I joined Chelmsford Chess Club over 30 years ago and enjoyed my time playing competitively in local leagues, county matches and individual tournaments. My rating climbed in the last few years I played up to a high point of 203. At the same time I was beginning to work with some local junior players. It reached the point where I could either devote my time to my own game or helping more juniors but if I tried to do both I wouldn’t have time to do either justice.
It was an easy choice because I was beginning to find the junior work more interesting. These days I spend all my chess time organising and coaching junior chess. The chess I play now generally involves finding graceful and educational ways to lose to the juniors while trying to win stylishly against the adults.
In Chelmsford I started and run a junior club (CJCC – see link below) and also look after the juniors who attend the adult club. I also help coach and organise chess at King Edward VI Grammar School (KEGS) and Moulsham Primary. Further afield I help out the Essex Junior Chess Association at their tournaments as well as working as an EJCA coach, U18 organiser and Compliance Officer.
The ethos of CJCC is to give children a chance to have fun learning and playing chess in a social atmosphere. Children who are after a slightly more cerebral chess experience come along to the adult club where they alternate between looking at chess with me, playing among themselves and challenging the adult players.
Both schools I work with had a great season in 2015/2016. KEGS qualified for and finished 5th in the National U19 School Championship and finished 5th at the Eton College Rapidplay. Moulsham U9s and U11s reached the semi-finals of the National Primary School competition held at Pontins in Camber Sands and visited the London Chess Classic. With KEGS and Moulsham I help organise the trips as well as coach the chess. Once you’ve taken a primary school on the tube in rush hour explaining the Fried Liver Attack holds no fears.
In between all this and a full-time job in Chelmsford Library I also do some private chess work with junior players. These are relaxed and social sessions and the diverse cultural backgrounds of the players has widened my appreciation of different culinary traditions around the world. For the schools and the individual players I am as concerned with the spirit the chess is played in as with the results.
My approach is to try and give each player what they need. This may be an opponent, a mentor, a coach or a mix of all three. Some of the players compete internationally while others are just starting off. Regardless of their level I want to make their chess and chess learning more fun and more interesting. Because I’ve worked with some of the juniors over a number of years I also help some of them with their wider education and enjoy watching them grow up and have fun on and off the board.
Please feel free to get in touch with me at the address below about any aspect of junior chess and I’ll do my best to help.