Friday, 26 November 2021

London Chess Classic 2021

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Incidentally, there will be expert commentary on the World Chess Championship games as part of the London Chess Classic.

Head to the Classic website for full details of all of the events on offer this year:

https://www.londonchessclassic.com

World Chess Championship: Magnus Carlsen vs. Ian Nepomniachtchi

The World Chess Championship match between Magnus Carlsen and Ian Nepomniachtchi starts today.

Carlsen, the defending champion, starts as the favourite, but I believe the match will be extremely close.

Find out more on the official website.

Tuesday, 23 November 2021

12th Mike Closs Memorial Tournament

12th Mike Closs Memorial Tournament saw a return to over-the-board chess after last year's temporary switch to the online world.

This time, five players contested a double round-robin tournament, with 10 minutes on each clock.

A selection of Mike's favourite openings was drawn at random, with one such opening featuring in every round. This time, we had the French Wing Gambit, the Sicilian Najdorf, Sicilian Wing Gambit, Sicilian Scheveningen and the Danish Gambit.

None of the above openings are specialities of any of this year's participants, but we did our best to play in the spirt of Mike.

Trying to work out alien strategies over the board led to time trouble for all concerned and most of the games could easily have gone either way. 

There was only one draw in the whole event and that came in the very last game to finish, when Jo's queen was able to force a perpetual check on my king, despite my advantage of an extra rook and knight - not to mention a threat of checkmate in one move.

Final Scores

9.5/10: Sean Marsh
8/10: Dave Baillie
5/10: Richard Harris
4.5/10: Jo Hutchinson
3/10: Royce Parker

Well played, everyone - and thank you very much for supporting the 12th Mike Closs Memorial Tournament.

Here is a gallery from the exciting evening.



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Index of Tournament Reports


1st Mike Closs Memorial Tournament, 2010

2nd Mike Closs Memorial Tournament, 2011

3rd Mike Closs Memorial Tournament, 2012

4th Mike Closs Memorial Tournament, 2013

5th Mike Closs Memorial Tournament, 2014

6th Mike Closs Memorial Tournament, 2015

7th Mike Closs Memorial Tournament, 2016

8th Mike Closs Memorial Tournament, 2017

9th Mike Closs Memorial Tournament, 2018

10th Mike Closs Memorial Tournament, 2019

11th Mike Closs Memorial Tournament, 2020

Monday, 1 November 2021

The Delancey UK Schools' Chess Challenge 2022

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It has been confirmed that the Delancey UK Schools' Chess Challenge will return in 2022.

Sarah and Alex Longson worked wonders to keep the tournament going during the COVID lockdowns and, to the delight of children all across the UK, they even managed to switch the Megafinals and Gigafinals to the online world. The final round of the competition, the prestigious Terafinal, was played at Blenheim Palace in October.

Entries are now open for the initial, school-based phase of the competition. In fact, in an interesting break with tradition, all players can now enter the Megafinals, without having to achieve the formerly required 17 points in their own schools.

The school events can therefore be seen as excellent and essential tournament experience for children before they play in a Megafinal.

We are hoping to run a Megafinal on Teesside again, for the first time since 2019. The date is already pencilled in and further details will follow in due course.

Head here for further details on the the whole initiative, including plenty of free resources.

This is the page you need to enrol your school for the Delancey UK Schools' Chess Challenge 2022.


Saturday, 23 October 2021

Mark Harrison: The Road to Liberty

The Road to Liberty
Mark Harrison

We have followed the progress of Mark Harrison's albums here at Marsh Towers for nearly a decade, from the trilogy of Crooked Smile (2012), The World Outside (2014) and Turpentine (2016) through to 2018's The Panoramic View.

There have been many changes to the world between then and now. For a songwriter, the changes provide inspiration, whether the subject matter represents a good or bad change. Indeed, The Road to Liberty is a double album, chock-full of catchy tunes and extremely thoughtful lyrics. All of the songs were written by Mark himself.

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Do not let the catchy aspect of the songs trick you into thinking the songs lack depth; nothing could be further from the truth. Each song tells a story. Some are about people and others are about our own feelings, whether we are looking inward or pondering the effect our actions have on others.

The song titles act as fine teasers for the treats in store.

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The genre is officially roots music but the blues and folk aspects shine through particularly strongly. Mark's style doesn't even need such labels, of course. He remains a true original, with a unique talent for storytelling.

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In contrast to my reviews of Mark's earlier albums, I am going to let the man himself tell you all about the songs by means of this fine brace of YouTube videos.


I still live in hope that I will be able catch Mark and his band at a gig at some point. Meanwhile, I have 21 excellent new songs to explore in greater detail.

Find out more about Mark, his music and his tour dates over at his official website.

Saturday, 16 October 2021

Unprecedented Times - A Cartoon Diary of Lockdown

My brilliant friend Bridie Jackson is, together with Clare Brown, releasing a book of her famous lockdown cartoons.

Here is a short summary of the project and its aims:

Hello, we are Bridie Jackson and Clare Brown and we are delighted to bring you Unprecedented Times, a cartoon diary chronicling the recent lockdowns of 2020/2021. This project came about because Bridie needed a distraction from the baffling realities of lockdown, so started drawing daily topical doodles and occasionally sharing these on social media. Some people found these amusing and were kind enough to suggest they were turned into a book, Clare came on board as a designer and here we are.

After costs, profits raised from book sales will be donated to two amazing charities; Arts Emergency and Rainbow Home. Arts Emergency is an award-winning mentoring charity that help young people from underrepresented backgrounds break into the arts and humanities, and Rainbow Home are a small locally based charity whose fundamental aim is to reduce the significant difficulties and hardship experienced by LGBTQ+ asylum seekers in the North East of England.

Rather strategically, we’re bringing the book out just in time for Christmas Shopping, and our promise to you is that everything will be delivered by the first week in December at the latest.

There’s several different offers and price points available, from digital downloads to signed copies and even the opportunity to buy an original cartoons, so hopefully there is something for everyone.

Thanks in advance for your support,

Bridie and Clare




I have known Bridie for a long time (type Bridie's name into the search box of this blog to find out more about her work) and I am happy to support her latest venture.

Head here to see the various available packages.

Saturday, 2 October 2021

Project 30: 2021-22

Project 30 is back and here are the details of two new events.


KO Championship



Each of the rounds will feature one game played at the normal time limit (36 moves in 90 minutes followed by an extra 15 minutes on each clock to play to a finish). Colours will be decided immediately before the games in the usual fashion.

Drawn games will require a replay with colours reversed, which can be played at any time limit agreed by both opponents. If both players cannot reach agreement the aforementioned timings will be used.


Round One


Sean Cassidy v Richard Harris

Kevin Waterman v Stephen Ollis​



Round Two


Sean Marsh v John Garnett

Dave Baillie v Peter Harker

Matt Jackman v Royce Parker

Winner of Sean Cassidy v Richard Harris v Winner of Kevin Waterman v Stephen Ollis


First Target Date: Please try to complete the first two rounds before Christmas 2021.


Rapidplay Championship


For this year, I have changed the format slightly.


This is because I am very aware of the need for all of us to play more games as we try to return to over-the-board action and with this format everyone is guaranteed extra experience.


Therefore, we are starting with two groups of players.

During the group phase, we will play every player in our own group twice (with 30 minutes on each clock).

The top two players from each group will advance to the semi-finals (winner of group A vs. runner-up of group B and vice versa.)


The semi-finals will be four Rapidplay games and the final will be six games.


Group A

Sean Marsh

Matt Jackman

Richard Harris

Kevin Waterman

Sean Cassidy


Group B


Dave Baillie

John Garnett

Royce Parker

Peter Harker

Stephen Ollis


First Target Date:
Please try to complete at least three of your group fixtures by Christmas 2021.

Stop press - early results: Matt Jackman 2-0 Richard Harris; Sean Marsh 2-0 Sean Cassidy.

Sunday, 29 August 2021

Project 30: Back in Action

The first physical meeting for Project 30 in a long time was a great success at Cafe Nero yesterday.

Indeed, the last time I played over-the-board chess was against Peter Parker in the final of the of the Project 30 Rapidplay Championship, on 22 March 2020 (one day before the first lockdown).

Yesterday, we finally played again with real people and real pieces!

The final scores of our Celebratory Tournament were:

Sean Marsh 10

Royce Parker and Peter Harker 6

Richard Harris 5

Sean Cassidy 2.5

It was wonderful to see everyone's individual styles shining through once more.

Naturally, we all made mistakes but the rust has certainly started to fall off and everyone played some excellent chess over the course of the day.

I have medals for those who couldn't make it yesterday (for our previous events) and I will distirbute them over the course of the season.

Plans for the next set of events will soon be made available.

Meanwhile, here is a gallery from yesterday's event.











Wednesday, 16 June 2021

ChessFest 2021

CSC will be taking over Trafalgar Square on Day Three of our Summer Festival of Chess!

It sounds outrageous and, despite my predilection for believing six impossible things before breakfast, I assure you I am not lion.

Be there - or be (Trafalgar) Square!

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Friday, 4 June 2021

Salvation

There I was, eating my favourite snack...

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...when I was startled by a creature most evil.

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Whilst pondering the best way to defend myself, I suddenly remembered...

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...my Bible!

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Evil sorted, it was time to return to other important matters. The Bible even taught me how to use a fork correctly.

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The part of me was played by me.

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The photographer and behind-the-scenes maestro was Catherine Lloyd.

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The Bible is now available for your perusal and salvation.

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No Pot Noodles were consumed during the making of this blog post.

Wednesday, 2 June 2021

Checkmate COVID: The Rematch


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This is happening next weekend and all of the details can be found here.

You can play, donate or simply follow the action online.

I will be making my debut as a stream commentator, together with my friends Woman International Master Natasha Regan and Grandmaster Matthew Sadler, from 8.00 a.m. - 9.00 a.m on the morning of Sunday 6 June.

Be there - or be square!

Thursday, 6 May 2021

Project 30: Final Results, January - April 2021

Project 30: Results Update

The latest four Project 30 tournaments have now reached their conclusions.

There have been many excellent games over the course of the last four months and now we can confirm the final standings.

We have four different champions, all of whom deserved their success.

Summary of Champions

Rapidplay Match Championship

Matt Jackman

KO Championship

Rayelynn Posadas

Alekhine Tournament

Richard Harris

Capablanca Tournament

Peter Harker


Summary of Results

Rapidplay Match Championship

Matt Jackman 4.5-3.5 Dave Baillie (Results from Matt's point of view: 0.5, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0.5, 0.5)

Congratulations to Matt for winning the Rapidplay Championship!

Congratulations to Dave also, for such a fantastic final.

The final was everything we hoped it would be. Each of the four two-game sessions brought something different.


KO Final

Rayelynn Posadas 1-0 Andrew Smith

Congratulations to both players on reaching the final and extra congratulations to Rayelynn for becoming the new KO Champion!

Semi-Final Results

Andrew Smith 1-0 (First game drawn) Dave Baillie

Matt Jackman 0-1 Rayelynn Posadas


All-play-all Alekhine Tournament


Richard Harris 4.5/6

Royce Parker 3.5/6

Kevin Waterman 3/6

Graham Edwards 1/6

Results

Richard Harris 1-1 Graham Edwards

Richard Harris 2-0 Kevin Waterman

Richard Harris 1.5-0.5 Royce Parker

Royce Parker 2-0 Graham Edwards

Royce Parker 1-1 Kevin Waterman

Kevin Waterman 2-0 Graham Edwards



All-play-all Capablanca Tournament


Peter Harker 7/10

Royce Parker 6/10

John Garnett 5.5/10

Mike Pointon 3.5/8

Paul Weightman 3/6

Kevin Waterman 1/8


Results


Peter Harker 2-0 Mike Pointon

Peter Harker 1-1 Paul Weightman

Peter Harker 2-0 Kevin Waterman

Peter Harker 1.5-0.5 Royce Parker

Peter Harker 0.5-1.5 John Garnett

Royce Parker 1.5-0.5 John Garnett

Royce Parker 1-1 Paul Weightman

Royce Parker 2-0 Kevin Waterman

Royce Parker 1-1 Mike Pointon

Paul Weightman 1-1 John Garnett

Mike Pointon 1.5-0.5 John Garnett

Kevin Waterman 1-1 Mike Pointon

Kevin Waterman 0-2 John Garnett


There are still two fixtures remaining. They cannot alter the top place but I will add the results here if the games are eventually played.

Kevin Waterman - Paul Weightman

Paul Weightman - Mike Pointon

Saturday, 3 April 2021

Blank Canvas

What do you want from life?

Are you still dreaming of the illusive larger pay-packet, the bigger house and the faster car?

All these decades in…is it still possible to see those dreams come to fruition?

Or could it possibly be that each and every one of us who is still surviving the extraordinary challenges of these terrible times has an unforeseen opportunity to change in ways which would have seemed impossible one year ago?

Everyone has been forced to change. Some changes have been for the better; some for the worse. Maybe you have felt thoroughly disorganised, or even worthless. Perhaps you have felt anger rising at unexpected moments, or become surprisingly emotional over the smallest of matters. Do you hide your tears? Can you still bring the Black Dog to heel?

Do not underestimate how well you have done. So many people weren’t able to make it this far at all.

What do you want from life?

You can make it anything you would like it to be.

Imagine if you had been away for a year or more. When you return to your usual situation, you will have changed. The people you know will all have changed too. Some former friends will have moved on; others will become more prominent in your life.

This is the situation we are all going to be in if we can eventually emerge at the other side of this emergency.

There is an unexpected blank canvas in front of all of us. Time to assess what is really important; time to let go of a plethora of things which are important no more.

In the words of Paul Cezanne: ‘It's so fine and yet so terrible to stand in front of a blank canvas.’

Remove the terror and bring plenty of paint.

The sooner we start, the better it will be. I need to be a better version of me. Much better.

Time is against all of us; tomorrow is never promised.

What do you want from life?

Project 30: Results Update

The semi-finals of both competitions have now concluded.All four battles were extremely close and ferociously contested.

The results are given below.

The pairings for the respective finals are:

Rapidplay:

(An eight-game match)
Matt Jackman - Dave Baillie

KO:

Andrew Smith - Rayelynn Posadas

Target Date for Completion of the Finals: End of April 2021


Project 30 Rapidplay Match Championship

January - April 2021



Semi-Final Results

(Matches were of six games)


Matt Jackman 3.5-2.5 Andrew Smith (W2, D3, -1 from Matt's point of view)


Dave Baillie 3-3 Richard Harris (+2, =2, -2. Dave won the Blitz play-off)


Project 30 KO Championship 2021

February - April 2021



Semi-Final Results

(Players will decide the colours)


Andrew Smith 1-0 (First game drawn) Dave Baillie


Matt Jackman 0-1 Rayelynn Posadas


All-play-all Capablanca Tournament


Peter Harker 7/10

Royce Parker 6/10

Paul Weightman 3/6

John Garnett 3/6

Mike Pointon 1/4

Kevin Waterman 0/4



Results


Peter Harker 2-0 Mike Pointon

Peter Harker 1-1 Paul Weightman

Peter Harker 2-0 Kevin Waterman

Peter Harker 1.5-0.5 Royce Parker

Peter Harker 0.5-1.5 John Garnett

Royce Parker 1.5-0.5 John Garnett

Royce Parker 1-1 Paul Weightman

Royce Parker 2-0 Kevin Waterman

Royce Parker 1-1 Mike Pointon

Paul Weightman 1-1 John Garnett



All-play-all Alekhine Tournament



Richard Harris 4.5/6

Graham Edwards 1/2

Royce Parker 0.5/2

Kevin Waterman 0/2


Results

Richard Harris 1-1 Graham Edwards

Richard Harris 2-0 Kevin Waterman

Richard Harris 1.5-0.5 Royce Parker


Rules:


In both of the new tournaments, the format will be all-play-all twice. A 1-1 result will stand; there will be no tie-breakers.


The default time-limit will be 30 minutes on each clock, but there is scope for you to decide on another time-limit with your opponents.

Start as soon as you want to, using the rough timetable of one round in February and two rounds per subsequent months, which should enable the tournaments to draw to a close at the end of April 2021.

Monday, 8 March 2021

The Teesside Roar

There is a lot of talk about schools reopening today, when in fact they have never closed.

The difference is that all pupils are now expected to return, albeit with various new measures in place.

It should not be overlooked or forgotten that staff in all schools have worked incredibly hard, often in extremely difficult circumstances, all the way through the full year of the current pandemic.

It is strange that self-testing has just been introduced after a whole year of expecting school staff to work on the front-line without such an important measure being in place, but despite some loud voices offering opinions to the contrary, school staff do have an extremely strong sense of duty and genuinely do care about children and their families.

CSC Teesside has never stopped delivering chess lessons to our schools either.

We have had to evolve, retrain and often go beyond the call of duty.

Yet we never stopped - and didn't even come close to giving up.

I know for sure exactly the magnitude of our impact on schools.

Enrichment has become more important than ever. Teachers openly report to me that they have not seen the children so enthused about anything else for a long time. It has been worth the journey just to see all of the smiling faces.

We have delivered lessons online to nearly all of our CSC Teesside schools and from tomorrow we will be delivering partly online and partly in person.

School renewals for 2021-22 are going extremely well, proving that loyalty works both ways.

The CSC Tessside tutors - Mr. Cassidy, Mr. Harris and Mr. Edmunds - are three heroes, who have never shirked a challenge and who inspire hundreds of children all across our area, every single week.

We are certainly not out of the woods yet, but we are ready, willing and able to continue delivering top-quality lessons whatever happens next.

The Teesside roar will never fade away.

Tuesday, 2 March 2021

Project 30 Update

Project 30 Rapidplay Match Championship

January - April 2021

Semi-Final Pairings

(Matches are of six games)

Matt Jackman - Andrew Smith

Dave Baillie - Graham Edwards or Richard Harris (currently 0-2; to be concluded...)


Project 30 KO Championship 2021

February - April 2021


Semi-Final Pairings

(Players will decide the colours)

Andrew Smith - Dave Baillie

Matt Jackman - Rayelynn Posadas


Target Date for Completion of the Semi-Finals: End of March 2021.




All-play-all Capablanca Tournament

Peter Harker 5/6

Paul Weightman 3/6

Royce Parker 2.5/4

John Garnett 1.5/4

Mike Pointon 0/2

Kevin Waterman 0/2


Results

Peter Harker 2-0 Mike Pointon

Peter Harker 1-1 Paul Weightman

Peter Harker 2-0 Kevin Waterman

Royce Parker 1.5-0.5 John Garnett

Royce Parker 1-1 Paul Weightman

Paul Weightman 1-1 John Garnett


All-play-all Alekhine Tournament


Richard Harris 4.5/6

Graham Edwards 1/2

Royce Parker 0.5/2

Kevin Waterman 0/2



Results


Richard Harris 1-1 Graham Edwards

Richard Harris 2-0 Kevin Waterman

Richard Harris 1.5-0.5 Royce Parker

Monday, 1 March 2021

New Interview

This is the unedited version of an interview conducted by Matt Jackman for a CV8 Tennis project.



Head here for more about CV8:

Follow this link to learn more about Chess in Schools and Communities.


Tuesday, 9 February 2021

The Bible



Surprise!

My book is soon to be reissued, with a small number of updates, a new cover and a brand new title.

Further details are available here.

Project 30: January-April 2021

Project 30 hit the ground running at the start of 2021 with four new events.



Project 30 KO Championship 2021

Round One Results



Matt Jackman 1-0 Royce Parker

Dave Baillie 1-0 Dave Edmunds

Richard Harris 0-1 Peter Harker

Mike Pointon 1-0 Kevin Waterman

Sean Cassidy 0-1 Andrew Smith

Rayelynn Posadas 1-0 Graham Edwards

Paul Weightman 1-0 Bye

John Garnett 1-0 Bye


Round Two

John Garnett - Andrew Smith

Matt Jackman - Paul Weightman

Rayelynn Posadas 1-0 Peter Harker

Mike Pointon - Dave Baillie



Project 30 Rapidplay Match Championship


Round One Results


Matt Jackman 2-0 Kevin Waterman

Dave Baillie 1.5-0.5 Peter Harker

Richard Harris 2-0 Mike Pointon

Royce Parker 1-1 Andrew Smith (Andrew won the Blitz play-off, 2-0)

John Garnett 1-1 Rayelynn Posadas (Rayelynn won the Blitz play-off, 2-0)

Dave Edmunds 2-0 Paul Weightman

Sean Cassidy 2-0 Bye

Graham Edwards 2-0 Bye


Round Two

Dave Edmunds - Andrew Smith

Rayelynn Posadas - Matt Jackman 

Dave Baillie - Sean Cassidy

Graham Edwards - Richard Harris


Players eliminated from he first rounds of the above tournaments were invited to participate in the following all-play-all events.


All-play-all Capablanca Tournament

Kevin Waterman

John Garnett

Peter Harker

Mike Pointon

Royce Parker

Paul Weightman


All-play-all Alekhine Tournament

Kevin Waterman

Richard Harris

Royce Parker

Graham Edwards