The Academy’s first training weekend of 2019 took place at the familiar and comfortable location of Coventry’s Holiday Inn on 5th-6th January. Thirty new students formed the new cohort for 2019 starting the 3-year Academy programme, and they were joined by the 2018 and 2017 cohorts following respectively the second and third years of their studies.
As before, the weekend consisted of ten teaching and two evaluation sessions with high-level coaches. Andrew Martin continues as Head Coach and he was accompanied by Glenn Fear GM, Neil McDonald GM, Nigel Davies GM, Ravi Kumar IM, Charlie Storey FM, Andrew Ledger IM and Richard Pert IM. Twelve different topics from the official FIDE syllabus were taught across the three cohorts.
Following the departure of Traci Whitfield, the Academy’s founding director, the programme is now being run by Alex and Sarah Longson as caretaker managers for the first two weekends of 2019. Sarah and Alex are well known and highly regarded for their successful organisation of the UK Chess Challenge during the past two years. They were joined in Coventry by Alex Holowczak, who is the current ECF Junior Director.
One of the most important aspects of the Academy is the involvement of parents, who not only accompany their children at the weekends, but also participate in sessions to help support their chess development. The Academy’s students are at the forefront of junior chess in England and their parents are committed to helping their progress, including the opportunities to play at national and international levels.
In this context, it was no surprise that there was keen interest in the parents’ session in Coventry when Alex Holowczak explained the proposed new ECF selection policy for international events. A long discussion followed and amendments were made.
In addition to all the training there was also a rated Blitz tournament on Saturday evening and a good deal of socialising during the weekend.
— Mimi Khan & David Gray