Welcome to the February edition of the ECF eNewsletter. In this edition we take a look at our players’ performances at Wijk aan Zee and Gibraltar, a chess love story from the north, a roundup of the junior chess scene and an interview with tournament organiser and arbiter Adam Raoof.
I regularly read the English Chess Forum at https://www.ecforum.org.uk/, and enjoy the robust debate and some very good comments. I’d like to to publish a chess viewpoint each month in the newsletter on any subject related to English chess. So if you have a strong opinion and want to get a message across to the membership, then please send me a maximum of 300 words to firstname.lastname@example.org and provided the content is not offensive (in the pejorative sense, not playing style), I am happy to publish it. I am also keen to publish stories on and off the board relating to chess in England so if you have an event / tournament to publicise, or a story / anecdote then please send it to the email address above.
Talking of the English Chess Forum, there’s a good thread entitled Media Comments on Chess — https://www.ecforum.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=5043&start=2145&hilit=chess+and+media. Add to the list this intriguing intro by film guru Mark Kermode on the obscure 2013 film Computer Chess – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rkafzZUHPkk. The film is available to download from British Film Institute here — https://player.bfi.org.uk/subscription/film/watch-computer-chess-2013-online
— Mark Rivlin
Across the Board – an interview with Adam Raoof
You are an arbiter, tournament organiser, coach and player, and you hold down a job at Middlesex University. With so many moves, how do you make the time control?
My job with Middlesex is part-time, and involves training staff to use software in order to save them time administering various processes like making appointments, running the help desk or providing feedback to our 20,000 students. I apply the same principles to running chess tournaments, automating processes through chessengland.com, taking entries online using the jotform programme at jotform.com and using Swiss Manager – swiss-manager.at – to run tournaments which saves an awful lot of time. Over the board is a different matter – I still get into time trouble! I’ve recently introduced a one-stop registration page for all my events and more which is proving really popular.
Your legendary Golders Green monthly rapidplay events now include an Under 80 Section. How many people, particularly juniors, move up to higher sections and do casual players not playing for clubs signing up for the lower sections?
We have a new venue with much more space and we’ve able to add a section for players under 80 or playing in their first tournament which has proved to be a success. I don’t compile statistics but anecdotal evidence over 27 years shows that juniors regularly move up through the sections as they improve. Casual players not playing for clubs are increasingly coming to tournaments because playing online gets boring for them and they want an over-the-board chess experience. And six rounds in a day gives them just that.
You are not afraid to take a punt on new venues and tournaments. How did the popular annual Kings Place tournament get started? And are your FIDE blitz and standard play tournaments gaining in popularity?
Kings Place came about because the chess-loving proprietor of the building wanted to get a tournament going. This was a dream come true for me because normally such venues are not affordable. This year the costs are higher but we are now approaching 400 players over five sections which normally makes the books balance. We are constantly looking for sponsorship, especially for the junior prizes in the tournaments. At Kings Place the bottom section is mainly for juniors and has now become such a big tournament that we need a separate room for it this year. The FIDE-rated tournaments at Hampstead are regularly ‘sold out’ and I’ve had to start turning players away. I clearly need a bigger venue! The Blitz tournaments at Hendon Chess Club on the first Thursday of every month are regularly full and there are now several other organisers in London providing internationally rated standard, rapid and blitz chess events on a regular basis.
What are the most notable differences between club-player level tournaments in England and abroad?
I recently went to the Netherlands to play in a weekend tournament alongside the big chess festival at Wijk aan Zee and I can compare it directly to perhaps an event like Hastings but there are differences in delivery. Abroad there are big sponsors for an event with the commentary room alone attracting around 200 people. And there can be up to 2000 people playing in a tournament. Certainly London Chess Classic is a world class event but it is sad that Hastings does not attract as many people as it used to.
Give us an idea of the amount of work that goes into running a tournament the size of Kings Place …
I use a the Asana software – asana.com – to manage all my projects, including chess. The list of things that have to be done for every chess event is almost identical for Kings Place and I’m only part of the way through the list for this year’s event on 7 July!
What are the most common disputes that come up for arbitration?
Managing the illegal move rule provides the most work for an arbiter, especially when the rule changes from one year to the next.
What are your ambitions in chess?
My ambition for the next year is to increase the number of adult students who attend my classes as I believe adult improvers are not as well served by chess coaches. It seems to me that you either have to be a junior or a titled player in order to receive chess coaching face to face. I have discovered that teaching groups of adults is fun and it is very rewarding to watch your students win with ideas you’ve just shown them!
Me and misses Jones? Gawain Jones put up a gutsy performance at the prestigious Wijk aan Zee tournament
Having won the Challengers last year Jones joined a stellar field which included three world champions and finished with +1 -4 =8 and a respectable 10/14th place. And it could have been a whole heap better when Jones found himself the beneficiary of a rare Magnus Carlsen blunder (a Bishop no less) in their match. But there was no fairytale ending as the current world champion came back to win what Chess 24 described as ‘the most memorable game of the tournament’ and the tournament itself after a playoff against Anish Giri. More here – and here – ; (scroll down to Number 9 – ‘Gawain was a plucky underdog’)
After the exciting playoffs at the London Chess Classic and Wijk aan Zee, the Tradewise Gibraltar Masters followed suit with another nail-biter as Levon Aronian beat Maxime Vachier-Lagrave to clinch the playoff. Mickey Adams shared joint first with six other GMs who finished on 7.5/10 while David Howell led the chasing pack and his impressive 7/10 included a draw with Hikaru Nakamura. Liverpool IM Gary Quillan had a great win against GM Danil Dubov in the first round. More here –
Chess in Schools (CSC) needs Tutors
Founded in 2009, CSC empowers children through chess, improving educational outcomes and social development. The excellent work the charity does is dependent on its tutors who work with schools across the country. The following courses are taking place: Newcastle 27 Feb, London 28 Feb, Havering 6 Mar, Bristol 23 March, Liverpool 28 March, Edinburgh 7-8 Apr, Cardiff 26 April, Leeds 25 May, Teesside 7 June. More here – https://www.chessinschools.co.uk/we-need-you and here – https://www.chessinschools.co.uk/forms/become-a-tutor
And the Academy awards go to
The ECF Academy is motoring. Now 100-plus students strong, recent excellent performers include Alex Golding, Adam Taylor, Ravi Haria, Alan Merry, Niamh Bridgman, Christopher Tombolis, Aarnavh Trivedi, Nilomi Desai, Roshan Gurjar, Abigail Weersing, Aarnavh Trivedi, Arnav Srivastava, Julia Volovich and brothers Gavith and Kian Dharmasena, who joined the Academy in January. Full details of individual performances here – https://englishchess.org.uk/Juniors/ecf-chess-academy-news/
The increasingly popular National Schools Girls Tournament has attracted record numbers this year —
Under 19 Girls 2018 Southern Semi-Finals results
Qualifiers – North London Collegiate A, St Paul’s GS A, Nonsuch, Lady Eleanor Holles, Howell’s School, St Catherine’s Bramley A, North London Collegiate B.
Under 19 Girls 2018 Northern Semi-Finals results
Winners – Fernwood School, Nottingham
Under 11 Girls 2018 Southern Semi-Finals results
Qualifiers – Guildford High A, Castleview, Guildford High B, North London Collegiate B, North London Collegiate A, North London Collegiate C, Heathside.
Under 11 Girls 2018 Northern Semi-Finals results
Winners – RGS Newcastle NSCC Girls’
The latest from the Junior 4NCL here – http://www.4ncl.co.uk/j4ncl/jn_news.htm
Yorkshire Junior Rapidplay tournament – https://www.englishchess.org.uk/yorkshire-junior-rapidplay-tournament/ (if only to encourage other contributors)
Congratulations to FM Adam Taylor for securing his first IM Norm at the Hastings International Chess Congress 2017/18. With 5½/9 in the Masters and a TPR of 2452 he secured the norm after a final round draw with GM Bogdan Lalic.
Nine year old Shreyas Royal has enjoyed recent success achieving joint second in the U170 section at the Bury congress and also taking the U16 junior award. At the London Junior Chess Championships Shreyas came third in the U14 Major section. And at Hastings Christmas morning event he won a grading prize and in the Christmas afternoon tournament he came joint second. Shreyas has also been turning out for Beckenham & Charlton in the London Chess League.
A delightful Manchester Evening News article on how Yaoyao Zhu and Adam Ashton fell in love over the chess board along with 3Cs excellent work with juniors in Oldham – https://www.englishchess.org.uk/manchester-evening-news-chess-article/
Start White’s clock
Another ECF arbiter course has been arranged for 19-20 May in Hull. More here: https://www.englishchess.org.uk/ecf-arbiter-course-registration/
Chess mag teaser
This month’s Chess magazine espresso read here
A roundup of the chess scene in Worcester: https://www.englishchess.org.uk/2017-round-up-from-worcestershire-chess/
Midlands Rapidplay and Blitz
The inaugural Midlands Rapid & Blitz organised by the MCCU is taking place in Walsall on 17-18 February. There are four Rapidplay sections and one Blitz section, each with 9 rounds, and a prize fund of £2,680. Information here – http://www.mccu.org.uk/m_congress/index.htm
Guildford to the fore, again – 4NCL second weekend roundup
Guildford continued their excellent form in 4NCL as the seven GMs and one IM secured 7-1 wins against Barbican 2 and White Rose 1. A full report here – http://www.4ncl.co.uk/download/reports1718/4NCL_Weekend_2_Report.pdf
In the 4NCL FIDE-rated congress in Harrogate GM Mark Hebden took the Open prize and Roger de Coverly won the Major.
4NCL Harrogate congress results here – http://www.4ncl.co.uk/fide/prizewinners_17.htm
IM Alan Merry defends his Shropshire Congress Open title. More here: http://www.shropshirechesscongress.co.uk/
Obituary – Stan Cranmer
Latterly of Ashfield Chess Club in Notts, Stan was a correspondence CM and died aged 87 on 20 January. His obituary is here – and eulogies are here – https://www.ecforum.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=46&t=9494&sid=919c478a0ea0727e88c7bcbd1748243a