ECF Academy – Study Weekend September 2018

This entry is part 4 of 5 in the series Chess Academy Weekends

The Chess Academy’s third training weekend of 2018 took place at the Park Inn Hotel in Nottingham on 8th and 9th September. Over 80 students were allocated into 10 training groups for a full programme of teaching sessions based on the FIDE syllabus. There was also the popular Blitz competition on Saturday evening, as well as sessions each day designed for parents.
The coaches, as usual, were of the highest level and included Andrew Martin, Glenn Fear, Neil McDonald, Nigel Davies, Dan Fernandez, Adam Hunt, Tim Wall, Charlie Storey and Adam Taylor. Much work went into preparing a total of twelve training sessions for the weekend and including two major and two minor subjects for each year group. An example of major topics covered were ‘How Grandmasters win in the Modern Game’ and ‘The Best Games of Gary Kasparov’, while minor subjects included ‘Why Amateurs Lose’ and ‘Appreciating Endgame Studies’.  All the children have homework online after each training weekend, followed up by a short test.
The popular Girls and 14 + clubs took place on Saturday evening, and provided a space for the children to relax and chat together.
Sessions for parents included extremely useful talks on how they could best support their children in their chess lives. There was also very helpful advice from Mike Forster about how to get the best out of ChessBase, the industry standard computer program that has over 8 million games in its mind-boggling database.
The Academy’s work is based on a three-year programme and organises its students into annual cohorts, with the original cohort having started in January 2016. That group will therefore be graduating at the final training weekend of 2018. This will be a big achievement not just for them, but also for the Academy itself. Expect celebrations in November !
Since its inception in July 2015, the Academy has focused on developing the potential of the best young chess players in England. Its vision, in the words of the original prospectus, has been “to enable junior chess players to develop a lifelong love of chess, reach their playing potential, use chess to enrich other areas of their lives including their education and become the inspirational adult players of the future”. The Academy can therefore be proud of its success in bringing its first students through to their graduation.
Another success has been that the annual cohorts continue to grow in size. There will be 30 places available for the January 2019 cohort starting their studies in the fourth year of the Academy’s operations. On top of this, as before, there will also be a number of places available for taster weekends during 2019. Full details are available on the ECF Juniors website.
None of this would have happened without Traci Whitfield, who founded the Academy in 2015 and whose dynamism, enthusiasm and sheer hard work brought it to fruition and steered it to the successful graduation of its first students. She has been an inspirational Director of Junior Chess and laid the foundations for the Academy and the International Programme. Her successor will be announced at the ECF AGM in October. The message from all the students and parents who have enjoyed and benefited from the past three years is – thank you, Traci!

— from David Gray

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