Welcome to the August edition of the eNewsletter. A successful British Championships in Hull ended with Michael Adams winning the Open for the sixth time, after a dramatic last day seeing both players tied on 7/9. Adams won the tie break rapidplay and blitz 2-1; Gawain Jones came third with 6.5/9 and Jovanka Houska won the Women’s title for the eighth time. You can read FM Tim Wall’s excellent account of the Championships below. We headline this month with an interview with Chris Fegan, ECF Director of Women’s Chess, whose appointment precipitated a robust debate about the suitability of a man assuming this role. Chris has tackled the issue head on, appointing Helen Frostick as Manager of Female Social Media, and he has extensive plans to attract more juniors and women to take up chess. We also have a round-up of excellent performances by England players in summer tournaments. The July gradings are out, so if you haven’t already seen if you can give up the day job to become a full-time player, here is the link – http://www.ecfgrading.org.uk/new/menu.php.
Please remember to update your membership or join if you have not done so already! The new system used by the ECF is GoMembership, administered by Azolve. User-friendly, easy to navigate and extremely efficient, it is a huge improvement! More on the new membership system here – https://www.englishchess.org.uk/new-membership-system/
Enjoy the rest of the summer!
— Mark Rivlin
Interview with Chris Fegan, ECF Director of Women’s Chess
As well as being a high-graded player (182) with a lot of experience in chess, many people know you through your day job at Chess in Schools and Communities. Tell us a bit about your role in CSC.
My role at CSC is at one level, fairly straightforward which is to ensure that the day-to-day activities of the charity is progressed and delivered according to the directions of the Trustees’ strategic objectives. In such a large and diverse organisation, this can be complicated.
Why did the role of Director of Women’s Chess interest you?
I was very concerned that the position was under threat and I was determined to try and ensure that the ECF continued the post. I am delighted that this has been achieved.
Without drawing you into a controversy that you had nothing to do with, can you understand why some women (and men) players feel the post might be better suited to a woman?
Yes, I can understand some of the views articulated but as I have said elsewhere I do not wish to comment on the appointment process. My aim is to move on to work and deliver for all the women, young and old in the English chess community.
You are currently the post holder until October and then if you wish to continue, you will need to be elected again? Is that correct?
That is my understanding.
Walk into any league night or tournament in the UK and generally the make-up of the hall will be predominantly white men over 40. Do you think this imbalance against women and people from BAME backgrounds is a problem for the ECF?
It is a massive problem for the ECF and also for chess generally. The whole chess community needs to take stock and to change the way that chess is delivered in England to reflect that we live in a diverse, modern 21st century society and if we are to be successful then English chess needs to adapt to modern times and modern lives. I have many plans and I am already starting to roll them out. Hopefully some of these will have been delivered by the time this article is seen by the wider ECF Membership. One of the more innovative proposals (at least for the chess world but fairly standard elsewhere) is crèche facilities and I am investigating the possibility of providing a crèche for the 2018 English Women’s Championships later this summer.
In your acceptance of the post you said: “I am looking forward to the challenge of working with men and women across English chess to change the culture of the game in this country.” What did you mean by this?
English chess needs to modernise to fit society and not the other way around. I have many ideas about this and hope to work with all English chess players of both genders in reaching out to wider society to make chess more accessible and welcoming and to radically increase the overall number of people playing chess in England. I also include social chess as being equally important.
What are your views on the Casual Chess initiative started by Women’s Chess Network? On their gofundme page they write as follows – “We are starting a Women’s Chess Network, in response to – The refusal of any funding contribution towards free chess lessons for women at Casual Chess, by the national chess body. An attempt by that body to abolish the Women’s Chess Director post, then appointing a man ahead of two qualified female candidates. The appointment of a male Captain of the Women’s Chess Olympiad Team.”
I am aware of Casual Chess and the recent request for ECF support and then the subsequent social media announcement to which you refer. One of the first things I did after being appointed was to write to the named organiser for Casual Chess/Women’s Chess Network and I offered to come to their venue and speak to the members there about how we can move forward together for the benefit of women wanting to be involved in chess in London. I have as yet not received a reply to my e-mail to her.
British Chess Championships
FM Tim Wall continues his excellent op-ed pieces on Chess in England with his reflections on the British Championships in Hull – click this link for the PDF
Excellent performances by English players over the summer
Another fine Jess
10-year-old Jessica Mellor from Guildford won the Girls’ Gold Medal Under 11s category at the European Schools Chess Championships held in Krakow, Poland. Jessica scored a brilliant 7.5/9 to claim clear first ahead of players from Russia, Turkey and Slovakia. More here – https://www.englishchess.org.uk/Juniors/gold-medal-for-jessica-mellor-at-the-european-schools/ and here – https://www.englishchess.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/ECF.Press_.Release.11.7.18.pdf
A great performance by our elder chess statesmen and women in the World Senior Team Championships in Radebeul, Germany. The men’s team came second in the 50+ section. The team won seven matches, drew one and lost one, finishing one point behind top seeds and gold medallists USA, whom England defeated in their Round 4 match. The England Women’s team in the 50+ section came third with Sheila Jackson winning the individual bronze medal with 4½/9 on board 1 and Petra Fink-Nunn winning the individual silver medal with 6½/9 on board 4. More here – https://www.englishchess.org.uk/england-wins-silver-at-world-senior-team-chess-championship/
Everything’s coming up Faroes
GM Gawain Jones and his partner WIM Sue Maroroa both participated at the Faroes Open. Gawain came third with 65.5/9 and Sue came 24th with four points. Check out these links – http://chess-results.com/tnr330086.aspx?lan=1&art=2&rd=9&flag=30 and
Australian Justin Tan won the Paracin Open in Serbia and got his final GM norm. Marcus Harvey did well with 6.5/9 and a 2445 TPR, just shy on norm while gaining 20 points. More here – http://chess-results.com/tnr343573.aspx
A strong performance from the GB team at the 8th IBCA Championships in Sofia. The team, coached by GM Andrew McDonald and led by England’s Chris Ross, finished 7th out of 8 in the Group A category. More here, including a fascinating 20-minute interview with Chris – https://www.englishchess.org.uk/8th-ibca-championships-for-blind-and-visually-impaired-chess-players/
Good posts in the Czech – English players in the Czech Open in Pardubice
IM Ravi Haria 6/9; IM Alan Merry and FM William Claridge-Hansen 5.5/9; WFM Louise Head 5/9. More here – http://chess-results.com/tnr365637.aspx?datatyp=&lan=1&flag=30
In form for norms
Joseph McPhillips gained a second IM norm at First Saturday event (Budapest) and James Adair got his first IM norm and came first at Hersonissos Open (Crete)
The England Men’s and Women’s teams for the forthcoming Olympiad in Batumi Georgia in October have been announced —
Open – Michael Adams, David Howell, Gawain Jones, Luke McShane and Nick Pert with John Nunn as non-playing captain
Women – Jovanka Houska, Dagne Ciuksyte, Akshaya Kalaiyalahan, Sue Maroroa and Louise Head with Lorin D’Costa as non-playing captain
Schools in for summer
Sponsored by Winchester College, the National Schools U19 finals were played at Uppingham School in Rutland. The tournament was won by Reading School with RGS Guildford in second place and City of London School and Nottingham High sharing third place. Brighton College won the Plate. More here – https://www.englishchess.org.uk/NSCC/u19-final-2018/
Check flag for English Youth
The ECF Youth Grand Prix arrangements for 2018-19 are here – https://www.englishchess.org.uk/Juniors/english-youth-grand-prix-2018-19/
Get fit for blitz!
The UK Open Blitz championship is going to be a countrywide affair this coming season. There will be eight 15-round qualifying Swiss tournaments played in different cities around the United Kingdom on Saturday, 8 September. Eligible players will be able to enter one qualifying tournament of their choice. The top two players in each qualifier will qualify for the Final on 1 December 2018, played at a date and venue to be announced. The top two female players in each qualifier will qualify for a Women’s Final, held concurrently. Both Finals and the qualifiers combined will have a total prize fund in excess of £5,000. Qualifier venues are listed here – https://www.englishchess.org.uk/uk-open-blitz-championship/
Battle Royal goes to the very top
Junior prodigy Shreyas Royal is still battling to be allowed remain in the UK following a Home Office directive that his parents, Jitendra and Anju Singh, will need to leave the country in September. The parents had appealed to extend their visas stating that Shreyas is a ‘national asset’ (fourth in World Cadets in Brazil last year and a current July 2018 grading of 176). The ECF have made a representation to Home Secretary Sajid Javid. More here – https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/aug/03/visa-battle-to-keep-child-chess-prodigy-shreyas-royal-in-the-uk
The ECF Manager of Chess in Prisons, Carl Portman, and the charity Chess in Schools and Communities are featured in this interesting Guardian piece which highlights the benefits of chess in Isis and Wandsworth prisons – https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/jul/15/prison-reform-latest-weapon-chess
Kings Placed – Adam Raoof reports on another bumper rapidplay tournament at the prestigious Kings Place
The Kings Place annual one-day tournament is acknowledged one of the largest one-day rapid play tournaments in the country with one of the biggest prize funds as well as providing opportunities for a range of players, and especially promising juniors. This year’s event was a great success (266 entries) despite a reduction in numbers due to a clash with the ECF County finals, notable junior tournaments and the England vs Sweden World Cup quarter final. The success or failure of next year’s Kings Place chess festival will depend on whether or not we can find a sponsor to support such a big event to cover the increased costs of the venue and the prize fund. More here – https://docs.google.com/document/d/11AmZdZ0HKN_AFXRLP59F6P3ZvshzqvKFbknIA_gU6EQ/edit?usp=sharing
World Championship venue and ticket prices
November’s world championship clash in London between Magnus Carlsen and Fabio Caruana will take place in The College in Holborn, central London (known as Midtown). Tickets for the match (which runs from 9 -28 November) are on sale via Ticketmaster here – – with a daily price of £45 up to £600. According to the FIDE press release from Ilya Merenzon, CEO of World Chess, “There are millions of chess fans in the UK – this is their chance to witness a battle of the world’s greatest minds”. Now that would be good for the ECF – millions of chess fans. More here – https://www.chess.com/news/view/carlsen-caruana-world-championship-venue-announced and here – http://www.locationhouse.co.uk/location/the-college/
Manchester hosted the Deaf Olympiad, with Serbia and Ukraine winning the Open and Men’s tournaments. England’s leading players were Alasdair Macleod 6.5/9 and Martin Lewis 6/9. More here – http://chess-results.com/tnr364954.aspx?lan=1 and here http://chess-results.com/tnr364998.aspx?lan=1
ECF Director of Junior Chess Traci Whitfield’s monthly round-up here – https://www.englishchess.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/junior_report_august2018.pdf
Normally a fairly mild evening out, this year’s London Chess League AGM was robust, to say the least. A motion to end adjournments was on the agenda to be voted on, but an amendment was carried instructing the committee to come back next year with more details on the proposal. One of the the best chess leagues in England is left as one of the few leagues and tournaments in which some matches may require a second meeting.
County finals – coming up roses
The county championship finals day in Leamington saw Lancashire retain the Open title against Yorkshire with the White Rose county taking the U180 title. All the results are here – https://www.englishchess.org.uk/lancashire-retains-the-county-championship/
Short backed and siding
The ECF have nominated the Nigel Short ticket in the forthcoming FIDE presidential election to be held in Batumi in October – https://www.englishchess.org.uk/fide-presidential-nomination/
Midland Open at Ramada, Telford (a British Championship Qualifier) for the Midlands Champion – http://www.mccu.org.uk/m_congress/index.htm
Michael John Haygarth
The former British Champion died in 2016, and it has taken this long for this sad news to filter through. More here – https://www.englishchess.org.uk/michael-john-haygarth-rip/
Father of GM Luke McShane, Rod died in April – https://www.englishchess.org.uk/rod-mcshane-rip/
John Leake of St Albans Chess Club