WHERE IN THE UK TO PLAY CHESS?

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Peter Webber
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WHERE IN THE UK TO PLAY CHESS?

Post by Peter Webber » Tue Sep 01, 2015 8:30 pm

I spend many hours every week studying by reading chess books, playing through master games, trying to solve tactical puzzles, mates in three etc. I enjoy this. But I know it's not doing me any good, as I cannot expect to improve if I have nobody to play against across a board. I went along to my local (ECF) club many months ago, which consisted basically of a small group of diehards who each were hundreds of rating points better than myself, and the only words in their vocabularies seemed to be trophies, tournaments, championships etc. No other members seemed to exist who like me would be content to play casual games for fun, with a view to obtaining a lasting improvement and hopefully one day being of a good enough standard to join the others in their beloved county matches. I also got the impression that most other clubs are like this nowadays. To get around this, I set up a group within a leisure organisation to play chess on a less serious basis, I started off losing games, then, when I began to get better and win regularly - guess what - all the other members left as nobody wanted to play me!
I apologise to those with a long memory who may remember my previous posting in a similar vein, but I find it incredulous that in a sport which supposedly has the third most members in the world (after the Olympic Association and FIFA comes FIDE) there seems to be nowhere I can find an opponent. Yes, I know there is the Internet, but to obtain lasting benefits, I believe there is no substitute to sitting down and analysing face to face with another (hopefully, within 200 rating points!) player to each other's mutual benefit.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: WHERE IN THE UK TO PLAY CHESS?

Post by Roger de Coverly » Tue Sep 01, 2015 9:42 pm

Peter Webber wrote:But I know it's not doing me any good, as I cannot expect to improve if I have nobody to play against across a board.
There's a tournament somewhere in the UK virtually every weekend. That would seem an obvious starting point and the calendar on the ECF's site gives details. It depends where you come from, but I wouldn't say the standard at the bottom is terribly high. It does however involve attempting to play properly, in other words not moving pieces to squares where they can just be taken. So there's a certain minimum standard there, also involving some understanding of how to play sensibly at the start of the game. If it's a tournament local to you, you will also get to meet some of the local players.

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Jon Mahony
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Re: WHERE IN THE UK TO PLAY CHESS?

Post by Jon Mahony » Tue Sep 01, 2015 10:21 pm

I would say even in a minor tournament, people who just play for fun in the lunch hour or whatever, are going to get tanked - a 70 grade club player is usually a lot better than someone who does not play for a club.

Minimum standard is another matter - we had a player in Leeds cc a few years back who's favorite opening as white was 1.d3 - I tended to answer with 1...d5 and then 2.d4.... hmmmm time to play a colle-zuke and ignore the fact I'm black :roll: He still played matches regularly though, but never went to a congress.

In clubs around here at least, most have more players that are sub 100 grade, than 190 strength county players, so in theory it shouldn't be that hard to find a club with realistic competition. If you want to break into competitive chess, I think it's a matter of biting the buttet, turning up somewhere and getting beat a lot until you get better :D
"When you see a good move, look for a better one!" - Lasker

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Collin Smith
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Re: WHERE IN THE UK TO PLAY CHESS?

Post by Collin Smith » Sat Sep 05, 2015 7:27 pm

Peter, I'm afraid the ONLY way you're going to improve is to play games, get beat, (many times) and ask your opponent afterwards where you went wrong. You'll find most players will gladly point out your errors.

In all honesty, I don't think it would take very long to reach lower (and a competitive) club standard.
If you can't get your opponents to analyse with you try another more approachable club, but ultimately its down to you. :-)

David Blower
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Re: WHERE IN THE UK TO PLAY CHESS?

Post by David Blower » Sun Sep 06, 2015 1:30 am

Peter if you have notated some previous games, why not post one on the forum, because I am sure some members would be happy to give you some analysis of the game.

Paul Bielby
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Re: WHERE IN THE UK TO PLAY CHESS?

Post by Paul Bielby » Wed Sep 09, 2015 11:54 am

At the Northumberland County Congress (North Shields, 25-27th September) they include a FOUNDATION TOURNAMENT for ungraded and players <100. This consists of 10 games, 2 each against each of 5 opponents played with all moves to be made in 1 hour (Thus qualifying for grading). Each pair of games runs parallel with the full length games in the other sections. This gives a beginner a good way to start out on a tournament career and to see how the players cope with the full length (4 hour) games in the Open, Major and Minor Tournaments. And it gives a beginner a grading in the January list if he completes all 10 games.

I don't know if any other congresses run anything similar, but it might make an excellent introduction to competitive chess for a would-be player in Peter's position.

Incidentally the Open section of the congress is once again FIDE rated following the successful introduction of the idea last year.

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Michael Farthing
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Re: WHERE IN THE UK TO PLAY CHESS?

Post by Michael Farthing » Wed Sep 09, 2015 5:10 pm

Leyland has a similar section

Edit: I meant Heywood.

A number of congresses have an u110 section

David Blower
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Re: WHERE IN THE UK TO PLAY CHESS?

Post by David Blower » Wed Sep 09, 2015 5:37 pm

Oh good, perhaps I can enter the under 110 section!

The thing is, even a player graded 100 is of a good enough standard that games are rarely lost by simply blundering pieces (yes it does happen occassionally, and more often than a player graded 150 or something.)

But it is not something that you should expect to win a game by.

As Roger says, the standard is not terribly high, but most games are won by some sort of tactic that has been missed (i.e. forks, pins and skewers.)

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Peter D Williams
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Re: WHERE IN THE UK TO PLAY CHESS?

Post by Peter D Williams » Thu Sep 10, 2015 3:54 pm

The best place i ever found to play chess was at Coulsdon chess club you could play casual games with members who where very willing to try and help you improve your chess. You could also play all sorts of rated games/ events as well.What i liked about the club was that all standards where welcome. Scott and Daniel who run most of the events at Coulsdon would do everything possible to welcome you to the club. The club meets on a Monday night so if you able i would go and see for your self how good a chess club it is. You can also just go and watch others play chess have a chat /coffee etc
when you are successful many losers bark at you.

David Blower
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Re: WHERE IN THE UK TO PLAY CHESS?

Post by David Blower » Sun Sep 13, 2015 4:16 pm

But if you don't live anywhere near Coulsdon I'm sure there would be a nearer chess club to you.

Peter Webber
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Re: WHERE IN THE UK TO PLAY CHESS?

Post by Peter Webber » Tue Sep 29, 2015 5:38 pm

Well, I've been going along to a club for 3 weeks now, and managed wins against a '90's' rated player, and also against a 132!!( which I regard as the equivalent of a 100-1 outsider winning the Derby). The inevitable many losses predominate though. I need to improve, and improve fast, as I am not yet happy enough with my standard of play to think about entering any competitions. Could anybody recommend Chess Mentor or any other package as a fast-track route to progress, please?

Michael Flatt
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Re: WHERE IN THE UK TO PLAY CHESS?

Post by Michael Flatt » Tue Sep 29, 2015 5:49 pm

Peter Webber wrote:Could anybody recommend Chess Mentor or any other package as a fast-track route to progress, please?
There is no fast track. You have to be realistic in assessing where you are and what you want to achieve. Playing regularly with those a little better than yourself and devoting a small amount of regular study to what you see as your greatest weakness is the best advice.

Online videos from Andrew Martin and the St Louis Scholastic and Chess Center are worth taking a look at. Everyone has their own preferred learning style so no one size fits all. There is a whole industry devoted to helping you become a better chess player.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: WHERE IN THE UK TO PLAY CHESS?

Post by Roger de Coverly » Tue Sep 29, 2015 6:23 pm

Peter Webber wrote: as I am not yet happy enough with my standard of play to think about entering any competitions.
Opens are perhaps not to be recommended, but tournaments usually have under 100 sections.

Jonathan Bryant
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Re: WHERE IN THE UK TO PLAY CHESS?

Post by Jonathan Bryant » Tue Sep 29, 2015 8:34 pm

Congratulations on your wins. I wouldn’t rule out entering tournaments, though. Roger’s quite right on that. You wouldn’t be the worst player at Adam Raoof’s Golders Green tournaments, for instance.

As for this
Peter Webber wrote: Could anybody recommend Chess Mentor or any other package as a fast-track route to progress, please?
There is no "fast-track route to progress" I’m afraid.

You need to play a lot and then reflect on your games and then do it again and again and again.

Brian Towers
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Re: WHERE IN THE UK TO PLAY CHESS?

Post by Brian Towers » Wed Sep 30, 2015 6:17 pm

Peter Webber wrote:I am not yet happy enough with my standard of play to think about entering any competitions.
Peter Webber wrote:Could anybody recommend Chess Mentor or any other package as a fast-track route to progress, please?
These are two contradictory ambitions.

The fast track to progress lies in playing as much competitive chess as you can, preferably against stronger opposition as you will learn a lot more by losing to stronger players than you ever will by beating up weaker ones.

You should keep a record of your losses (which you will do automatically in a competitive game) and go over the games with a stronger player (which may be a computer program) to show you where both you and your opponent went wrong. Having beaten you, your opponent must have made fewer serious errors than you, but he will almost certainly have made some and it will help you the next time you play him to see what these were.
Ah, but I was so much older then. I'm younger than that now.

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