Sunday, 31 December 2017

Best of the Year: 2017

It has been another fabulous year for gigs. I thought 2016 would be hard act to follow - and it was, but this year at least matched last year in terms of diversity, enjoyment and excellence (despite the noticeable lack of Jah Wobble, Patty Griffin, Bridie Jackson and the Arbour and the Sage Americana Festival - all top highlights of previous years).

Here are the highlights for 2017.
Celebrating David Bowie, Brixton Academy, 8 January. Mike Garson assembled a fabulous group of former Bowie-band members from across the various eras plus numerous special guests to start my year of gigs in great style.
Sophie Ellis-Bextor, The Sage (Gateshead), 18 February. A brilliant performance and the gig of the year.
Rod Stewart, 02 Arena, 27 February. A rearranged gig date was bad news for some but good news for me.
Camille O'Sullivan, Arc (Stockton), 8 March. A stunning blend of theatricality, intense performance, Bowie, Brel and lots more.
Laura Marling, Arc (Stockton), 24 March. This highly anticipated show sold out almost immediately and gave Arc another highly memorable evening.
Kraftwerk, The Sage (Gateshead), 14 June. An extraordinary audio/visual experience.
Cliff Richard, Old Royal Naval College (Greenwich), 2 July 2017. A triumphant performance at a magnificent venue.
Brian Setzer's Rockabilly Riot! 02 Forum, Kentish Town, 11 July. Exemplary. Stray Cats fans - stay tuned for an exciting announcement on 2 January 2018.
Gary Numan, Exhibition Centre (Liverpool), 27 July.  The debut performances of many of the new Savage songs. I enjoyed my first visit to Liverpool since the early 1980s too.
Miranda Lambert, Eventim Apollo (Hammersmith) 23 August. Supported by Ward Thomas and showcasing the new songs from The Weight Of These Wings.
Sparks, Boiler Shop (Newcastle), 19 September. Mosh pit only for this one, with Sparks enjoying playing their new Hippopotamus songs plus all of the old favourites.
Gary Numan, Brixton Academy, 14 October. Yes, he makes the list twice this year. He is writing, playing and singing better than ever.
Gabrielle Aplin, ULU (London), 26 October. Still one of the UK's best-kept secrets. Catch her if you can; she's a wonderful singer/songwriter/performer.
 Chris Isaak, Bluesfest at the 02 Arena. Double bill with...
 Hall and Oates, 28 October. Top entertainment from start to finish.
Bananarama, York Barbican, 16 November. One of the year's most unlikely comebacks (with the original line-up). Brilliant!

UB40, Eventim Apollo (Hammersmith) 5 December. Bought on the spur of the moment, I managed to bag the final online ticket. A very impressive gig.

Slade, Manchester Academy, 17 December. The very front of the mosh pit and my ears are still ringing to prove it. Superbly entertaining and a real feel-good show, with the whole audience being in a great mood and the band on top form.
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The finale for 2017 featured an extraordinary triple-bill of Carol Decker...
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Toyah...

...and Kim Wilde for the Wilde Wild Xmas Show, The Ritz (Manchester), 17 December.

Will 2018 be able to match 2017? We'll see...


Sunday, 26 November 2017

Project 30 Rapidplay: Round One Complete

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Head to the CSC Teesside blog for the full results of round one and the draw for the semi-finals.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Project 30: Two New Events


Time to announce two more aspects of Project 30.

So far we have started an Individual KO Championship and a Rapidplay Match Championship, both which have started well and will continue to run throughout the chess season.

We have also had a very impressive simultaneous display by WFM Sarah Hegarty at Ings Farm Primary School, in which the brilliant England International and former British Champion played - and defeated - 20 juniors all at the same time.

There are at least two more simultaneous displays by titled players in the pipeline for 2018.

Meanwhile, we can now announce two more brand new events.

New Event 1

An Outstanding Student trophy award for the person from each one of our CSC Teesside curriculum schools has most impressed the CSC tutors and teachers over the course of the school year 2017-8.

New Event 2

A problem solving tournament, open to all players at our CSC Teesside curriculum schools.

Full details will be circulated to the relevant schools in the near future.

Stay tuned for more Project 30 announcements...

Friday, 10 November 2017

Project 30: Sarah's Simul

Today brought a very special event for Project 30.

WFM Sarah Hegarty came to Teesside for a 20-board simultaneous display!

We had an excellent and hugely enjoyable day.

The full story can be found here.

Monday, 2 October 2017

Project 30: First Two Events Unveiled

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As previously mentioned, Project 30 will bring the introduction of at least 14 new chess events for 2017-8. Some will be for juniors, some will be for seniors and some will be for both.

Other events will be open to the public and I am currently talking to four well-known titled players about some very special events.

There will be lots of announcements soon.

Today we can unveil the first two events for the senior players.

Project 30: KO Championship

Round 1


Peter Harker vs. David Wise

Mike Creaney vs. Matthew Jackman

Dave Edmunds vs. Brian Whitaker

Sean Marsh vs. John Garnett

Julian Allinson vs. David Baillie

Paul Weightman vs. Andrew Smith

Kevin Waterman vs. Richard Harris

Bernie Price vs. Sean Cassidy



Project 30: Rapidplay Match Championship

Round 1


Julian Allinson vs. Dave Edmunds

Richard Harris vs. John Garnett

Sean Marsh vs. David Baillie

David Wise vs. Matthew Jackman


Regular updates will follow...

Monday, 11 September 2017

Giving Something Back

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My very good friend and CSC colleague David Hardy recently wrote a chess book and I have just posted a review here.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

8th Mike Closs Memorial Tournament - Report

As mentioned yesterday, today brought the 8th Mike Closs Memorial Tournament.

I replaced the unavailable defending champion Julian Allinson in this year's line-up, thus making my tournament debut after seven years of 'merely' being in the role of organiser.

The players had to pick a comedy-themed envelope to determine the pairings.
The others chose first and left me with Tony Hancock. Stone me, what a life!
Everything is ready and now I await the guest stars 
Play was soon underway. The four players had to play each other four times at 5-minute chess.

Kevin Winter
David Baillie - former champion of this event
and the only person to have played in all eight.
Richard Harris
Me, hard at work
Richard arrived with gifts! He had spent part of the morning baking excellent blueberry muffins. Chess tournaments are civilised here at Marsh Towers.


The scores of the first cycle of games were:

Sean Marsh: 5.5/6
Kevin Winter 3.5/6
David Baillie 3/6
Richard Harris 0/6

I drew against Kevin in the final game of the first cycle when Kevin should really have won.
Enjoying the muffins at half-time
The second cycle saw the pace increase and brought the most closely contested games.

Scores of the second and final cycle of games:

Sean Marsh: 4.5/6
David Baillie 4/6
Kevin Winter 3.5/6
Richard Harris 0/6

I lost the final game of the event when I missed a key move in Kevin's attack. I had a lost position in one of the games against David too but managed to hold a draw.

Final scores:

Sean Marsh: 10/12
David Baillie 7/12
Kevin Winter 7/12
Richard Harris 0/12

All of the games were hard-fought and many sacrifices were played. Mike would have enjoyed the games, that's for sure.

Champion
Lunch after the tough battles
Thank you, everyone. The 9th Mike Closs Memorial Tournament will definitely go ahead in 2018.