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Spring Term Brightens Up Dreary Days, Delancy UKCC, & A Glimpse Of What Our Juniors Have Been Up to!

written, photos, & video by Melinda Wilde

Happy New Year to everyone coming back, or just joining us in the club! We are two weeks into our spring term, and although it still feels as cold as can be, the days are getting brighter and the birds are starting to sing the songs of spring! We are all feeling a bit brighter now with the expansion of the club. Our club has added an additional room in the Hythe to separate beginners from more advanced players. The hope is to allow players to focus more with less distractions and dedicated time for the level specific lessons. We hope this new set-up will allow us to deliver an even better experience for your chess junior to learn, play, and ask questions if they need help. We are seeing the improvement already, and the overall feedback from our juniors has been positive.

We'd like to welcome our newest members to the club. A very warm welcome to Leo, Abel, Rosie, Tobi, Ori, & Gabriel! We are so happy to have all of you in our club.

Our club is excited to participate in the largest UK junior chess competition, the Delancy UK Chess Challenge! This is the perfect introduction to tournament play for our beginners and also for the more advanced players. There are seven rounds in the first level, and every player has the opportunity to win prizes along the way. This round is played in our club and played against club members in their level/age groups. You may have noticed that many of our juniors came home with a button last week. Please remind them to wear it each week, as they will receive golden stickers for successful wins in the tournament. Players will also gain points just for participating! This is about the experience and to show the importance of each game, and the quality of the game is what is truly important! The tournament gets progressively more challenging until the Terafinals, and will include the UK's most elite players. Here's a breakdown of the different levels in the competition...

Stage 1) Preliminary - Schools & Club Stage

Stage 2) Megafinals (quarterfinals)

Stage 3) Gigafinals (semifinals)

Stage 4) Terafinal (final)

There are five age-group sections (under 8s, under 10s, under 12s, under 14s, under 18s). Players compete within their age group at every stage of the competition, apart from the first round in our club, where the levels play each other. However, age is considered in moving to the Megafinals.

Beginners Group Photos

Beginners Sessions

Our beginners have been hard at work, settling in, and learning lots about the basics in chess. In recent weeks, they have learned about chess notation and king and queen checkmates. Chess notation, or the most commonly used algebraic notation, is a simplified way to write down the movements of a chess game. It uses a letter and special symbols to show what moves are made in the game. Chess players can look at the games they played because of the notes they took. Learning how to write notations during chess games takes practice, just like learning to write sentences, but it is an important (and sometimes frustrating) skill for every chess player to develop!

Check out this video from all about chess notation

Intermediate/Advanced Group Photos

Intermediate/Advanced Sessions

Our intermediate/advanced players have started in their cosy new space. They have been continuing in their group competitions, including the Delancy Tournament, and working on mixed endgame puzzles. Chess puzzles are important for tactical development. That being said, puzzles are most effective when real thought goes into the solution, and to stop after about five incorrect answers if working in Lichess. Otherwise, continuing to try to solve puzzles and getting many wrong will not effectively teach the player the tactics. It's more about quality and not quantity! It is best to take time with the puzzles, review the solution afterwards, and understand the correct answer. Also, setting up a puzzle on a chess board is a fantastic way to slow down and turn off the instant solutions that a computer provides. Checking it afterwards on a computer is a great way to further enforce what was learned! There are loads of chess puzzle books available that Michael would be happy to recommend, or countless free puzzles to solve on the internet.

Enjoy a video of our intermediate and advanced players working on endgame puzzles

Congratulations to our club members who participated in the London Junior Chess Championship, which was held this year online due to Covid precautions. This was a challenging competition, and just to qualify was an accomplishment. All players did their best, and we're so proud of all their efforts. Well done to all, and especially to Ruqayyah Rida, who came 4th in the U12 Major Zoom Finals!

We'd also like to take a moment to ask you as parents/supporters to review our 'Rules and Policies' page with your club member. Most of the behaviour in the club is impeccable, but with the return of the new term, we think all members can do with a refresh and reminder of the rules and what is expected of them during the club sessions. We are happy to answer any questions or concerns that may be asked after review of the policy. Please contact us at at any time.

Has your Colchester Junior had an outstanding chess achievement that you'd like to share? It can be an achievement of any size, such as practising puzzles, reaching target goals, trying online tournaments to support the club, or even beating mum at chess! Snap a photo of your junior in a great moment of chess! Please share your club members' chess success, no matter how big or small, and a photo of your player to with 'chess success' as the subject.

Well, that's a lot of excellent news and a great start to the new year. Thanks to all the parents and supporters of the club. J4NCL and 4NCL will be starting soon, so keep an eye out for the results blog. See you again in a couple of weeks with more club news and photos :)

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