Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Find the Hat!

During my recent Edinburgh expedition I made a number of new friends, including Dennis Anderson.

Dennis told me of his visit to the Marshall Chess Club in New York. The club is named after Frank James Marshall, a former World Championship challenger and a player noted for his ambitious, lively style.

Dennis was the proud owner of a Marshall Chess Club hat but somehow it was lost as he traveled by train from Weymouth to Bath. The train may well have had a good clean out at Bristol.

Dennis would love to be reunited with his hat (unfortunately such hats are no longer available from the Marshall Chess Club), so if anyone has it or knows where it may be then please get in touch. 

A reward is available!

Monday, 26 March 2018

Project 30: New Event Announcement

We have a new announcement for Project 30.

The 10th Mike Closs Memorial Tournament will take place very soon and it will feature a number of core players from the Cleveland Chess Association A Division Champions, Redcar A.

Thus it will be a triple celebration.

The line up will be announced soon but it is all set to be a very strong tournament.

A report on the 9th Mike Closs Memorial can be found here.

Incidentally, last week Redcar A played away at Thornaby (Mike's last club) and I had the great honour of playing on the Mike Closs Memorial Board for the very first time.

Monday, 19 March 2018

Project 30: Celebratory Tournament

Project 30: Celebratory Tournament and Meal

The original idea for this event was to invite players from my three chess clubs (Guisborough, Elmwood and Redcar).

All was set for a fabulous day. I had arranged the players into two strong all-play-all groups, with the winners of each group scheduled to play in the big final.

However, the weather threw a considerable spanner in the works and a combination of 11 inches of snow, cancelled trains and ungritted roads frustrated the intentions of no fewer than five of our players. Yet others had a clearer passage from home and contacted me to say they were confident of getting through. It was a busy morning on the phone, emails and Facebook as messages pinged in and out with alarming regularity.

I decided to wait and see who turned up before altering the format and I took along some trusty Swiss pairing cards just in case.

Eventually it became clear we had seven players able to make it through the snow and ice and I added myself to make it an equal number, then changed the format to make it all-play-all with 25 minutes on each clock.

The original plan included a lunch break but I didn't want anyone venturing out so I cleaned out McColl's on my way to the venue.

We hired The Buffs Social Club out for the day (The Buffs is the current Stockton chess club - the descendant of the now-defunct Elwmood) and the Function Room proved to be an excellent venue.

And so, the players were:
Sean Cassidy, Buffs and Stockton Library Supremo

Matt Jackman - the future Teesside No.1
Bernie Price - The Hartlepool Gamibteer
Peter Harker - former Hartlepool Junior and club stalwart
Mike 'Smiler' Creaney - one of the strongest
1 d4 players around
Paul Weightman - library chess tutor and all-round gent
Brian Whitaker - CCA Chairperson and
Thornaby Library supremo
Me - in a late switch from organiser to player
The games were extremely hard-fought and despite the tension created by the competitive aspect of the day and the reduced clock times, there were very few outright blunders over the course of the seven rounds.

The final scores were:

6.5: Sean Marsh (a draw with Bernie)
5.5: Matt Jackman (defeat against me; a draw with Sean C)
5:    Bernie Price
4:    Sean Cassidy
2.5: Brian Whitaker
2:    Peter Harker, Mike Creaney
0.5: Paul Weightman


Project 30 wasn't quite done for the day, as some of us headed directly to Borges for an excellent celebratory meal, where many a good laugh was had and, in one case, an authentic Teesside Parmo.

Thank you to everyone who supported either one or both events.

There is still plenty more Project 30 action to come.

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Project 30 Update and Summary of Events

Project 30, my year-long series of celebratory events, is proceeding in excellent fashion.

Here is a summary of events.

Rapidplay Match Championship

After many exciting encounters, we are now all set for the six-game final, in which I will face Matthew Jackman.

KO Championship

We are now at the semi-final stage and the pairings are:

Andrew Smith vs. Dave Edmunds

Sean Marsh vs. Matthew Jackman

Harry Potter Evening

This special event at Stockton Central Library was a great success and a report can be found here.

30 Years Library Event

One of the best evenings of my life! A report can be found here.

Radio Tees

A full hour on Radio Tees with Bob Fischer! More here.

Simultaneous Displays

WFM Sarah Hegarty's simultaneous display at Ings Farm Primary School was one of the first Project 30 events. A report on this very memorable day can be found here.

GM Matthew Sadler and WFM Natasha Regan will be on Teesside soon for a very special event. Head here for further details.

Celebratory Tournament

A celebratory tournament will take place in March, featuring specially invited players from my three chess clubs (Guisborough, Elmwood and Redcar).

Outstanding Student

I have a prize for the outstanding student in each of our CSC Teesside schools, which will be awarded in the Summer term.

Problem Solving Tournament

Another brand new event for 2018, this will take place at Park End Primary School and children from all 16 of our CSC Teesside schools will be invited to pit their wits against each other.

Further details of the above events with follow in due course.

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Project 30: KO Championship Semi-finals

Project 30: KO Championship Semi-finals

The second round has now been completed.

Julian Allinson draw Dave Edmunds (Dave goes through)

Peter Harker 0-1 Matthew Jackman

Andrew Smith 1-0 Bernie Price

Richard Harris 0-1 Sean Marsh

Cleveland Chess Association Chairperson Brian Whitaker made the draw for the semi-finals (he and I were together at yesterday's CSC Training Day in Newcastle).

The semi-final pairings are:

Andrew Smith vs. Dave Edmunds

Matthew Jackman vs. Sean Marsh

Games to be completed by the end of April 2018.

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Project 30 Update

The semi-finals of the Project 30 Rapidplay Match Championship have now concluded.


John Garnett 1.5-2.5 Sean Marsh (two wins to one with one draw)

Matt Jackman 2.5-1.5 Julian Allinson (first game win by Matt and the next three all drawn)

Matt and I will now contest a six-game Rapidplay match to bring this particular contest to its conclusion.

The first round of the Project 30 KO Championship has now concluded too. In the final fixture of the round, Dave Edmunds beat Brian Whitaker after what sounded like a very long and interesting game and here is the revised draw for the second round.

First Round Results

Peter Harker 1-0 (d) David Wise

Mike Creaney 0-1 Matthew Jackman

Dave Edmunds 1-0 Brian Whitaker

Sean Marsh 1-0 John Garnett

Julian Allinson 1-0 David Baillie (After replay; first game drawn)

Paul Weightman 0-1 Andrew Smith

Kevin Waterman 0-1 Richard Harris

Bernie Price 1-0 Sean Cassidy

Second Round

Julian Allinson vs. Dave Edmunds

Peter Harker 0-1 Matthew Jackman

Andrew Smith vs. Bernie Price

Richard Harris 0-1 Sean Marsh

More Project 30 events will be announced soon...

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.
The finale for 2017 featured an extraordinary triple-bill of Carol Decker...

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

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