Sunday, 20 December 2015

Christmas Puzzle

Through a generous festive eye this position resembles a Christmas tree. This is a checkmate puzzle for the juniors with a few near misses that I wish I’d composed a couple of weeks ago. I like it though so we might have Christmas again in January at the club.

White is moving up the board as usual. Whether it is white or black to move they each have a single way to deliver checkmate in one move. 

Now move the black king to “h1” and change the direction so white is travelling down the board. If it is black’s move how many ways can he deliver checkmate in one move?

Finally magically transform the black knights and bishop into black pawns. How many moves can white force checkmate in on the king on h1?

Happy Christmas!

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Christmas Buffet

It was our final meeting before Christmas last night. We had the most unhealthy buffet I’ve even seen as the players chose what to bring in. A mountain of crisps and biscuits without anything close to fruit or salad in sight. Most of it got consumed which was a fine effort.

All that sugar didn’t do much for the chess and those crisps didn’t do much for the carpet but it was a fun afternoon with over 30 players coming along. I’ve attached a couple of photos of some actual chess although the buffet table proved the real centre of attention.


We will restart after Christmas on Tuesday 5th January with a bit of coaching for the players just starting off. Between then and Easter we’ll play a seven round club tournament as part of the Delancey UK Chess Challenge with plenty of prizes and a chance to qualify for the Essex Megafinal.

Today I went to the funeral of John Priestley. He was a very strong player and the first person I played at the adult Chelmsford Chess Club. I remember him telling me not to worry because although he was Chairman he wasn’t the best player at the club. This did not turn out to be the most accurate summary of his strength he could have given an 11 year old.

I remember him being tall and old but he was younger than I am now. I guess this means the children at the club also see me as old. A sobering thought.

Best Wishes

Thursday, 10 December 2015

8th December and the London Chess Classic

This week at the club we were all either learning or teaching a checkmate. Thank you to the stronger half of the club for sharing their time and skills. It was a good job they didn’t know we would run out of biscuits or they might not have been so happy. Next week we’ll have a Christmas buffet so no chance of running out of food.
 Josh and Harry pause to pose.

 Stewart about to put Ilamaaran out of his misery.

 Francesca and Charlotte in the foreground. It is nice to have so many girls at the club.

Matthew looking unusually serious against Saul

Wednesday I went up to the London Chess Classic at Olympia with 16 players from Moulsham Primary School. They had a great time and were a good advert for their school with the way they conducted themselves. The proof of the value of the day was everybody playing chess or solving problems on the tube and train journey home rather than the 5 medals won by some very fine chess.

The school sessions for 500 pupils a day are organised by Chess in Schools and Communities (CSC) who are doing excellent work introducing chess into the curriculum of schools across the country.

Wednesday evening was the Chelmsford adult chess club’s Christmas Party which is much like a regular chess night with the addition of a fine buffet (thank you Mario and Monica), free drink, music, some rather nice balloons that lit up in the dark, much socialising and a tournament.

Quite a few older juniors came along to discover an adult chess club (or at least Chelmsford’s) is a pretty fun place to be. I look after the junior players at the adult club and am keen to close the gap between the adult and junior chess world.

Best Wishes

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

More Club Photos 24th November 2015

Here are some more photos of today’s meeting. Welcome to Lucas, Cameron, Alex, Luke, Francesca and Erin who came along for the first time. Francesca and Erin had not played before but guided by first Wolfie (4) and his mum and then Leon (thank you– you did a great job) picked up how some of the pieces moved and had a good time playing as a team.

One of our members – Tommy – is in hospital with a broken leg. Hope you are feeling better soon Tommy and we look forward to seeing you in the New Year.

Best Wishes

Daniel's Simul

Thank you to Daniel Gallagher (British Under 15 Champion) for coming along to play a simul against the club today. He took on 9 players at once and as they finished others took their place. Perhaps not surprisingly Daniel won all the games but some were pretty close and it was a really fun event. Daniel picked out Olga, Vera and Stewart as the players who impressed him the most.

Below are some photos of the simul. Once again we had 30+ players along and used all our sets. Thank you to Writtle Chess Club for a timely donation of two chess sets to the club this week.

Best Wishes

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Delancey UK Schools' Chess Challenge

The UK Schools’ Chess Challenge (now sponsored by Delancey) has been running for many years. In 2015 48,200 children from 1,400 schools took part in tournaments in their own schools and clubs. In 2016 CJCC will be participating.

We’ll be running the tournament in the club over Spring Term. Players who score enough points in the different age groups will qualify for the Essex Megafinal. Some of our players will also be competing in their own schools and it is no problem to compete in separate tournaments at school and at the club.

Please ask your own school to enter if they do not do so because it is an excellent way to boost chess interest at school and (as a CJCC player) you should do well and perhaps even win it!

Best Wishes

Friday, 20 November 2015

Next Tuesday British Under 15 Champion Daniel Gallagher has kindly agreed to come along to the club to take on a number of our players in a simultaneous match. It is rare to have the opportunity to take on a national champion and should be a challenging and fun afternoon.

Last week we had a competition to win a copy of Spiderman 2 which turned up unexpectedly inside a chess book I’d got on ebay. We have a growing collection of chess books written for juniors at the club which everyone is welcome to borrow.

The puzzle was to find the square to put the black king on to allow a checkmate in one move for white (see below). Congratulations for Stewart for picking d3 (now find the checkmate!) but other players honed in on c6. It turned out the original puzzle was misprinted to allow 2 solutions so Stewart got the dvd and everyone else got drinks and biscuits. I think a white bishop on a8 would fix it.

Congratulations to everyone who played at Basildon the previous weekend. Full results will appear at Harry (our youngest competitor from the club age 5) was our best scorer and qualified for the London Junior Chess Championships with 4/6 in the Under 8 section.

This week I’ve been to coach at Springfield Primary and Moulsham Primary in Chelmsford and visited KEGS where 30+ boys from Years 7 and 8 took part in an after school tournament to try and get a place on the school team. In lieu of any photos from our club this week (I had the camera – just didn’t get a chance to turn it on) check out the photo on the KEGS twitter feed. It is great to see chess doing so well in some of our schools in Chelmsford.

Best Wishes

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

This Sunday is the Basildon Junior Chess Congress (one of a series that make up the Essex Grand Prix). Players from our club will be competing in all the sections from Under 6 to Under 18. Best of luck to everyone and results will appear at

Some players (juniors and adults) enjoy the competition of tournament chess and others prefer to play purely socially. Some enjoy solving puzzles and others enjoy looking at famous games and trying to work out the moves. One of the great things about chess is that you choose your own path.

Last week at the club the players in Year 5 and above looked at the first part of a game that will end in a fatal assault on the black king and debated the moves they would play at different stages. Points were awarded for choices and explanation. We’ll see the end of the game in a future week. Link below to the game.

Next week the younger players will be looking at dangers at the start of a game.

We’ll be using this puzzle soon as it is a favourite of mine. Devised by the rich imagination of English problem composer Thomas Dawson it invites you to find a checkmate in one move for white. No problem there but then you put the mating piece (and any captured piece) in the box and find a fresh checkmate. And again. And again. In total there are 12 consecutive checkmates to find. Enjoy!

Best Wishes

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

First Meeting

What a great first meeting for CJCC. It is difficult to guess how successful any new club will be in advance. I knew what we should be – a club that would welcome any young player of any level and provide a pleasant atmosphere for them to enjoy playing and improving their chess. But what about numbers?

As it turned out we had 30 children come along between 4 and 14. Some were experienced players, some almost completely new to the game. Some knew many of the other players, some didn’t know anyone. None of that mattered. There was a lovely buzz and everyone seemed to enjoy being surrounded by other children who enjoyed the game.

Thanks in particular to Scott (Year 10) who came along purely to coach and help the club run more smoothly and Josh (Year 5) who did such a good job organising the refreshments (his fellow biscuit guru Sebastian will be there next week).

A few parents asked me yesterday so in case I forget to mention it again the club is open from about 4.30pm to 6pm. There is no need to get there by 4.30pm or stay until 6pm and no need to commit to coming on particular weeks. Simply come along at the times and in the weeks it fits in with the rest of your life.

Below are some photos I took which I hope show a full and happy looking hall.

Roll on next week!

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

If you are an aspiring junior player ignore this as it could lead you into bad habits. 

Chess puzzles are a god way to improve when you are invited to find a checkmate or clever tactic and I have a wide selection to share for juniors of all ages and levels. This is the opposite – a self-mate puzzle.

These are my favourite type of chess problem. It is white to move. If he wanted to win he could deliver checkmate immediately in two different ways. No challenge there. But the problem is for white to move and force black to checkmate him. Black will play legal moves but pick the worst possible legal move. As usual white is moving up the board.

Doing this with juniors I cast the black player as King (or Queen) and the white player as a chess genius who needs to lose to this utterly useless but regal opponent to carry favour in court.

Warning: allowing the black pawn to promote on a1 won’t work because black picks a knight! This is generally the first try and gets a laugh when I stop the black player picking a queen. If you need the solution ask me but there are limited tries so you should get there pretty quickly.


Best Wishes

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Directions and Thanks

Dear Chess Parents and Chess Players

Chelmsford Junior Chess Club is all set for the first meeting after half-term on 3rd November (one week to go!).

We are in Room 1 in Christ Church which is at the front of the building on the lower level. Access to the building is via the car park which is accessed via Lower Anchor Street off London Road. It is simpler than it sounds. Below is a link to the URC site which gives you a google and hand-drawn map.

Thank you to the Essex Junior Chess Association who have donated a digital chess clock to the club. The EJCA website is the best source of information on all aspects of junior chess in Essex.

Thanks also to the adult chess club in Chelmsford who have provided financial support. You will find me there on Thursday evenings looking after the junior players. Some of Chelmsford’s older juniors represent the club in league matches.

Any questions about the club (or junior chess in general) please get in touch.

Best Wishes

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Club Introduction

Chelmsford Junior Chess Club will meet every Tuesday from 4.30-6.00pm at Christ Church in London Road. We’ll welcome young players of all ages and strengths and will provide a social and safe atmosphere for everyone to have fun playing and improving their chess.

The club is organised by an experienced and DBS-checked coach who did once have a grade over 200 (note for non-players – this is quite high) but now uses his talents to find ingenious ways to lose gracefully to 7 year olds.

There will be coaching at the club but the emphasis is on children playing and having fun with their chess. Chess is a game that children of almost any age can enjoy at a variety of different levels and improve logic and other skills at the same time.

The initial cost is just £2 per week plus a little (or a lot, depending on appetite) more for drinks and snacks. A junior chess club like the army marches on its stomach.

Please email me for more details and let any potential players know about the club.

 Robin Slade