Dear ECF Member
Welcome to the June edition of the Newsletter. In this edition we reproduce Malcolm Pein’s editorial from the May 2020 CHESS magazine, much of which covers the issue of online cheating in chess. We would like to thank CHESS magazine for permission to present this to all ECF members. We also feature an interview with 11-year-old Battersea Chess Club member Shreyas Royal, who has broken the 200-plus grading barrier. Tim Wall has written a superb polemic on chess as a metaphor through Ingmar Bergman’s 1957 classic film The Seventh Seal.
Lockdown has forced chess players into online options (also covered in Tim’s piece) and I had a great time supporting the ECF-British Red Cross 24-hour marathon on Chess.com. Hats off to ECF Manager of Social Media Danny Rosenbaum and all the donors who raised over £10k, and to our top players and 459 members who took part. For the record, FM Harry Grieve just edged out GM Danny Gormally for top spot by 517 points to 516. Danny writes, ‘I want to thank all those who helped to raise funds for the British Red Cross. It’s wonderful that in addition to those who donated prizes, and those who in effect donated time like streamers and grandmasters, there were literally hundreds of donations from players at all levels even those who could have no hope of winning a prize. It is great to see the ECF and the wider chess community coming together to help this great cause.’
In addition, ECF Manager of Chess in Prisons, Carl Portman, wrote on Twitter, ‘More than ever before, I felt a real sense of unity and purpose at the ECF charity Blitz event for the British Red Cross. I am not alone in that view. Chess proves again that it is a force for good.’
It looks like it could be still some time before we can go back to over-the-board chess, but our new ECF Managers of Online Chess, Nigel Towers and Jo Hutchinson (more below), will keep us all busy.
For Malcolm Pein’s Chess Editorial June 2020, click here
Chess and the Dance of Death
Tim Wall on the pandemic and how it has affected chess (some parts of the piece do not necessarily reflect the views of the ECF) – click here
By Royal Command
An interview with Shreyas Royal – click here
Welcome Nigel and Jo
The ECF Board have agreed the creation of two new positions, Manager of Online Chess and Manager of Women’s Online Chess, and are delighted to announce that Nigel Towers and Jo Hutchinson respectively have been appointed to the roles.
Jo writes, ‘I have been playing chess since I was 5 years old and still play, for fun and competitively, today. I have been involved with junior chess since 2003 where I have had various roles from being Lincolnshire U11 County Coach to running chess clubs in schools.
I think chess is very important for all age groups but especially young people, as it teaches life skills such as competitiveness, improves concentration, illustrates social etiquette and social skills to name just a few. It is also a game everyone, regardless of age, gender or disability can play.
However, chess is now changing, and in this current climate we are having to alter our perspectives. Due to the general nature of chess i.e. 2 players sat opposite each other for hours touching the same pieces, it is unlikely that ‘over the board’ chess will return for some time. Therefore, we have to change our perception to alternative play, mainly on the internet. There are numerous online chess sites that cater for all needs – correspondence, quick play, blitz etc. Therefore it makes sense to utilize these sites! There are already puzzles, games and tournaments up and running on Lichess, Chess.com and Chesskids among many others.
Therefore, my short term aim is to encourage more women and girls into ECF online activity. I would like to see women congregate to form teams (all female or mixed) with puzzles, daily games, weekly events, coaching activities and international tournaments, ideally getting ECF members to engage in these practices and to build the ECF online membership.’
ECF Awards 2020
Details of how to apply for this year’s ECF awards have been released. Nominations are invited for Club of the Year, Small Club of the Year, Online Chess Contribution, Congress of the Year, Magazine of the Year and the President’s Awards for Services to Chess (whose number has now been fixed at three). Alongside inviting citations for this year’s awards, the new Awards Committee Chairman Stephen Greep is also inviting comments on the awards scheme as a part of a consultation exercise on the future arrangements for the awards. Entries for this year’s awards close at the end of June. More here – https://www.englishchess.org.uk/applications-invited-for-this-years-ecf-awards/
ECF Finance Council Meeting
The delayed ECF Finance Council meeting will be now be held using Zoom on Saturday July 18th at the usual time of 1.30pm to 6.00pm.
National Online Club Championships
Stephen Greep writes, ‘A chance for your club to win a national title! A five-round Swiss to be played over the weekend of 26th-28th June. This is a six-board tournament (maximum of 10 players per team), played on the Lichess platform and managed through the ECF’s League Management System. Rules for the competition can be found here and the entry form here. Entries close at midnight on Sunday 21st June. £10 per team entry fee. Informal enquiries to the Championship Controller Stephen Greep at email@example.com
Gideon Segev writes, ‘The first AI chess tutor, DecodeChess explains the moves of a chess engine (Stockfish) in rich, intuitive language. With more than 10,000 registered members, from ages ages 9-89, DecodeChess is currently most effective for players in the strength range of 40-150 ECF, but also provides value for stronger players. GMs Dejan Bojkov and Boris Gelfand have already recommended it along with other IMs and chess tutors. If you use chess engines quite often and find it frustrating to be left with a cold answer, DecodeChess can help make sense out of those recommendations and to help you understand the WHY behind good moves. It’s also a great tool for parents who struggle with helping their children. For an example of the system’s capabilities please visit https://decodechess.com. Special offer to ECF Members – 60% off our annual subscription. Valid for 10 days from this newsletter being published. The discount applies only for the first year of the subscription, after which it will be full price ($99 per year.)
Our newly-appointed Online Chess Manager Nigel Towers writes — The first ECF English Online Blitz Championship and Checkmate Covid-19 events both went really well during May with further details, including winners and final standings, here – https://www.englishchess.org.uk/the-english-online-blitz-championships-update/ – and here – https://www.englishchess.org.uk/checkmate-covid-19-report/
The ECF also scheduled a very successful English Youth Championships at the end of May, winners and final standings at the address here – https://www.englishchess.org.uk/Juniors/english-youth-online-championship-prize-lists/
The England Women’s team have participated in a two stage Women’s team battle on lichess, with the finals played on 4th June – https://www.englishchess.org.uk/english-womens-international-team-battle-28th-may/. Jo played in the events and has provided a more detailed report below.
Many thanks to all those who took part in these events, and congratulations to the winners and runners up given the number of participants and the strength of the players taking part.
We are continuing with our six regular club events per week, and are planning a number of familiar ECF events in online format for the first time from June, including — the English Counties Championships which are about to start – https://www.englishchess.org.uk/online-county-championships-rules-published/ – and will continue over the Summer, and the National Clubs Championships, scheduled to be played over the weekend of 26th-28th June – https://www.englishchess.org.uk/national-online-club-championship/
We are also expecting to be fielding England teams in the upcoming chess.com Nations League which is scheduled to start around third week in June.
Most of the ECF online competitions are covered elsewhere in the newsletter in more detail, and I hope everyone is enjoying the events and able to participate in some of the upcoming ones. We are also starting to take on more local league and club events for online rating.
The ECF has published the latest version of its fair play policy which can be found here – https://www.englishchess.org.uk/ecf-online-fair-play-and-anti-cheating-rules/ and here on the online joining page – https://englishchessonline.org.uk/joinus/
The May rating list is delayed due to the time required to amend the rating system for the additional standardplay ratings, and to process 4NCL results, but the June list will be out shortly with events received to date.
Futher details can be found in the online pages here, which provide joining instructions for the clubs, a schedule of events, details of National and International Championships, online rating lists and support pages for organisers – https://www.englishchessonline.org.uk
ECF Club memberships continue to increase with current numbers as follows —
chess.com ECF Open club – 3,314
chess.com ECF Members – 850
lichess English Players – 525
Girls and Women Team Battle
Jo Hutchinson, the new Manager of Women’s Online Chess, reports — The English Women’s team led by WGM Jovanka Houska has been playing in an Online International Women’s Competition against a number of European National teams with the first round on Thursday 28th May and the second round on Thursday 4th June at 18.30 British Summer Time. The events were played on lichess in team battle format over 20 boards for purposes of the team score but with larger numbers participating from a number of European nations.
Round 1 of the competition was played at 6:30 pm UK time on Thursday 28th with two group stage matches (Groups A and B). England was in Group B with the English team playing against teams from Austria, Czech Republic, Switzerland and Portugal. The Group B event was extremely well attended with 650 players in total from the 5 nations and more than 100 women and girls in the English contingent. Scores were based on the 20 top scoring players in each team. The battle went down to the last few games and we finished a close second to the Austrian team.
Round 2 was played at the same time on Thurday 4th June where the England team played in the finalists match against Germany, France, Austria, and Hungary. The final was won by the German team with the French team in second. We came third in the finalists match just keeping our lead against the Austrian team to overturn the previous weeks order and ahead of the Hungarian team in 4th. An outstanding result for the England Women’s team in the inaugural lichess Womens team battle against nine other European federations across the two rounds. The match links can be found here along with Jovanka’s commentary —
https://lichess.org/tournament/5YQD6ZxI | https://lichess.org/tournament/BLPTPQgm | www.twitch.tv/jovihouska
Northumberland Chess Association’s magazine NCA Bulletin won the ECF Magazine of the Year award in 2019. We feature their most recent edition here
Online County Championships
Mark Murrell writes, ‘The Online Counties Championships start in earnest on 13th June following a preliminary familiarisation round the Saturday before. They have a different feel to the 100 years that have gone before. This is a new competition and not a substitute, of course. A seeded divisional format replaces regional qualifiers, feeding six Championships for the Finals stage in August. Interest rekindled in counties far and wide, a warm return to the likes of Berkshire, Cheshire, Cumbria, Gloucestershire, Northumberland, Oxfordshire and Somerset. Durham almost made it too. Follow the tournament throughout the summer on the Counties Championships Club page on Chess.com and the ECF LMS for full results. More here – https://www.englishchess.org.uk/online-county-championships-rules-published/ and rules here – https://www.englishchess.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/ECF-Online-County-Championship-2020-Rules-1.pdf
Alex Longson reports — The ECF Academy May training weekend took place online over a double header weekend – 2nd/3rd May and 9th/10th May. The weekends were thoroughly enjoyable, with 70 children and six coaches taking part. The coaching staff included GM David Howell, GM Danny Gormally, IM Lorin D’Costa, IM Andrew Martin, IM Ravi Kumar, FM Tim Wall and WFM Sarah Longson. In the mornings interactive Zoom classrooms were held covering topics ‘Best of British’, ‘Improving Your Pieces’ and ‘Alireza Firouzja spotlight’. The afternoons included activities on Lichess.org, such as coach simuls, rapidplay tournaments and quizzes. On the final Sunday we held a live quiz on our Twitch channel. Feedback from parents was hugely encouraging and whilst everyone is keen for over the board competition and training to resume, there are certainly elements of this weekend that worked better – in the future we hope to bring the best of both worlds. To register an interest for September’s training weekend or the full 2021 programme visit the website https://www.delanceyukschoolschesschallenge.com/training-academy/. To take part in the daily free live lessons and challenges follow us at https://www.twitch.tv/chessstarsacademy/
Braille Chess Association
The excellent Braille Chess Association (BCA) magazine May 2020 is out and credit is due to Julie Leonard for putting an excellent edition together – here
Online Fair Play
Follow these links – https://englishchessonline.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/ECF-Online-Fair-Play-and-ACv2_0-1.pdf and https://englishchessonline.org.uk/joinus/
Christopher Jones with the latest problems – click here
Alex Longson reports on the online tournament for 2020 here
Winton Problem Solving 2020
More here …
ECU Arbiters’ Workshop
This has come in from the ECU — The Arbiters Commission is pleased to announce two new workshops: the first one (June 10th, co-organized with ECU) will be dedicated to educating arbiters on best practices to fulfill their role in the new context of online competitions. The second one (June 18th) will provide some guidelines to arbiters in the process of title applications, with the aim of helping arbiters and federations to have their title applications approved timely and smoothly. Both webinars are free of charge, and we will appreciate it if you could forward this announcement to all the arbiters in your respective federations.To register, simply send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Prior to the start, the organizer will provide a link to join the webinar.
Gary Lane looks at Keep It Simple 1 d4 by Christof Sielecki and Emanuel Lasker – A Reader by Taylor Kingston here –
English Youth Online Championships results here – https://www.englishchess.org.uk/Juniors/english-youth-online-championship-prize-lists/
Tweet of the Month
Chess Magazine sampler for June – here
To buy the full June edition, click here – https://shop.chess.co.uk/CHESS-Magazine-June-2020-p/cb07849.htm
Tom Evans – https://www.ecforum.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=46&t=10778&sid=544e9ed5937ce3f5ec45d359efb48389
Lieutenant-General Sir Anthony Pigott – https://www.ecforum.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=46&t=10784&sid=544e9ed5937ce3f5ec45d359efb48389
Michael Delaney – https://www.ecforum.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=46&t=10800
Hugh Flockhart – https://www.ecforum.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=46&t=10807
Brian Heath – https://www.ecforum.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=46&t=10817