Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Project 30: Two New Events

Time to announce two more aspects of Project 30.

So far we have started an Individual KO Championship and a Rapidplay Match Championship, both which have started well and will continue to run throughout the chess season.

We have also had a very impressive simultaneous display by WFM Sarah Hegarty at Ings Farm Primary School, in which the brilliant England International and former British Champion played - and defeated - 20 juniors all at the same time.

There are at least two more simultaneous displays by titled players in the pipeline for 2018.

Meanwhile, we can now announce two more brand new events.

New Event 1

An Outstanding Student trophy award for the person from each one of our CSC Teesside curriculum schools has most impressed the CSC tutors and teachers over the course of the school year 2017-8.

New Event 2

A problem solving tournament, open to all players at our CSC Teesside curriculum schools.

Full details will be circulated to the relevant schools in the near future.

Stay tuned for more Project 30 announcements...

Friday, 10 November 2017

Project 30: Sarah's Simul

Today brought a very special event for Project 30.

WFM Sarah Hegarty came to Teesside for a 20-board simultaneous display!

We had an excellent and hugely enjoyable day.

The full story can be found here.

Monday, 2 October 2017

Project 30: First Two Events Unveiled

As previously mentioned, Project 30 will bring the introduction of at least 14 new chess events for 2017-8. Some will be for juniors, some will be for seniors and some will be for both.

Other events will be open to the public and I am currently talking to four well-known titled players about some very special events.

There will be lots of announcements soon.

Today we can unveil the first two events for the senior players.

Project 30: KO Championship

Round 1

Peter Harker vs. David Wise

Mike Creaney vs. Matthew Jackman

Dave Edmunds vs. Brian Whitaker

Sean Marsh vs. John Garnett

Julian Allinson vs. David Baillie

Paul Weightman vs. Andrew Smith

Kevin Waterman vs. Richard Harris

Bernie Price vs. Sean Cassidy

Project 30: Rapidplay Match Championship

Round 1

Julian Allinson vs. Dave Edmunds

Richard Harris vs. John Garnett

Sean Marsh vs. David Baillie

David Wise vs. Matthew Jackman

Regular updates will follow...

Monday, 11 September 2017

Giving Something Back

My very good friend and CSC colleague David Hardy recently wrote a chess book and I have just posted a review here.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

8th Mike Closs Memorial Tournament - Report

As mentioned yesterday, today brought the 8th Mike Closs Memorial Tournament.

I replaced the unavailable defending champion Julian Allinson in this year's line-up, thus making my tournament debut after seven years of 'merely' being in the role of organiser.

The players had to pick a comedy-themed envelope to determine the pairings.
The others chose first and left me with Tony Hancock. Stone me, what a life!
Everything is ready and now I await the guest stars 
Play was soon underway. The four players had to play each other four times at 5-minute chess.

Kevin Winter
David Baillie - former champion of this event
and the only person to have played in all eight.
Richard Harris
Me, hard at work
Richard arrived with gifts! He had spent part of the morning baking excellent blueberry muffins. Chess tournaments are civilised here at Marsh Towers.

The scores of the first cycle of games were:

Sean Marsh: 5.5/6
Kevin Winter 3.5/6
David Baillie 3/6
Richard Harris 0/6

I drew against Kevin in the final game of the first cycle when Kevin should really have won.
Enjoying the muffins at half-time
The second cycle saw the pace increase and brought the most closely contested games.

Scores of the second and final cycle of games:

Sean Marsh: 4.5/6
David Baillie 4/6
Kevin Winter 3.5/6
Richard Harris 0/6

I lost the final game of the event when I missed a key move in Kevin's attack. I had a lost position in one of the games against David too but managed to hold a draw.

Final scores:

Sean Marsh: 10/12
David Baillie 7/12
Kevin Winter 7/12
Richard Harris 0/12

All of the games were hard-fought and many sacrifices were played. Mike would have enjoyed the games, that's for sure.

Lunch after the tough battles
Thank you, everyone. The 9th Mike Closs Memorial Tournament will definitely go ahead in 2018.

Saturday, 9 September 2017

8th Mike Closs Memorial Tournament

Tomorrow brings the 8th Mike Closs Memorial Tournament, which is set to feature a small yet competitive group of players who will play 12 rounds of 5-minute chess games in memory of my great friend.

I have written about Mike many times here at Marsh Towers, as a judicious use of the search box will definitely reveal.

We first played each other at chess while still at our respective schools and went on to become very close friends and club mates at Guisborough, Redcar and Elmwood. Playing side-by-side for our teams we enjoyed a remarkable run of success at Guisborough (winning the league title for the first time in 50 years) and Elmwood (regularly winning the league and the Tom Wise KO Cup). We tended to win the same individual honours too, such as the Cleveland Championship, the Northern Counties Chess Union Championship, the Redcar Congress and the championships of our three mutual clubs.

We helped each other prepare for key games and were in touch with each other virtually every day from just after leaving school all the way until the terrible news came through of his extremely untimely death.

We played each other many times too, in the Cleveland Championship, the championships of the three aforementioned clubs, an assortment of tournaments and even when we played for different teams. Our games were usually full of fighting, creative chess as we constantly tried to get the better of each other. Despite working together so closely, we always had different styles and different openings.

Our friendly rivalry provided plenty of inspiration for both of us as we made our way up to the top of the local grading lists and, playing together, offered a difficult and challenging match for all-comers.

Things have never been the same since that fateful day back in 2010.

We still meet and play chess...but now it is only in my vivid dreams. For an indeterminate amount of time we are back as we were: playing, analysing, talking. Always semi-aware I am caught in a dream, I feel reluctant to wake up and break the spell created by our moves and games.

Once a year I organise a tournament in his honour. I feel sure he would have approved of the event. 

2010 sometimes feels like five minutes ago but are already up to the eighth tournament in the series.

Reports on the previous events can be found by clicking on each of the following links:

7th Memorial Tournament

6th Memorial Tournament

5th Memorial Tournament

4th Memorial Tournament

3rd Memorial Tournament

2nd Memorial Tournament

1st Memorial Tournament

Tomorrow's tournament promises to be as exciting as the others. A full report will follow here in due course.

Sunday, 23 July 2017


Sit down. We need to talk.

Suddenly we are at the end of the third and final term of the 2016-7 school year. All of the hopes and the fears for the year have been tied up, like so many plot lines, and then everyone will now move on, ever-upwards through the system, until they reach their ultimate destination.

Teachers celebrate the end of the school year for a variety of different reasons: job well done; crowd controlled; a well-earned rest ahead; a new school year on the way. Clean slate; clean SMART board. Yet for me the final half-term of any school year is always my least favourite.

We achieved a lot during my 29th year in schools. We broke all records for attendance in all of our main tournaments, brought more schools on board, pioneered more brand new ideas - including training days for parents - and attracted considerable publicity along the way, culminating in a special feature on ITV's Tyne Tees News.

The story may remain the same, but we use moving pictures and colour these days.

Press shot - 1988
Screen shot - 2017
And yet...I wanted to achieve more. Time - the great essential, which we should try never to lose - once again pulled the rug from under our feet, leaving some plans frustratingly short of fruition. It seems like no time at all since the 2015-6 school year drew to a close.

We build things up and time relentlessly tears them down. It bothers me. I always end up feeling I am just the other side of fulfilment.

There are times when I am tempted to tell the full story of my 29 years and to record my exact thoughts regarding people, places and events. Yet each time the notion surfaces it is tempered by the wise words of Edgar Allen Poe:

'If any ambitious man have a fancy a revolutionize, at one effort, the universal world of human thought, human opinion, and human sentiment, the opportunity is his own – the road to immortal renown lies straight, open, and unencumbered before him. All that he has to do is to write and publish a very little book. Its title should be simple–a few plain words –"My Heart Laid Bare." But – this little book must be true to its title.'


'But to write it – there is the rub. No man dare write it. No man ever will dare write it. No man could write it, even if he dared. The paper would shrivel and blaze at every touch of the fiery pen.'

I understand the task must wait a little longer.

There have been many huge changes in schools over the three decades and the wider world has hardly escaped unscathed. Governments and systems of belief have come and gone (none of those ever interested me anyway), as have many people who were and are dear to me. Virtually everyone seems to take offence at virtually everything. All these years on from the 1980s and anger is still an energy - but it is allowed burn itself away on trivial matters.

I feel the need to work harder as I grow older and to create more events, reach more people and achieve more than any given previous year.

To that end I would like to announce I am working on a series of special events to celebrate what will be my 30th year when the schools return to action in September.  

The following are currently in the planning stages (other ideas are also in the mix):

New tournaments

Special chess events featuring guest stars

Special events featuring inspirational people

Reconnections with former team mates and colleagues

A series of matches against old friends

An end of year celebratory event

We've done it before, you know...and we still have some jokes left over
In the words of Claude Cahun:

'Under this mask, another mask.
I will never finish removing all these faces.'

Further details will follow in due course...