be found here.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Find the Hat!

During my recent Edinburgh expedition I made a number of new friends, including Dennis Anderson.

Dennis told me of his visit to the Marshall Chess Club in New York. The club is named after Frank James Marshall, a former World Championship challenger and a player noted for his ambitious, lively style.

Dennis was the proud owner of a Marshall Chess Club hat but somehow it was lost as he traveled by train from Weymouth to Bath. The train may well have had a good clean out at Bristol.

Dennis would love to be reunited with his hat (unfortunately such hats are no longer available from the Marshall Chess Club), so if anyone has it or knows where it may be then please get in touch. 

A reward is available!

Monday, 16 April 2018

Broadway Return

My third visit of this school year to Broadway Junior School in Sunderland proved to be just a enjoyable as February's expedition.

It is a running theme that whenever I go to Sunderland, the sun is always out (with one very notable exception) and today continued the run, with the sunniest North East day for some considerable time.

The children were on excellent form and they all worked very hard for me.

We tested and refreshed their knowledge from my previous visits, analysed various checkmate patterns together and then set the children to work on a written checkmate test of their own.

The test questions were tough one but everyone worked very hard indeed. Seven people shared the top spot as 'champion solvers' with the fine score of 5/6.

We concluded each session with a number of games, during which the children were very keen to impress with their knowledge of controlling the centre and keeping the king safe by castling.

We even introduced the en passant rule but that will take a little longer to grasp!

It is simply wonderful to work such a very enthusiastic group of people and, as usual, I was sad to see the time fly by too quickly and turn once again from chess time to home time almost in the blink of an eye.

Thank you to all at Broadway and to my friend and colleague Ms Hastie, who has supported chess and the CSC for many years.