Completed CSC Courses



Since we first started running training courses at Olympia in 2010 we have run many events:


  • 9 Olympia courses

  • 9 Out of London

  • 5 Within London

  • 2 Association of Teachers and Lecturers

  • 2 EEF Conference courses


Of these,


  • 20 were for teaching chess in primary school - no chess knowledge assumed

  • 2 were for tutors only (which teachers attended)

  • 1 was for volunteers at library

  • 2 were for Association of Teachers and Lecturers

  • 2 were for chess tutors and professionals


CSC has trained over 500 people in how to teach chess.



These courses have now taken place:


Liverpool - 30 April 2014 [report]

Sheffield - 29 April 2014 [report]

Teesside - Easter 2014 [report]

EEF Conf. (Birmingham) - Feb 2014 [report]

Teesside - October 2013 [report]

London (Stratford) - 24 Sep 2013

London (Islington) - 25 Sep 2013

Liverpool - 8 Oct 2013

Middlesbrough - 9 Oct 2013

Manchester - 15 Oct 2013

Sheffield - 16 Oct 2013

Leeds - 22 Oct 2013

Bristol - 23 Oct 2013

London (Olympia) - 11/12/13 Dec 2013

Newham (Stratford Lib) - July 2013 [report]

Liverpool - July 2013 [report]

Birmingham - June 2013 [report]



London (Islington) - June 2013 [report]

Bristol - June 2013 [report]

London (Newham) - May 2013 [report]

London Course - March 2013 [report]

Manchester - March 2013 [report]

London Classic - December 2012 [report]

Leeds Course - 10th Oct 2012 [report]

London Course - 26th Sept 2012 [report]

Teesside Training Course - 27th June 2012 [report]

London Training Course - 23rd March 2012

Bristol Training Course - 14th March 2012 [report]

Nottingham Course - 1st February 2012 [report]

Olympia London Skills Development - 6th Dec 2011

Olympia London Introductory Course - 5th Dec 2011

Manchester - 22nd September 2011 [report]

Middlesbrough City Learning Centre on 29th June 2011

Olympia London Introductory Course - 22nd June 2011




Liverpool Training Course

30 April 2014


Of all the great primary schools in Liverpool, the Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School stands out for its dedication to chess. As one walks through the corridors there are posters about chess and a tremendous enthusiasm for the game from the headteacher Charles Daniels.



Malcolm Pein and John Foley visited the school to deliver the training course. There were half a dozen participants. Half were from Liverpool and the other half, from Manchester.


Julian Clissold, a member of the English Chess Federation Board and a stalwart of junior chess, attended and we benefited from his wisdom. Stephen Kee is a music teacher who is also now a CSC chess tutor. We discussed the parallels between learning chess and music.


Steve Connor, the CSC webmaster also attended at the beginning to take some photographs.


One participant explained that he had been diagnosed as having a learning difficulty and had been advised that he may never be able to find a job. However, he had discovered chess at primary school and liked it. Although not a strong chess player, he is now a chess assistant. We often say that chess can provide something extra for children with special educational needs and here is a concrete example which extends into the working age.


- John Foley


Sheffield Training 2014

29 Apr 2014


Twelve participants gathered at the Law School at Sheffield University for an introductory course on teaching chess in primary schools.



Sheffield University has been very active in promoting chess in local schools, both primary and secondary.


The delegates included local primary school teachers and no fewer than three PhDs. Chris Kirkland was master of ceremonies and has now attended five CSC courses.


He justifies this loyal commitment by the observation that no two courses are the same. Unusually there was only one woman present at the course. The course was enjoyed by all according to subsequent comments.











Teesside Training (Easter) 2014

5 Apr 2014


CSC Training Director John Foley (centre) with the course delegates  

The previous update covered the start of our new working relationship with Barclaycard.



The volunteer scheme, which sees Barclaycard volunteers helping with the curriculum sessions at our Teesside schools, has got off to a flying start. The children are enjoying meeting - and challenging! - the volunteers and the project has added an extra dimension to our sessions.


This week brought another training day at the Teesside Barclaycard offices, with John Foley preparing two new groups of volunteers for their challenging times ahead.




Chess has never tastier!

Our schools have signed up for the online Yes2Chess community and the children are looking forward to competing against junior players from a number of different countries.


Meanwhile, it seems that the Teesside Barclaycard offices have gone chess crazy. The CSC sent them some extra chess sets and games have been breaking out all over the place. There was even a chess cake on the go (long gone by the time we got there, of course...)


Read more ...


- Sean Marsh



CSC EEF Conference - Held at Hillscourt Hotel and Conference Centre, Birmingham.



Building on the success of our Daventry event (October 2013), Chess in Schools and Communities hosted a second conference for chess tutors. This took place in Rednal, Birmingham, on Wednesday February 19th, 2014.


The conference had two primary aims:



To discuss Chess in Schools and Communities’ latest developments, and the EEF and Yes2Chess projects in particular.



To examine ways of enhancing our delivery, by discussing best practice and ‘improving teaching skills’.


  Download conference report in full



Teesside Training Course

9 Oct 2013


We were delighted to welcome back John Foley for the third CSC Teesside training day.



The venue was the Middlesbrough Community Learning centre, who provided wonderful facilities and as much tea and coffee as we could drink.



12 people enrolled on the course, including teachers, TAs and strong chess players. We split them into four groups and then it was over to John to reveal some of the secrets of teaching chess. John highlighted several key areas of the CSC curriculum and invited input from the four groups at various junctures. This generated several sessions of valuable group discussion and a fruitful exchange of ideas.


Following a break for lunch, we resumed refreshed and ready for an afternoon of challenges. John impressed and amused us all with his fine selection of problems (not just chess, but encompassing the art of logical thinking also).


A good time was had by all. We even caught two teachers indulging in a game of chess at one point, which gave me the idea of organising a Teesside Teachers' Championship. Maybe one day...


Thank you to everyone who made the day such a success and especially to John for delivering another excellent and instructive day of CSC training.


- Sean Marsh




Newham Course (Stratford Library): An Introduction to Teaching Chess

11 July 2013


Newham is a flagship London borough for Chess is Schools and Communities; this was the third training course in the borough and the second in Stratford Library. We had a dozen participants which is an ideal number for training: three tables of four. As usual there was a wide mix of backgrounds.



Some teachers attended who are going to be involved in the Educational Endowment Federation project from September and wanted to better understand how the chess in schools scheme works in the classroom. Several participants were parents who either run or assist in the running of school chess clubs. We had a woman master originally from Lithuania who had been trained by the strict Soviet method in a specialist sports school. We also had some established chess tutors and a chess writer and presenter.


The course included the “corner attack puzzle” for the first time, which proved to be successful with the participants. One topic discussed was the scope of the touch-move rule. It is not unusual in children’s chess to touch a piece with another piece in one’s hand rather than with a finger. The matter will be followed up.


Malcolm Pein and Matt Lunn attended from the office and, amongst other things, arranged a very pleasant lunch at the small café next door where we were able to sit outside during the hot weather. The day also coincided with the first Ashes Test match in which the Australian last man set a world record.


At the end of the course, Alan Bright and John Foley stayed behind to support local volunteer John Illingworth in giving some training at the chess club which meets in the library every Thursday evening from 5pm. When the club started in March, CSC ran a training course for the volunteers. The club has grown impressively in numbers to around 40 people attending, of all ages, ethnicities and walks of life. It is fantastic to see how a library has become the centre of chess activities in a neighbourhood.


- John Foley


Liverpool Course: An Introduction to Teaching Chess

3 July 2013



This was the first CSC training course held in Liverpool and overdue given the intense level of chess activity on Merseyside.


The course was held at the Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School for which we are very grateful to the headteacher Charles Daniels.


There was a full house again with 24 people attending, most of whom were teachers and so this course focused on how to convey chess concepts rather than the processes of teaching. In addition, visitors to the course included Steve Connor, CSC webmaster, and Luke Boumphrey and Natasha May who teach Merseyside Juniors at Sacred Heart as an after-school club. Also in attendance was John Smallthwaite, a local chess player, who has started to teach chess in schools.


No two courses are the same. This one benefited from the opportunity to observe John Gorman, the inspirational CSC tutor, give a lesson to an advanced group of Year 6 pupils on the Pelikan variation of the Sicilian Defence. Everybody who saw it was impressed with how John conveyed the principles of the opening and how the children loved to learn.


The presentation material on the course included some animation of chess techniques – e.g. how to checkmate with a king and rook against a lone king and how to complete a knights tour. In spite of the hard work required to do the chess exercises, the attendees derived considerable satisfaction from the insights gained. Liverpool is going to be one of the cities included in the major forthcoming study into chess in schools conducted by the Institute of Education and funded by the Educational Endowment Foundation.


- John Foley


Birmingham Course: An Introduction to Teaching Chess

26 June 2013



This was the first time that the CSC training roadshow had rolled into Birmingham and was duly welcomed by chess enthusiasts in our second city. A dozen participants (plus visitors) gathered at the Research Park at the University.



We thank the local Birmingham chess organiser for finding the excellent venue. Attendees also came from other cities around the Midlands including Worcester, Leicester and Coventry. They included teachers, teaching assistants and chess tutors.


One attendee was a junior Vietnamese chess international. Another was a consultant rheumatologist who wished to introduce chess to his child’s school. Martina Flint, based in York, a qualified chess coach from Germany, described some activities adopted used in German schools which we will consider carefully. One attendee was planning to use chess with people with learning difficulties. Michele Clack runs a chess club for young children. The respected chess coach Malcolm Hunt also dropped by.


The course was well received, as measured by our latest innovation – an online feedback form. One subject that engaged the group was the role of draughts as a precursor to chess and as an alternative game for children who are not ready to take on chess activity.


- John Foley


London (Islington) Course: An Introduction to Teaching Chess

19 June 2013



We are grateful to City Year London from providing us with the venue for the fourth time. They are a charity which promotes education through providing dynamic young graduates into schools.


The standard of the course was very high befitting the level of expertise of the participants. It was probably the first training course where the discussants who presented their summaries were applauded for the quality of their analysis. Even the trainer, who is not usually short of things to say, did not feel the need to supplement the responses.



One new mini-game was tried out on the course “Forks and Skewers” which was enjoyed by the participants. This involves a match between two rooks and two bishops – a suggestion from Tim Kett of Cardiff.


Overall the feedback on the course was extremely positive. Nevil Chan, the CSC national co-ordinator, went into adjective overdrive describing the course implementation as “probably the best ever”. As usual, there was a wide range of abilities within the 26 attendees ranging from a parent who knew only the basic moves to an International Master from Hungary. Tim Woolgar who runs the Chessboxing charity was there. Longer distance attendees were from Durham and the Isle of Wight. Also present were two observers from the University of London Institute of Education who are involved in the research into the effect of chess on education.


The CSC courses are more frequent and have never been so full. This was the 14th course this academic year. The cap on participation has been raised and more courses are being planned to respond to the demand.


- John Foley


Bristol Course: An Introduction to Teaching Chess

5 June 2013



This was the second time that the Teaching Chess in Primary Schools was held in Bristol. It was the most well attended training course ever with 26 participants. People came not only from Bristol and surrounds but also from Chepstow, Cardiff and Cornwall. For the first time, a community group for the homeless attended. Many homeless people are good chess players. One reason for this is that many of them spent time in prison where they learned to play.



The event was organised locally by Robert Chandler who is CSC’s co-ordinator in Bristol. Robert was fresh from the Bristol ChessFest which brought together many of the junior chess players in the area.


As usual there was a wide mix of chess playing ability ranging from those who barely knew the moves to the Polish women’s blitz champion.


Given that the programme has been running for a couple of years now in Bristol, we are beginning to see a new reason for attending the course – pester power.


It seems that many parents are being asked by their children if they could play chess at school. Consequently, the course contained many parents who wanted to help out in schools.


Andrew Farthing, the new CSC trustee, was an active participant. He was formerly the CEO of the English Chess Federation.


John Foley, the course trainer, runs the presentation from an iPad using Keynote with external mini-speakers for the video sound. The course presentation looked fresh with a new design template for the slides.


The CSC course has become more a roadshow with Malcolm Pein and Nevil Chan also in attendance busily signing up chess tutors for the local primary schools.


First photo: Katarzyna Jurkiewicz tells them how its done.

Second photo: Andrew Farthing (yellow shirt) paying close attention


- John Foley


London (Newham) Course: An Introduction to Teaching Chess

1 May 2013



This was the first over-subscribed course and we had to turn down some applicants. Even though some people dropped out on the day there were still 23 people who attended the event at Newham Dockside. The venue was provided courtesy of the London Borough of Newham which has decided to integrate chess into the curriculum of all 64 primary schools in the Borough.



The venue was right in the heart of the Council headquarters in their splendid modern building on the dockside. It is very close to London City Airport - and could even be mistaken for the terminal building - although most people came via the Docklands Light Railway.


Those attending were very focused on how to deliver chess and in understanding the benefits it can bring. As usual, there was some new material on the course the most important of which was a discussion about the recent trial in Italy in which chess at school was found to improve performance in mathematics. This was the most scientific study so far and an inspiration for the forthcoming research into the impact of chess in English schools which is being funded by the Education Endowment Foundation.


There were two videos shown at the course. One of these had been recorded for the Newham Project and depicted interviews with local school children, head teachers and chess tutors. There is an air of expectation surrounding the project and a determination that it should succeed.


Those attending the course possessed considerable experience from having been teaching chess in school, after school clubs or in the community. One attended from Lithuania had graduated from the chess in schools teaching programme in his own country. It was pointed out that the CSC course and syllabus is unique in having been developed on the basis of experience gained in English junior and school chess clubs. The aim has always been to make the material relevant in the British educational context with the emphasis being on the development of thinking skills rather than to produce grandmasters.


- John Foley


London Course: An Introduction to Teaching Chess in Primary Schools

20 March 2013



The largest ever CSC training course took place on Wednesday 20th March 2013 in Islington, London with 28 people attending John Foley’s training course. We are grateful to City Year London for the use of their premises – CSC have now held three courses there. Tereza Pribanova from the CSC team managed the course reception desk. This was the first public course since the London Chess Classic at Olympia in December and demand for training had built up. In the meantime, there was a course at Stratford Library on 14th March – coinciding with the launch of the Newham Project - but this was restricted to local volunteers and was not specifically targeted to primary school pupils.


The attendees constituted probably the strongest ever group of people on the course with prior experience of teaching chess and many were looking to join the CSC scheme. Malcolm Pein and Nevil Chan were in attendance in order to discuss with individuals how to take matters forward. People came not only from London but also from further afield including Essex, Northamptonshire and Nottingham. There was a mathematics teacher from a secondary school who had introduced chess to her school. Lawrence Trent, International Master, attended the course before leaving to provide the official live commentary on the World Chess Championships candidates matches which were being held in London.


In a tightly structured day, we covered a huge amount of ground from chess teaching principles to forms of best practice to a range of exercises, minigames and chess activities. The course continues to evolve and was enhanced by the introduction of two short videos – one about CSC which was produced at the London Chess Classic by Macauley Peterson, the American chess journalist and film maker and one about the Newham Project.


The high point of the day was when Malcolm Pein, who is Chief Executive of the Charity, announced that the charity had been awarded a substantial sum by the Education Endowment Foundation in order to investigate the effect of teaching chess on the school performance of children. The £689,000 grant will encourage everybody involved with the chess in schools project and ensure that we properly understand the benefits of chess. The money will be spent on expanding the CSC reach into another 100 schools in the research study.


After this good news, everybody felt even more energised in their mission to bring the wonderful game of chess to the children.


- John Foley


Manchester Teacher Training Course

7th Mar 2013


The course, the second held in Manchester comprised a dozen participants most of whom were chess tutors including David Hardy, the CSC co-ordinator in Manchester.


Malcolm Pein gave an overview of CSC and explained its expansion plans. Nevil Chan advised individuals on the potential opportunities within schools. The event took place in the splendid Italian Restaurant San Rocco which is converted from a school. The excellent lunch was appreciated by all.


The emphasis of the course was on teaching skills rather than chess exercises. Several interesting topics were covered in the discussions. The way that chess reaches children of all abilities was emphasised as a major advantage. Some non-sporting children find that chess is the only activity in which they feel they can participate with others on equal terms. It was pointed out that chess provides the opportunity for a developmental approach: although it is conventional to pair children of a similar competitive level, they can develop nurturing skills if they can teach others whose level is lower.


We showed the new CSC video which interviews professional chess players, teachers and children on the subject of chess in schools. This is an excellent video which shows the progress that CSC is making in communicating its message.


Leeds Teacher Training Course

10th Oct 2012


On 10th October a Chess in Schools training course took place at Bramley St Peters primary school in Leeds. This was the first time the course had taken place in Leeds and the first time in a primary school. The facilities were excellent with a specially dedicated training room with a projector onto a whiteboard. Whilst some of those attending were local, others travelled from further afield including Durham, Sheffield and Batley.


There was the usual wide mix of attendees from expert chess players to those who had only just learned the moves. However, everybody was able to participate fully in the course. Judging by the laughter throughout the day, it appears to have been an enjoyable event.


Some of the participants worked at a Pupil Referral Unit where we heard that chess is beginning to make a positive impact.


A notable occurrence during the day was the arrival of the local Member of Parliament for Leeds West, Rachel Reeves. Rachel listened in to John Foley’s talk on etiquette in chess and how to apply the controversial “touch-move” rule. She then went on to give a chess lesson to a group of enthusiastic children followed by a simultaneous display. Those present noticed the natural warmth with which she dealt with children. She recently announced she is to be a mother for the first time. Rachel Reeves is a big supporter of chess in schools and we were grateful for her attendance at this event. The Yorkshire Post also covered the story.


David Eggleston makes IM

Congratulations to David Eggleston, our tutor at Castleside Primary School and Consett Junior School in County Durham, for achieving the International Master title.


He crossed the 2400 rating threshold at the 17th Bavarian International Open Chess Championship. He is currently on 4/4, having beaten Grandmaster Aleksandar Delchev - rated 2643 - in the fourth round.








London Course

26 Sept 2012


We held two courses at the premises of City Year London in Islington. The first course was for 28 of their volunteers and the other was for CSC teachers and tutors.


City Year London comprises young people between 18 and 25 on a gap year who go into inner city schools to lead activities which stretch the minds and ambitions of the children. It is encouraging that they see chess as a suitable activity to include within their volunteer training programme.


The second course was for 20 teachers and chess tutors. We had primary school as well as secondary school teachers. There is now more interest from secondary schools in introducing chess programmes. We also had participants from private schools. The attendees represented the full range of chess abilities from those who had never played at all to an international master from Turkey.




There was a Hackney borough councillor who is an enthusiastic proponent of the benefits of chess. Other attendees included people reaching retirement who wanted to volunteer to teach in schools. There was a lively debate on the advantages of teaching chess as part of the weekly curriculum and contrasting that with teaching in a lunchtime or pre- or after-school chess club.


It was agreed that the ideal arrangement is to have a school chess club following on from a chess lesson so that those who were keen could continue to practice. As usual, the courses were presented with customary wit and erudition by John Foley, with Nevil Chan ensuring that everything ran smoothly.





Teesside Course

27 June 2012


John Foley came up from London to run another excellent training day at the Middlesbrough City Learning Centre.


The venue was perfect for such a day with very friendly and highly efficient staff plus an excellent buffet lunch (during which the laws of 'touch move' and 'touch take' were strictly observed).


We had a fabulous blend of people on the course. Teachers and TAs mixed in with strong (in some cases, titled) chess players for a day of instruction and fun. The role-playing re-enactments of castling, pinning and back-rank checkmate were particular highlights.


- Sean Marsh






Bristol Training Course

14 March 2012

A training course for teaching chess in primary schools was given at Bristol by John Foley. The 17 attendees had an enjoyable day in the fine premises of the Bristol Conference Centre in Shirehampton. The attendees comprised teachers, classroom assistants, a special needs instructor, a parent and a chess tutor attending for the second time. There was also a teacher of the deaf accompanied by his sign language translators. Amongst the comments from the attendees:




“Informative session on why chess is very important to the school curriculum.”


“Pacey delivery with humour.”


“Plenty of ideas.”


“Networking with other schools was useful.”


“Role-play” helps understanding things like pins, skewer and castling.”


Malcolm Pein, the Chief Executive of CSC, along with Robert Chandler, the CSC Bristol project organiser, had a full programme of activities on the same day including meetings with Bristol Council who are very supportive, an interview on BBC Radio Bristol, simultaneous displays in two schools and a visit to Clifton College, a centre of excellence for junior chess. Chess is alive and well in Bristol. 





King, bishop and knight


Practising chess variant


Theory training session


Robert Chandler has an idea!



Nottingham Teacher Training Course


A training day for chess tutors and teachers took place at Nottingham University on 1st February 2012. The event arose as a result of an initiative by the University chess club to promote chess in local schools.


Club president Eldar Nagijew and co-ordinator James Byrne organised the training event and invited local teachers and head teachers who obtained a good overview of what is involved in teaching chess in primary schools. Schools represented included Radford, Dunkirk, Netherfield and Higham on the Hill. David Bevan from Nottinghamshire junior chess was also in attendance.


According to James, everyone enjoyed their time and found it very interesting. Nottingham hopes to run the event again.





Manchester Teacher Training Course


22 Sept 11 - There was a big turnout for the course for school teachers and teaching assistants at Hyde in Manchester on 22 September given by John Foley, the CSC course director. David Hardy, the local CSC chess tutor organised the event and welcomed over twenty participants. We spent an intensive day learning how chess can be made exciting for primary school children.


The course started by confirming the benefits of chess for developing thinking skills such as concentration and analysis. Links to the school curriculum were identified. The 15% improvement in academic performance associated with playing chess in schools was noted. The structured course then proceeded at a fast pace with an emphasis on practical classroom exercises. The basic principles of teaching chess were communicated in a lively way using a chess demonstration board, a flipchart and a projector.


The attendees tried out instructional chess variants such as mini-games which gradually lead children up to the orthodox form of chess and beyond. They learned the distinction between material and spatial concepts in child development psychology. They explored the use of coloured blocks to illustrate which squares are attacked and also to depict the fascinating geometrical contours generated by individual pieces. Much fun was had acting out fundamental concepts such as checkmate – an exercise always popular with children. The CSC primary school curriculum was explained. The social aspects of chess were emphasised with sessions on the touch move rule and chess etiquette. By the end of the course, some participants were avidly playing exchange chess which is popular in junior chess. Course handouts included the curriculum and the teacher’s guide.


The participating schools included: St. George's CE Primary School, Holden Clough Primary School, St. Francis Xavier's College, St. George's CE Primary School, Millbrook School, Greenside Primary School, Holy Trinity CE Dobcross, Waterloo Primary School, Hey with Zion Primary, Stalyhill Junior School and St Peters RC HS.


We hope more schools can attend next time for this well-received course.




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