The third ECF Chess Academy weekend of 2019 was held on 14-15 September at the Holiday Inn in Reading. There was a good turn out of over 60 children of all ages and chess abilities. They received five hours of training on each day and worked together in seven different ability groups participating in group exercises. Coaches for this weekend included – Andrew Martin (IM), Glenn Flear (GM), Tim Wall (FM), Andrew Ledger (IM), Richard Pert (IM), Neil McDonald (GM) and Adam Hunt (IM). Different age cohorts covered different chess topics and those children who started the Academy in 2017 studied the exchange sacrifice, the minority attack, the best games of Tigran Petrosian and asymmetric endgames.
As always the weekend had a full programme and also included an 8 round FIDE-rated blitz on the Saturday evening. For the first time an ECF Alumni weekend training was held and ran concurrently. This event was attended by participants who had already completed the three year Academy programme, graduating in 2018. This high level training had an additional mentoring component and the alumni are planning to participate together in an international tournament later this year in France. The training was organised by a chess parent and run by GM David Howell and WGM/IM Jovanka Houska, both of whom have recently been selected to play chess for the England team in the forthcoming European Team Championships at Batumi in Georgia.
Parents were kept busy with presentations, including an overview of the new Academy modular programme starting in January 2020. They also enjoyed a great talk by David Howell about his remarkable chess career – three times British Champion and a Grandmaster since 2007. He is a particular inspiration to young players because he still holds the record for the youngest person to defeat a Grandmaster in an official game (at the age of 8 in 1999).
The fourth and final Academy Training of 2019 will take place in the middle of November. This will also be when the second tranche of Academy graduates who started in 2017 will complete their three year training!
Applications for next year’s 2020 Chess Academy opened online on 23rd September.
— Mimi Khan & David Gray