Monday 24 October 2011

CSC Westminster Celebration

All photos in this article are © Sean Marsh

Our trip to Westminster to take part in the Chess in Schools and Communities first birthday celebrations had taken a lot of planning and everyone was very excited at the prospect of enjoying a fantastic day.

Our party of 10 had a very early start to the day but nobody minded that. From the moment we boarded the train at just after 7.30 a.m. to the minute we arrived back on Teesside - 14 hours later - every second was packed with fun and excitement.

Most of our children were visiting London for the first time. 'Will we see the building with the big clock?' one asked; 'Indeed we will - that's exactly where we are heading!'

At the train station, very early in the morning.
The start of a long day

The chess games started early

Teesside comes to the big city

Once in London, we took a route on foot through Green Park and St. James's Park, passing Buckingam Palace, Horse Guards Parade, Downing Street, Westminster Abbey and various other famous bits and pieces before arriving at The Palace of Westminster.

Buckingham Palace

One of the famous pelicans of St. James's Park

Horse Guards Parade

Another famous place

Even we couldn't advance beyond the gates and armed guards

The 'building with the big clock'!

Westminster security took a little while to get through. A scan of our faces was converted to a pass and all bags and coats had to be passed through an X-Ray machine.

Once inside, it was time for chess, of course. Our children couldn't wait to start playing games against each other, taking the opportunity to sharpen their skills before facing the mighty Grandmaster Short, who was set to play the juniors in a simultaneous display.


Chloe and Jack are ready.
Bring on the Grandmasters!

Teesside were the first to arrive

GM Kasparov has entered the building

IM Malcolm Pein - manager of the CSC - making the opening speech

The great former World Champion was happy to be here

Three former British Champions: Grandmasters Ray Keene, Jon Speelman and Nigel Short

Rachel Reeves MP started the simultaneous display.
Kasparov had to help against our Leah, as Frankie looks on

Back together in the city they lit up with their
World Championship match back in 1993.
I reminisced about that a couple of days ago.

CHESS Editor John Saunders was on the scene too

It takes Short AND Kasparov to match Chloe and Jack

Caitlin's game went on longer than most

Nigel went on to win all of his games over the course of the afternoon, but he did have help from a variety of people, including MP Rachel Reeves, IM Malcolm Pein, GM Jonathan Rowson and even GM Garry Kasparov!

Former British Champion Jonathan Rowson in action.
Frankie moves while Leah rests

Frankie and Leah are still on the go.
This time, Sabrina Chevannes tries to break their defences

GM Speelman keeps the score of the blitz match between
Rachel Reeves and Guardian journalist Stephen Moss

We met our local MPs in addition to a gallery of chess stars and fellow students.

Hartlepool's Iain Wright MP supporting Throston's Caitlin and Victoria

Ian Swales MP (Redcar) encouraging Chloe and Jack

A group photo with Grandmaster Kasparov was a particular highlight.

Victoria was even interviewed for 'Newsround'.

In the Palace of Westminster

The chess celebration had been a great success. After a quick look upstairs in the House of Commons it was time to head back to King's Cross (stopping only at McDonald's).

On the tube - next stop, MacDonald's!

Our children still hadn't had enough chess. While the adults in our party would rather have had a sleep, we watched instead as the children played game after game on their portable sets.
And then, after four trains, four tubes and a fair bit of shoe leather, the day's journeys were at an end (well, not quite for the Throston party, who still had a taxi trip to come).
What a fabulous day!

Thank you to all of the organisers who made it possible and thank you too to the wonderful people in my group (June, Andrea, Neil, Chloe, Jack, Leah, Frankie, Victoria and Caitlin). Same again next year...!?

A further selection of photos from the day is available on the website of Ray Morris-Hill, the official photographer for the day.

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