Tuesday, 25 August 2020

Project 30: Online Rematch

Project 30 returned to action last night with a rematch featuring the same teams as last week.

The same team won again only this time by a much more convincing margin.

Richard Harris and Royce Parker were the captains again and Paul Weightman was in charge of the IT aspects of the match.

Now the early experiments have concluded I will put together a plan for the main Project 30 events of the forthcoming season. It looks very likely we will have to remain online for now.

Well done to both teams on providing another fine evening of entertainment.

We conclude with a gallery showing our chess stars in action.

Captain Royce, playing his favourite Nimzo-Larsen Opening.

Captain Richard, having too much to think.

Mike Pointon is ready to add to his impressive tally of points.

Paul Weightman likes his position.

Boom! He likes it even more now!

That's how much he enjoyed the checkmate!

Monday, 24 August 2020

New Chess Event: The 56th Northumberland Chess Congress


Following on from the announcement from Mick Riding on the North vs. South chess match comes news of an actual over-the-board chess event - the 56th Northumberland Chess Congress.

The Congress will be on the weekend of Friday 25 September - Sunday 27 September 2020 at:

The Parks
Leisure Centre
Howdon Road
Royal Quays
North Shields
North Tyneside
NE29 6TL

Mick and his team have worked very hard to ensure the tournament is as secure as possible regarding the Covid-19 situation.

Head here to see the entry form and also to read about the Covid-19 measure that will be in place.

Well done, Mick!

New Chess Events: North vs. South


My friend Mick Riding is working very hard to create new chess events.

This message is from the man himself...


On September 5 (match starts half 6) we have the opportunity to take part in a historic rematch between North and South, the first since 1894.

To join just click on https://www.chess.com/club/ecf-north

For the background stuff go to https://www.englishchess.org.uk/online-north-v-south-challenge-2020/

The occasion is about participating. Of course it's nice if you're a 200+ ECF player, but us lesser mortals need not worry. The match will look to pair people up as closely as possible to their playing strength - so there's room for all.

On the back of our stand out efforts in the County, Pool and U100 matches this would be a big fat cherry on the cake. And The North has never won this challenge. Time to put that right yes? 🙂

The only prerequisite is ECF membership. Be aware most expire end August. So if you haven't renewed please do - or at least sign up as a Supporter (£10) which can later be upgraded to membership - and your £10 will counts towards membership.

Wednesday, 19 August 2020

Project 30: Online Match

Following on from the successful Zoom quiz, Project 30 broke new ground again last night with its first-ever online match.

The Project 30 players were split into too well-balanced teams and Paul Weightman set up the match on Chess.com.

The players practiced social distancing by staying in their own homes.

Captains Richard Harris and Royce Parker sorted out the board orders and we played two rounds of Rapidplay chess.

Richard's team took a big lead from the first leg and even though Royce's team fought back valiantly in the second leg it wasn't quite enough to hold the match.

Captain Royce

Richard's team won, 6-5!

Man of the Match!

Mike Pointon won both of his games, clinching the match win for his team.

The match was a success and a rematch will happen soon.

Then we will look towards setting up some new events for Project 30 if the emergency continues to keep us away from our chess clubs.

Tuesday, 11 August 2020

English Chess Federation Book of the Year 2020 Short List

English Chess Federation

BOOK of the Year 2020

Short List

The Short List this year features remarkably different books on two of the greatest World Champions; the first is an inside story of the coaching that helped make and then kept Kasparov as world champion, the second covers Emanuel Lasker before and after he lost his title but also looks at his numerous other activities. In contrast, two well written books by professional academics; one covering his short but lively chess career, the other is a delight to read whilst obtaining serious instruction.

Coaching Kasparov Volumes 1&2 Alexander Nikitin Elk and Ruby Publishing House paperback pp463 £18.85(1 VOL)

These two volumes written by Kasparov’s coach from his early junior days to the Karpov matches, give detailed insight into the problems of coaching an outstanding talent (vol 1) and then the
different issues arising from working with a world champion (vol 2).

Essential reading for any coach, but also much to interest the general reader. Both volumes include previously unpublished Kasparov games as well as some known ones, annotated from the coach’s point of view.

Emanuel Lasker second volume Forster, Negele, Tischbierek editors Exzelsior Verlag hardback pp 452 £54.95

The second volume of a trilogy, looks not only at chess issues but also at Lasker’s personality and wider life away from chess. All world chess champions concentrated on chess. Not so Lasker whose
wide ranging mind was always exploring subjects that interested him: games (Go, Bridge), mathematics, writing books on diverse subjects as well as chess, plus various business interests.

Despite all these distractions, Lasker remained a mighty chess player, heading Capablanca in all three tournaments they played together, and demonstrated by a fine selection of games.

The Best I Saw in Chess Stuart Rachels New in Chess paperback pp416 £26.95

Rachels was a talented junior playing chess at all levels. His biggest achievement was winning the 1989 USA championship at the age of 20, retiring from chess playing three years later.

This lively and fresh book is the story of experiences during his short career and covers a wide range of subjects some deep and profound, others humorous and entertaining. Rachels gives a vivid picture of the chess world before computers. An engaging book to dip into and enjoy its varied content.

The Complete Chess Swindler David Smerdon New in Chess paperback pp 359 £21.95

The title might suggest that Smerdon’s book is just a collection of mishaps and disasters, but the underlying theme is more serious: how players may give themselves chances in the most difficult positions.

He covers various chess ideas, but also the importance of understanding the opponent’s state of mind to obtain the appropriate conditions for setting a snare. Smerdon writes exceedingly well, but best of all there are many delicious positions to savour. What entertainment!

Ray Edwards Sean Marsh 12 August 2020

Thursday, 4 June 2020

Summary of Activity

Here is the latest summary of activity on the chess front.

Clearly, the current emergency is far from over and we have no idea when things will start to return to anything resembling normality.

Meanwhile, we are doing our best to keep people connected. We are also maintaining a steady stream of top quality chess material, accessible to all, so please feel very free to share as appropriate to your pupils, teachers, parents, chess clubs, libraries and whoever else you think may find the content of interest.

A reminder to all schools that the UK Chess Challenge is now an online Summer Festival of Chess and the time to enter is NOW.

Lessons 14 and 15 are now available at the CSC website. All of the other lessons are there too, making it easy to catch up with any you may have missed or would like to revise.

My two latest CSC lockdown blog posts - which are aimed at novices and parents - cover 'Pins and Skewers' and 'The Fork'. They can be found here.

A reminder to all of our schools that you were sent information and links to sign up every pupil for ChessKid accounts and there is still time to join in.

My personal view on the current emergency can be found here.

My latest Chessable blog posts are here:

The London System

The Art of Attack

Steinitz Memorial, Day Three

Steinitz Memorial, Day Two

Sunday, 31 May 2020

Carrying the Shame

I carry the shame of my generation.

We have sleepwalked our way into a time of extreme problems.

Prior to this, the most recent case of sleepwalking into a nightmare world occurred in the 1930s.

The current problems are largely self-evident.

Just two weeks ago I wrote:

‘The finishing post is NOT in sight.

Schools should NOT return to action unless it is absolutely safe to do so.

I hope schools are able to make a stand against the latest plan.

Everyone is much too valuable to be used as an experiment.’

A lot has happened since then.

A lot hasn’t happened since then.

Substantial pressure is being placed on schools to return to action. The campaign to name teaching staff as heroes dovetails so neatly into the ethos of the weekly act of clapping that it will act as a badge of shame for those who do not think it is safe to return.

The pressure is intensified; who would want to let the side down? Who isn’t capable of being a hero?

The nation needs its share of the ‘feel good’ factor.

The simplest example of such an artifice occurred during the 1939-45 war, when households were asked to donate points and pans and the railings from parks and gardens were removed, ‘to help the war effort.’

Lord Beaverbrook, the Minister for Aircraft Production, ‘We will turn your pots and pans into Spitfires and Hurricanes, Blenheims and Wellingtons.’

The unfortunate reality of the situation is that the metal was either dumped into the sea or merely left in scrap heaps, which rather dilutes the intended ‘do your bit’ feel good message.

You don't need to give away your pots and pans.

You don’t need an appointed time to clap for your heroes.

It will already have faded from memory that many people wanted to clap again for the ‘hero of the nation’, who recklessly subjected himself to the virus by shaking hands with infected sufferers.

Presumably someone told him Princess Diana once did something similar, during the height of a different virus. The finer detail of how the respective viruses were allowed to spread was either ignored or not present.

On the day some schools will open their doors to more than just key workers' children, the lockdown will be eased in other ways.

This will ensure there will be confusion when the second spike appears; the trail won’t lead clearly to the school environment.

I need schools to return to normal for the sake of my own business - but I don’t want them to return as I know it is not going to be safe.

There is no point in comparing the situation in the United Kingdom to that of other countries. It fails the test of comparing like with like.

One aspect that isn’t being talked about is just how will people - of all ages - react to a return to school after so many weeks away.

Any teacher will tell you how difficult it is to go back to teaching after the Summer break.

They now have to return after an unprecedented time away from their children, friends and colleagues. Any attempt to make that sound like an easy transition is pure bravado.

The spike in the spread of the virus won’t be the only one. The explosion of mental health issues will be unprecedented.

Nobody, anywhere, can successfully claim to be immune to such problems when their whole world is turned upside down.

Time and again I have said I believe in the next generation to make a much better job of everything once they have the opportunity to do so and I am deeply ashamed of the the state of the world they will inherit.

To the young, I apologise.

I carry the shame of my generation.