Sunday, 15 November 2020

Project 30 November Zoom Quiz

The third edition of the Project 30 Zoom Quiz was the biggest and best to date.


The quiz has now gone international, thanks to the involvement of Kineke Mulder of Chess Unlimited.





Jo Hutchinson and Adrian Thomas (one of the kings of British Rythm and Blues - check out the Voodoo Sheiks) were among those also making their debuts in this strictly-by-invitation series of events.



David Hardy is the champion, with John Garnett runner-up and Sean Cassidy third.

Thank you, everyone, for a fabulous, fun evening.




Incidentally, some of the answers I received for the lyrics question were not only incorrect, but also anatomically impossible.

Project 30 Match Update

The big Project 30 match has been decided, with Team Two crossing the finishing line as victors, thanks to excellent wins from Peter Parker.

One fixture remains, but it cannot change the standings.

Remaining Fixture

Paul Weightman - Kevin Waterman


Results

Mike Pointon 1-1 Matt Jackman
Mike Pointon 1-1 Sean Marsh
Mike Pointon 0-2 Peter Harker
Mike Pointon 2-0 Graham Edwards
Mike Pointon 1-1 Royce Parker
Mike Pointon 1-1 Kevin Waterman

John Garnett 0.5-1.5 Matt Jackman
John Garnett 0-2 Sean Marsh
John Garnett 2-0 Peter Harker
John Garnett 2-0 Royce Parker
John Garnett 2-0 Graham Edwards
John Garnett 1.5-0.5 Kevin Waterman

David Baillie 0.5-1.5 Matt Jackman
David Baillie 1-1 Sean Marsh
David Baillie 1.5-0.5 Royce Parker
David Baillie 2-0 Kevin Waterman
David Baillie 2-0 Peter Harker
David Baillie 1.5-0.5 Graham Edwards

Richard Harris 0-2 Matt Jackman
Richard Harris 2-0 Peter Harker
Richard Harris 1-1 Royce Parker
Richard Harris 1.5-0.5 Kevin Waterman
Richard Harris 0-2 Sean Marsh
Richard Harris 1-1 Graham Edwards

Paul Weightman 0.5-1.5 Matt Jackman
Paul Weightman 2-0 Graham Edwards
Paul Weightman 0-2 Sean Marsh
Paul Weightman 0.5-1.5 Royce Parker
Paul Weightman 0-2 Peter Harker

Sean Cassidy 0-2 Sean Marsh
Sean Cassidy 0-2 Matt Jackman
Sean Cassidy 0-2 Royce Parker
Sean Cassidy 0-2 Kevin Waterman
Sean Cassidy 0-2 Graham Edwards
Sean Cassidy 1-1 Peter Harker

Team One 32, Team Two 38

Players who have completed their fixtures are given with their final scores.

Team One
John Garnett 8/12
David Baillie 8.5/12
Richard Harris 5.5/12
Mike Pointon 6/12
Sean Cassidy 1/12
Paul Weightman

Team Two
Sean Marsh 10/12
Matt Jackman 9.5/12
Graham Edwards 3.5/12
Royce Parker 6/12
Peter Harker 5/12
Kevin Waterman

Friday, 6 November 2020

Project 30: Match Update

Here is an update on our big Project 30 match, which is now coming to its conclusion.

Team Two have extended their lead by a point.

6 points are still available.

Team One needs five and a half points to win the match.

Team Two needs one and a half points to win the match.

A score of 5-1 to Team One from the remaining fixtures will tie the match.


Remaining Fixtures

Paul Weightman - Peter Harker
Paul Weightman - Kevin Waterman

Sean Cassidy - Peter Harker


Results


Mike Pointon 1-1 Matt Jackman
Mike Pointon 1-1 Sean Marsh
Mike Pointon 0-2 Peter Harker
Mike Pointon 2-0 Graham Edwards
Mike Pointon 1-1 Royce Parker
Mike Pointon 1-1 Kevin Waterman

John Garnett 0.5-1.5 Matt Jackman
John Garnett 0-2 Sean Marsh
John Garnett 2-0 Peter Harker
John Garnett 2-0 Royce Parker
John Garnett 2-0 Graham Edwards
John Garnett 1.5-0.5 Kevin Waterman

David Baillie 0.5-1.5 Matt Jackman
David Baillie 1-1 Sean Marsh
David Baillie 1.5-0.5 Royce Parker
David Baillie 2-0 Kevin Waterman
David Baillie 2-0 Peter Harker
David Baillie 1.5-0.5 Graham Edwards

Richard Harris 0-2 Matt Jackman
Richard Harris 2-0 Peter Harker
Richard Harris 1-1 Royce Parker
Richard Harris 1.5-0.5 Kevin Waterman
Richard Harris 0-2 Sean Marsh
Richard Harris 1-1 Graham Edwards

Paul Weightman 0.5-1.5 Matt Jackman
Paul Weightman 2-0 Graham Edwards
Paul Weightman 0-2 Sean Marsh
Paul Weightman 0.5-1.5 Royce Parker

Sean Cassidy 0-2 Sean Marsh
Sean Cassidy 0-2 Matt Jackman
Sean Cassidy 0-2 Royce Parker
Sean Cassidy 0-2 Kevin Waterman
Sean Cassidy 0-2 Graham Edwards


Team One 31, Team Two 35


Players who have completed their fixtures are given with their final scores.


Team One
John Garnett 8/12
David Baillie 8.5/12
Richard Harris 5.5/12
Mike Pointon 6/12
Sean Cassidy
Paul Weightman

Team Two

Sean Marsh 10/12
Matt Jackman 9.5/12
Graham Edwards 3.5/12
Royce Parker 6/12
Peter Harker
Kevin Waterman

Thursday, 5 November 2020

Excellent New Magazine: Chess Tales

We have excellent news for everyone involved with junior chess.

Chess Tales

Chess Tales is an English translation of the German Rochade Kids chess magazine.

Teesside helped to test the content of the magazine and there is another link too; Royce Parker, my good friend and teammate, is the translator.

The material is excellent and fully engaging.

You don't need to take my word for it, as you can see the contents of the first issue here.

Additionally, UK schools can claim one free copy of the magazine by clicking here.

Approximately 25,000 children use the magazine in Germany. I believe it to be a very valuable set of resources, which will work in the classroom scenario and also in one-to-one lessons.

International Master Tobias Hirneise is the editor of Chess Tales and he is offering a discount of 50% to schools ordering 10 or more copies of the first issue.

Head to the Chess Tales website for further information.

Wednesday, 4 November 2020

Acorn Chess



Acorn Chess

Mini-games are a valuable part of a chess tutor's resources.

They are ideal for teaching chess methodically, as they use a small number of pieces each time to build up knowledge and skill.

They are used extensively by Chess in Schools and Communities in over 300 UK schools.

One problem - particularly now online teaching has become a necessity - is that most computer programmes cannot be used to set up the mini-games, as they class them as illegal positions (because there are no kings on the board.)

Acorn Chess is a brand new venture, which allows mini-games to be set up easily and offers various levels of engine strength to test a player's skill.

Mini-game in Action

I have tested Acorn Chess and I believe it offers an excellent set of resources for chess tutors to use in group or individual settings.

There are lots of other games and features and the project is developing all of the time. Head to the Acorn Chess website to investigate the new resources and follow Acorn Chess on Twitter to keep up to date with all of the new developments.

Monday, 2 November 2020

An Interview with Samantha Durnan

My recent post, Create or Destroy, included an offer:

'If creative people out there would like to be interviewed for my blog then just let me know.

We can talk about the positive aspects of your life and work. We can get your message across.

This offer is small fry, in the grand scheme of things - but nevertheless it is a positive action.'

We are starting our new series in great style, as we proudly present an interview with Samantha Durnan

Samantha Durnan

Samantha, a singer/songwriter based in North East England, has already appeared on this blog, both under her own name, when supporting Heather Peace at Arc, and also as part of The Hootones, who rocked The Georgian Theatre with Gypsy in 2019 and SHE easier this year.

We discussed Samantha's life in music from her early days to the forthcoming new album, scheduled for 2021.


Who introduced you to music, and are any members of your family active, musically? 

I come from a musical background. My Dad plays the guitar and my Nana used to be a singer. I was eight years old when I learnt my first couple of chords and it was then I knew I wanted to be a musician.

Not long after that I started guitar lessons with our lead guitarist in the show (James Henderson) and he encouraged me to record my own material.

How old were you when you realised music was going to be a major part of your life? 

I was 8 years old when I discovered that I had a passion for music and I knew that nothing else would come close to the buzz I felt while playing an instrument.

How would you describe your musical style? 

Alternative/Pop. I'm influenced by all types of genres from Pop to Metal from Classical to Rock. I try to include a little bit of something for everyone in my music.

Can you tell me something about your creative process? Are you writing songs more or less all of the time, or do you have to take time out from other aspects of your life in order to fully focus? 

I often get a random urge to write and as soon as I get that feeling, I grab my guitar. I don't plan to write, it just happens. Very quickly. Then I stop and think, where did that come from?! 

I'm currently writing an album and I'm on such a creativity high. I never know where the music will end up taking me and that is what I find so exciting about the process.

Do you write better on your own, or with the help of others? 

100% on my own. I'm not ashamed to say I'm a complete control freak when it comes to writing, haha! Once I hear an idea in my head, I'm set in stone.

What usually comes first – the music or the words? 

Music. Always the music. I like my words to work rhythmically with the music. I tend to create a melody by humming and then the words will flow.

How do you balance your musical career and aspirations with the ‘real world'?

I wear lots of different hats to succeed as a full time musician in the 'real world'. It would be a dream to write songs for a living but it doesn't pay my bills...yet, haha! 

I set up a Music Agency a few years ago called 'Pluck' and we specialise in Weddings & Corporate Events. Having the Agency allows me to afford to live and invest time and money back into my writing. 

At the end of the day as long as my career involves music, I'm happy.

You play your own, original songs but also have a full repertoire of cover songs with The Hootones. Is the former body of work easier to remember and play than the latter? 

I feel there is more pressure to remember the cover songs as people often sing along to the classics. Not as many people know the words to my original material so it wouldn’t a miss if made up a lyric or two, haha!

The Hootones in Action

Are there any internal battles within The Hootones when it comes to choosing the set lists? Are there any songs that you really wanted to include, but didn’t? 

It all depends on the Event. For Weddings we know we need to get the guests up on to the dance floor so we will decide as a band which upbeat songs will work best. Obviously some members prefer some songs to others but we always go with what we think the audience would prefer. With our show SHE we have a different approach as we perform our favourite songs by some of our most inspirational female artists.

Which artists do you admire?


I have so many! But the artist that stands that stands out for me is Stevie Nicks. I love everything about her from her voice, image to her sheer determination. To still be touring the world and moving around the stage like she does is admirable!

Which albums would make it onto your desert island list? (As many as you want!)

Fleetwood Mac - Rumours

Michael Jackson - Thriller/Bad

Ludovico Einaudi - Island

The Staves - Dead Born & Grown

Haim - Days Are Gone

KT Tunstall - Eye to the telescope

Florence & The Machine – Lungs 

Which song do you wish you had written?

Beat It by Michael Jackson.

The Internet has impacted greatly on the music industry. What are the good and bad points from your point of view? 

I have been able to reach audiences from around the world via the Internet and I am hugely grateful for the platform. However it is sad to see artists getting paid so little due to illegal downloading and streaming services paying out a small percentage.

For your dream gig, with whom would you love to perform?

Stevie Nicks. I think I’d break down on stage but after a few drinks and tissues, I’d be fine.

Think back to the two fabulous evenings (Gypsy and SHE) at the Georgian Theatre. Were you nervous before the gigs?

Yes! Only because I’d organised the Evening and I wanted to make sure everything ran smoothly and everyone had a great night.

You have just left the stage at the end of the shows. You have connected with – and entertained – every person in the hall; a success by anyone’s standards. How does it feel? How long does it take you to wind down afterwards? 

It is one of the best feelings! When musicians and audience members connect, the energy in the room is on another level. I’m completely wired for a few days after a gig like that.

What projects do you have lined up, either for The Hootones or for your own work?

Due to the current live music circumstances The Hootones aren’t able to perform. Once live music restrictions are lifted we are hoping to put on another show and have a huge party! Aside from the band I’m currently in the middle of recording an album which I will be releasing next year.

What advice would you give to anyone starting out in the world of music?

Listen, learn, be true to yourself and enjoy the journey!

The entertainment industry has been very badly hit by the pandemic. How long do you think it will be before the emergency clears? 

Honestly, I have no idea. I am still in complete disbelief that we are currently living through a pandemic.

Do you think most things will recover (in time) or do you take a more pessimistic view?


I like to hope that most things will recover although it is extremely difficult to feel and see any positivity throughout this heartbreaking pandemic. But I have faith in the industry and I believe we creative folk will get through this horrendous period in time.

Thank you very much, Samantha Durnan!

This is a taster of Samantha's work. Head here for more information and bookings.





Stay tuned for the next interview in our series, which is coming soon...