Sunday, 23 July 2017


Sit down. We need to talk.

Suddenly we are at the end of the third and final term of the 2016-7 school year. All of the hopes and the fears for the year have been tied up, like so many plot lines, and then everyone will now move on, ever-upwards through the system, until they reach their ultimate destination.

Teachers celebrate the end of the school year for a variety of different reasons: job well done; crowd controlled; a well-earned rest ahead; a new school year on the way. Clean slate; clean SMART board. Yet for me the final half-term of any school year is always my least favourite.

We achieved a lot during my 29th year in schools. We broke all records for attendance in all of our main tournaments, brought more schools on board, pioneered more brand new ideas - including training days for parents - and attracted considerable publicity along the way, culminating in a special feature on ITV's Tyne Tees News.

The story may remain the same, but we use moving pictures and colour these days.

Press shot - 1988
Screen shot - 2017
And yet...I wanted to achieve more. Time - the great essential, which we should try never to lose - once again pulled the rug from under our feet, leaving some plans frustratingly short of fruition. It seems like no time at all since the 2015-6 school year drew to a close.

We build things up and time relentlessly tears them down. It bothers me. I always end up feeling I am just the other side of fulfilment.

There are times when I am tempted to tell the full story of my 29 years and to record my exact thoughts regarding people, places and events. Yet each time the notion surfaces it is tempered by the wise words of Edgar Allen Poe:

'If any ambitious man have a fancy a revolutionize, at one effort, the universal world of human thought, human opinion, and human sentiment, the opportunity is his own – the road to immortal renown lies straight, open, and unencumbered before him. All that he has to do is to write and publish a very little book. Its title should be simple–a few plain words –"My Heart Laid Bare." But – this little book must be true to its title.'


'But to write it – there is the rub. No man dare write it. No man ever will dare write it. No man could write it, even if he dared. The paper would shrivel and blaze at every touch of the fiery pen.'

I understand the task must wait a little longer.

There have been many huge changes in schools over the three decades and the wider world has hardly escaped unscathed. Governments and systems of belief have come and gone (none of those ever interested me anyway), as have many people who were and are dear to me. Virtually everyone seems to take offence at virtually everything. All these years on from the 1980s and anger is still an energy - but it is allowed burn itself away on trivial matters.

I feel the need to work harder as I grow older and to create more events, reach more people and achieve more than any given previous year.

To that end I would like to announce I am working on a series of special events to celebrate what will be my 30th year when the schools return to action in September.  

The following are currently in the planning stages (other ideas are also in the mix):

New tournaments

Special chess events featuring guest stars

Special events featuring inspirational people

Reconnections with former team mates and colleagues

A series of matches against old friends

An end of year celebratory event

We've done it before, you know...and we still have some jokes left over
In the words of Claude Cahun:

'Under this mask, another mask.
I will never finish removing all these faces.'

Further details will follow in due course...