Tips & Advice

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Tips to become a good chess player

Take every opportunity to play chess – usually players improve by playing more often. Try to play opponents better than yourself – learn from any mistakes you make and take account of any advice offered by the opponent when you analyse your game. Use chess notation to record all your games. Play through the game afterwards (using Fritz) and keep your games in a scorebook or ideally on a database (e.g. Chessbase).

Go along to your local chess club and try to take part in any tournaments or matches they have. Find out who the County manager is for your relevant Essex Team e.g. juniors and u100s. Play for your County team if possible whenever you are selected. Enter as many Junior Chess events as you can but also take the opportunity to play at Chess Congresses that will be open to adult players. Do not worry about facing opponents older than yourself or with a higher grading - this is how you learn and improve.

Aim for events that stretch you but avoid aiming too high in the beginning as this could be detrimental to both your grade and your confidence. Try to build on your experience slowly - when you start winning or drawing most of your games, progress to the next level i.e. u120s to Minor to Major to Open. Consider having regular coaching from a more experienced player. This could be a friend or relative, a member of your chess club or an English Chess Federation Coach (see the ECF website for more details). The ECF also has a Certificate of Merit scheme.

Use all the learning resources available to improve your game. If you like reading there are plenty of books available - try to get at least one book on Openings and one on Endgames. If you are not keen on reading, DVDs and Online websites are a good resource. There are many different websites where it is possible to play chess online and there are countless instructional videos on YouTube by expert players such as Andrew Martin and KingCrusher. Learn a couple of chess openings that you feel comfortable playing - start with one opening for white and one for black (for both e4 and d4 openings). As you develop try to add to these to give you a repertoire of chess openings. Take time to look at as many openings as you can so at least you know how to respond to the main alternate systems - this will save you time in the game itself.

Always use the time on your clock sensibly - work out the average time per move and keep that in mind throughout your game. If you need to take longer on one particular move don't worry, just adjust the remaining time. In long play games you must write down your moves - you can stop writing when you have 5 minutes left on your clock. If you have a problem during your game, stop the clock and raise your hand to attract an arbiter - do not wait until the end to raise an issue. Take time to learn important rules such as the "2 minute" rule; what to do if your opponent makes an illegal move; repetition of position and 50 move rule.


Simple Hints to Remember

Play slowly. Don’t make your first move until you are completely calm. If your opponent makes a weird opening, stop and think about it. You may not know if your opponent is brilliant, average or useless; assume that he or she is brilliant. If you’re not sure what to play, sit back in your chair to think. Play slowly. If you spot a good move, look for a better one. Do your thinking with your arms folded. Stop every 5 moves and think about the position of all your pieces. If you think your opponent has made a blunder, it might be a trap. Play slowly.


Advice for Parents

So your son or daughter has caught the chess bug – what can I do to help ? Give up your life!!! Ha ha only kidding....... but expect to spend a lot of time sitting in sports halls and hotels!! Buy a flask and a picnic bag!! Start with entering children into as many junior tournaments as possible - get them playing every day (or as least as much as possible). Go through the games with them - even if you can't play it helps your child with the thought process if they have to explain to you what they did and why.... Join the ECF - cheaper entry fees for congresses. Once they start getting better results (at school / megafinal / local tournaments) enter them into as many of the John Robinson Grand Prix Events - 5 per year including the British Championships. If they score well here - usually 3 out of 5 or 3.5 out of 6 - on more than one occasion - they will get their "half norms" and if Under11 they will be invited to the England U11 qualifying tournament, or if above that age they will be invited to join the National Junior Squad - further details please see (Please note this site is provided by Staffordshire Junior Chess).

This is not easy - persevere and don't expect it to happen overnight. Once in the squad, they will then get the opportunity to play abroad or against other National sides. This is not playing for England as such but provides fantastic overseas experiences. Play in as many of these as you can. At this stage they also need to consider their grade in order to qualify to play for England. Their grade (Standard ECF grade NOT rapidplay) needs to be over a certain standard for them to qualify for high tournaments such as the European and World Championships - look at the ECF junior page to see what the target grade is for the relevant age group. If they have serious ambitions with chess you will need to start playing in FIDE rated tournaments e.g. e2e4 tournaments; Hastings; Southend; Blackpool etc. Some of these tournaments have very long games - 1 game per day - make sure your child is ready for this - build up slowly. FIDE grades are the ones that are recognised internationally - see the FIDE web-site. You have to play a minimum of 9 FIDE rated games to get a grade - you have to play another player with a FIDE rating for the game to count. FIDE grades are published every 2 months and all games are on the web-site. After this stage you will probably know more about chess than the writer and your child may be aiming for a title ..... this will take a sustained effort and a coach would be essential at this stage.... Good Luck!!


Junior Chess Clubs

Basildon Junior Chess Club Arnold Lutton Email:

Thurrock Junior Chess Club

Tuesdays 7.30pm - 8.30pm East Thurrock Community Association, 77 Corringham Road, Stanford-le-Hope, SS17 0NU

Wednesdays 7.30pm - 8.30pm St Thomas of Canterbury Church Social Club, 16 East Thurrock Road, Grays, RM17 6SR Tel. 01375 379424 Malcolm Crane

Chelmsford Junior Chess Club Meets at Christ Church, New London Road, Chelmsford from 4.30pm to 6.00pm on Tuesdays starting 3/11/15.  Robin

Colchester Junior Chess Club Hythe Community Centre, Venture Drive, Colchester, CO1 2FG starts from 21/9/17 and then every Thursday (school terms) 4.30pm to 6.00pm. Mike Cataby  07838085656  

The Knights of Gidea Park Junior Chess Club Meets between 3:45 and 5:00pm every Friday Quaker Meeting House 7 Balgores Crescent, Gidea Park, RM2 6AB

The Knights of Wanstead Junior Chess Club Meets between 5:30 and 7:30pm every Tuesday at Wanstead House 21 The Green E11 2NT  

For details on all the "Knights" Clubs Contact Richard Harding at or call 07941818617                                          


The coaches listed below are not endorsed in any way by the EJCA. The EJCA cannot be held responsible for any private arrangements made with the coaches. It is recommended that individuals use coaches with a valid CRB certificate or coaches accredited by the ECF.
Name of Coach Areasort descending Contact Details ECF Accredited
Arnold Lutton Basildon 01268 280932 No
Robin Slade Chelmsford No
Dave Hawkins Essex 020 8531 5066 No
Trevor Dickerson Essex 01245 697735 Yes
Lawrence Trent Essex No
Jeff Page Ilford No
Richard Harding Ilford/Romford 07941 818617 Yes
Peter Walker Southend 01702 309693 No
Ivor Smith Writtle 01245 421193 No