Categories
Events

Set for Promotion?

Queens Park has generated a significant lead in Division 3b of the historically significant Glasgow Chess League.

The Glasgow team, one of six league and cup teams Queens Park is operating this season, has outperformed expectations, and developed a strong chance of winning promotion to Division 2 for the 2023/24 season.

The top of the league table is currently as follows:

  1. Queens Park (15pts – 9 games played)
  2. Lenzie Dementors (12pts – 10 games)
  3. Glasgow Uni (11pts – 8 games)
  4. Hamilton D (8pts – 9 games)
  5. Hamilton C (7pts – 8 games)

Queens Park sit top by three points, with three fixtures remaining. Glasgow University are four points behind, with one game in hand, while Lenzie Dementors have played an extra game, and are three points off the pace.

A busy league schedule in March & April will see Queens Park try to pick up maximum points in an effort to maintain the lead over the higher rated Glasgow University team, which got one win and one draw from its two fixtures vs Queens Park, and the talented Lenzie Dementors junior team.

Connor Thompson (left), Jordan McNaught (second from left) & Graeme McKinnon (second from right) have scored points in Division 3b

With Division 2 operating six-board teams, compared to four-board teams in Division 3, Queens Park will be able to operate a larger team in the new season if the campaign to win the league and achieve the promotion spot is successful.

Despite being formed in January 2019, 2022/23 is the first opportunity Queens Park has had to complete a league season, owing to the impacts and disruptions of the Covid pandemic. A league win on the first time of asking will be a notable achievement for the Club.

Team Captain Rhys McCrosson, pictured top, said: “I believe the team is almost guaranteed promotion.”

Here are two games from the team’s latest fixture, a 4-0 win at home to Hamilton C on Thursday 9 March (the ‘home’ game was in fact played in Hamilton, as a result of junior players in the visiting team and licensing restrictions in The Bungo).

In the first game, Connor Thompson won an impressive 13 move (!) miniature, while in the second, Rhys set up a Queen sacrifice to deliver mate. Click on the links for access to the full games.

Connor Thompson (White) vs Hamilton C. White to move – what did Connor play to lead his opponent to resign? Click for full game.
Hamiton C vs Rhys McCrosson (Black). Black to move and mate in two. Click for full game.
Categories
Club Championship

Beltrami Club Championship – Round 3

Overview

In 2022/23, Queens Park Members have the opportunity to compete in our five round Club Championship, supported by our season sponsor Beltrami & Co.

Each round has a ‘designated date’. This is a Tuesday evening club night at which we encourage Members to play their Beltrami Club Championship games in our usual venue.

Games are played over-the-board at the 60+0 time control, under Chess Scotland rules, involving use of a clock and notating moves. One point is awarded for a win, and half a point for a draw. Using the Swiss pairings format, the number of points Members are on will determine who they are drawn against in the next round – i.e. “winners play winners”.

The designated date for round 3 is Tuesday 21 February, with a 6:45pm start time in The Bungo.

IMPORTANT NOTE:

If you are participating in the Club Championship, and cannot make this date, please contact Tournament Controller Alex Lane, or another Member of the Committee, by WhatsApp or email, and we will work with you and your opponent to reschedule.

There were a number of defaults in round 2. Those who do not turn up for their game, or notify us in advance, risk inconveniencing their opponent and forfeiting the game. Repeat offenders may be removed from the tournament, as those affected have to wait around for an opponent to show up, and also miss out on the opportunity for a graded game. We appreciate all cooperation in making the tournament an enjoyable experience for everyone taking part.

The round 2 standings and the round 3 pairings follow below.

Paul Cumming (left, facing) is one of seven in the leading pack

Standings After R2

38 players were paired in the second round, which saw some notable results. Among the winners were Wull ‘giant-killer’ Swales, whose against-the-odds victory was immortalised in a special Club Newsletter illustration.

The full results are available on this website.

The results have also been graded and published by Chess Scotland.

The standings, with seven players on the maximum two points, are:

No.NameRatingPoints
1Ash Angappan02
2Connor Thompson02
3Tommy Lally15952
4Craig Thomson15802
5Rhys McCrosson15032
6Paul Cumming14342
7Giuseppe Bosco14112
8Harvey Dellanzo13731
9Graeme McKinnon13391
10Alex Lane14331
11Derek Rankine13381
12Ryan McGill01
13Wull Swales01
14Caitlin McCulloch11281
15Iain Shields11151
16Chris Dinwoodie10361
17Andrew Speirs01
18Jonathan Linney01
19Philip Blaber12531
20Sagar Kukreja01
21Alistair Ahmed16351
22Ronnie Martin01
23Paul Stewart01
24Rhys Brown01
25Stewart Gray14491
26Thomas Fowley01
27Gemma Dickson01
28Douglas Veitch00.5
29Moray Lennox00.5
30Jass McNeill12540
31Harry Thomson00
32Jackie Logan00
33James Carson00
34Jordan McNaught14230
35Michael Mathieson00
36Greg Forrest00
37Sachin Vats00
38Ethan Small00
39Aidan Doye00
Boards 1 & 2 in R2, clockwise from left: Tommy L., Derek, Iain & Rhys M.

Round 3

With more new Club Members joining, there will be 42 participants in round three. The pairings are:

Designated date: Tue 21 Feb, 6:45pm

BdWhiteRatingScoreBlackRating
1Paul Cumming14340-1Tommy Lally1595
2Craig Thomson15801-0Giuseppe Bosco1411
3Ash Angappan00-1Rhys McCrosson1503
4Graeme McKinnon13390-1Connor Thompson0
5Harvey Dellanzo13731-0Wull Swales0
6Ryan McGill0.5-.5Alex Lane1433
7Derek Rankine13381-0Ronnie Martin0
8Sagar Kukreja0.5-.5Caitlin McCulloch1128
9Iain Shields11150-1Rhys Brown0
10Gemma Dickson00-1Chris Dinwoodie1036
11Alistair Ahmed16351-0Andrew Speirs0
12Jonny Linney00-1Thomas Fowley0
13Stewart Gray14490-1*Philip Blaber1253
14Douglas Veitch01-0*Harry Thomson0
15Jass McNeill12540-1Moray Lennox0
16Aidan Doye01-0Andy Chisholm0
17Jackie Logan00-1David Logue1579
18Paul Chapman00-1*Jordan McNaught1423
19Michael Mathieson01-0*Riccardo Olivier0
20Thomas McAleer00-1Sachin Vats0
21Greg Forrest01-0Gary Collins0
* default win

This table will be updated over February and early March as results come in.

The designated date for round 4 is Tuesday 4 April.

Please contact us if you have any queries about the Club Championship.

Giuseppe (left) will be on board two vs Craig Thompson in round three.
Categories
Interview

Interview – Wull Swales

Why do people join chess clubs?
What are they looking for?
What is it like to be part of Glasgow’s Queens Park Chess Club?

Each month, Derek Rankine (Club Secretary) interviews Queens Park members and asks them to share their experiences and perspectives.

The latest interviewee is Wull Swales, 35, a Support Worker who helps people to improve their confidence and independence, and work towards their goals. Wull, who is also an accomplished rock musician and performer, grew up in Twynholm in Dumfries & Galloway. He attended Music College in Greenock, and now lives in Auldhouse, Glasgow.

Wull joined the Chess Club earlier this season, and is competing in the Beltrami Club Championship and the upcoming Scottish National Chess League. As of January 2023, he has a chess.com rapid rating of 769 and a daily rating of 811, and is working towards a Chess Scotland grading.

Derek: Did you learn the rules of chess in childhood?

Wull: I have memories of learning how the pieces moved when I was in Primary School. A child-minder and friend of the family taught me. In my adult life, up until last year, I remember playing a handful of games on my phone sitting in the back of a tour bus, doing pass and play.

What triggered your immersion in chess in 2022?

I don’t want to say Beth Harmon… but I think the show piqued my interest, and I liked the idea of learning. Then at the start of summer 2022, I saw a post on a community page from Marianne Burns about local casual chess. I joined the group chat and found out about the chess meetups in Queens Park. But before I even went to one of the Thursday or Sunday gatherings, Rhys McCrosson posted in the chat, does anyone want to meet up in Queens Park and play one on one?

So I packed up my Poundland board, and we spent a few hours playing and talking in the sunshine. We worked on some fundamentals and as I could feel myself being drawn further and further in, Rhys started telling me about the Chess Club, and that I should visit on a Tuesday evening when the new season started at the end of August.

What is it about chess that appeals to you?

There’s a few different things. Firstly I think it’s important to use different parts of your brain. The part of my brain that craves learning and challenging myself loves chess, in the same way the creative side of my brain loves music, songwriting and fantasy novels. I definitely have a bit of a competitive streak in me. I really enjoy just trying my best over the board against someone who’s there to do the same, both of us truly enjoying doing it.

I also play Magic The Gathering competitively. There are big debates online on what is the hardest game ever to play, and chess and Magic are often featured. Both involve a mixture of tactics, assessing board states, strategizing within the game, making choices that make your opponent’s life harder, capitalising on their mistakes, and recovering from losing positions.

I really love the social aspect of chess and Magic too. I’ve had a great time getting to know people and hearing about their passion for the games. I love the spirit of healthy competition. I travelled across UK, Europe and the US playing Magic and making great friends along the way. I’ve already met so many great people through Queens Park Chess Club. I’m looking forward to getting out there and playing more chess tournaments and league games too in Glasgow and Scotland.

Wull faced Jass in the Beltrami Club Championship second round

How did you get into playing chess online?

A lot of people on the WhatsApp chat were talking about chess.com and Lichess, reporting that they are both good platforms to play on and improve. So that’s where I went. I still do a lot of my playing on both. I really enjoy playing different time constraints as well as doing lessons and puzzles.

I’m trying to pay more attention to game analysis, looking at where my games have gone wrong and how to try not to repeat mistakes. Analysis is also about looking at the good moves you didn’t see and committing certain patterns to memory.

You took Rhys’ recommendation, and joined Queens Park Chess Club in Autumn 2022. Did you feel that was the natural next step in your improving journey?

Chess in the Park was such a lovely, wholesome thing. People in the sunshine having a nice time, curious passers by stepping in off the path, joining for a game before going about their day. I looked forward to it every week.

The Queens Park sessions had given me so much passion for the game, and the Chess Club was the clear progression. I knew the Club was an opportunity to play more and push my skills with fantastic developing and experienced players alike. I knew I would be learning not only about playing the game itself, but about tournament play, rules and etiquette.

Has the Chess Club been helpful to your development so far?

The Chess Club has been incredibly helpful. I remember being at my first Club night, when Rhys and yourself ran a Beginner’s Session. During the intro, you said, “this may be your first time recording moves”, and I was already feeling challenged and out of my comfort zone – in a good way. I was already a little unsettled, as it was only the second time I’ve played inside a building!

I’m a strong believer in the idea of, you can’t always win, but you can always learn. I try my best to ask questions and analyse positions and games with whoever I’m playing. Often, I do this even with games I’m watching. Everyone at Queens Park has been fantastic, sharing their skills, knowledge and learning resources, to aid my development so far. I have improved a lot.

“I’m a strong believer in the idea of, you can’t always win, but you can always learn.”

Wull Swales

You have been playing in the Beltrami Club Championship, our five round internal classical tournament. Before it began, you told me you were certain to get five losses, and would look to use these losses as a learning experience. Having played two rounds so far, both against experienced, nationally rated players, your prediction is already way off. Can you tell us a little about both games?

I would be delighted to.

I thought so!

Yeah, five losses, that’s exactly what I thought would happen. My friend Luke, a fantastic chess player who represents Hamilton Chess Club, recommended the book “Chess for Tigers” by Simon Webb. The author writes a lot about the mental preparation for the game – which I think is important. I tried to take this into account. Tigers don’t lose. Tigers asses each situation and carefully consider their actions. Tigers always take their opponents into consideration. Tigers play to their own strengths.

So in Round 1, I had the pleasure of playing Iain Shields. I had played him before a few times, both online and in person. He is a fantastic player, with good opening theory that leads into interesting, unusual middlegame positions. I set myself up and mentally prepared to play to my strengths: no-thrills, solid fundamentals, make positive trades, play to the centre, develop pieces efficiently, and castle quickly to protect my King.

Iain played the Scotch Opening, which I wasn’t very clued up on. My fundamental approach was going well, but I ended up a pawn down early. I was keeping pace with the clock and making decent moves, but gradually I fell behind. Overall, I played well despite losing. I went over the game with Iain and Rhys and was proud of my efforts. I had played to my strengths, as best I could.

Wull benefited from a Queens Park introductory group lesson

The second game had a different outcome, right?

I was chatting to Graeme McKinnon, and he said, with the Swiss pairings system, as the rounds go on, I will have more evenly matched games with players on similar scores, who are closer to my level in experience and ability. But when the pairings went up, I realised I had another strong opponent, who was hundreds of points higher rated – Jass McNeill. Like Iain, I had played Jass before. He had been a massive help in my development during games at Queens Park and in the Club.

This game, I had the White pieces. Up until a few weeks before, I would play 1.e4 only and focus on fundamental opening principles from there. But I started looking at alternatives, and began playing a bit of the English opening. 1.c4 can be quite an explosive start, and I was really enjoying it. I watched some YouTube videos by Grandmasters, and instead of memorising moves, I learned about ideas relating to seeking control of the centre from the side. I was really enjoying learning it, and I thought, if nothing else, at least I’m going to have fun playing an opening I enjoy, with a player I like and admire.

The game itself was incredible. I started with a standard English set up. Jass found strong diagonals for his Bishops. I utilised my Queen and a strong central pawn set up a lot of central tension. Then I castled kingside and Jass queenside. Next, a bloodbath on the b and c files! I ended up slightly ahead, and when the dust settled, I was advancing dangerous pawns, using my Rooks and an active Queen to support them. I managed to promote a pawn, Jass sacrificed a Rook, I set up a check, and my attacking momentum was flowing in waves.

Then a question appeared: do I actually have mate here? I looked at the board for a long time, knowing it must be mate. Surely? My heart was pounding with excitement, but my head was racing with doubt. Have I missed something, could this really be a forced win? Finally, I went for it. I played the move, touched the clock, and Jass lifted his hand for the shake. It was an incredible moment. Relief, joy, and a sense that all of my hard work over the last seven months had come to fruition.

An illustration and a record of Wull’s Beltrami Championship victory was highlighted in the Club newsletter – click to read in full

Congratulations. Your victory was fêted in our new weekly newsletter with a special ‘Wull S the Giant Killer’ illustration by Graeme and a full record of the game. Next up, you have registered to play an International Master in a simultaneous exhibition, and to represent Queens Park in the Scottish National Chess League. Are you looking forward to those experiences?

I’m really thankful to the club to have these kind of opportunities. They’ll be valuable learning experiences. I love to learn and to try new things in this beautiful game we play, and I look forward to representing a Club I’m proud to be a part of in team events.

“My heart was pounding, my head racing… finally, I played the move, and Jass lifted his hand for the shake. It was an incredible moment of relief and joy.”

Wull Swales

Can you tell us about some of your highlights in music?

There’s been a few incredible moments. I spent a week recording in Chicago with the legendary Steve Albini, with a brand new bass waiting for me as I stepped in the studio. There’s certain bucket list things you don’t expect to achieve – it was an incredible experience. As a performer, it would maybe be playing the Wickerman festival. I went to my first Wickerman when I was maybe 16, 17. The local bands were a big inspiration for me. They made me think, “I could do that too”, and helped shape my goals. Going back and playing the Wickerman Souls Tent ten years later was incredible.

I also had the incredible privilege of playing at my own wedding – my wonderful wife Lynsey encouraged me to play a few songs. The band were mutual friends who I’ve deputised for many times in the past. It was just a beautiful day. Getting to share my skill with the people I love the most was incredible. And the chant of “Mammy Mammy Mammy F-ing Swales” for my Mum in between songs was amazing!

Playing the BBC Big Weekend was a really fun experience too. We were on the Introduction Stage with Royal Blood, and Katy Perry was headlining the main stage, she was unbelievable. Me and the drummer sneaked away to get a quiet beer at some point. We got stopped by security trying to get back, as there were “a lot of fake passes”. We had to prove our ID by showing them the BBC live stream – that was pretty cool.

In addition to those, hearing my own voice on the radio for the first time was also brilliant, getting to share stages with bands I admire like Jeniferever, My Vitriol, Withered Hand, Last Days Of April. I was involved in a TV advert with Bruce from Big Country, and I played live shows in New York. Finally, getting to sing in a choir recording with one of my musical icons, the late Scott Hutchinson of Frightened Rabbit, was very important to me musically. That was very special.

Chess and music are closely linked. World Champion Vasily Smyslov was an accomplished opera singer, Soviet Champion Mark Taimonov a famous concert pianist, and Queens Park’s 2022 simul opponent GM Jacob Aagaard is a keen guitarist. While Bob Dylan, Madonna, Sting, Kurt Cobain, and the Wu Tang Clan are just some of those in the popular music world with a serious passion for chess. Why do you think there is a strong crossover between music and chess?

It’s interesting, I’ve thought about this too. I think both music and chess have a basis in maths or science. You take basic principles, expand your knowledge, and test things out with a specific goal in mind. Then the beauty of creative art kicks in. You try different approaches and see what happens. That’s where the magic is born, in music and in chess.

Wull vs Jass, after 22.cxb5 and the “bloodbath on the b and c files” – click image to view full game on Lichess

Do you think there are strong parallels between learning a musical instrument and learning to play chess, such as deliberate solo practice, testing your skills as part of a group, and performing in front of others? Or are they fundamentally separate disciplines requiring different approaches?

There are definite links between the two. Building up basics, understanding what notes are, and how to build chords, could be considered similar to learning about how chess pieces move and interact with the board. Similarly, learning different scales has parallels with learning specific openings, and new techniques like bending guitar strings, are like learning about when to fianchetto your Bishop, and transposing chess board positions is similar to inversions of chords. With both, as your skill improves, you learn about how to build up in different ways to reach a specific goal.  

There are genre characteristics too. The Sicilian opening is the jazz of chess, whereas the Ruy Lopez could be punk rock. I’m sure someone else could put it a lot more elegantly, but at its base level, there are definitely similarities. It’s the end result where they differ. You look to win in chess, while in music, the goal is to share your music, thoughts, feelings, emotions, grooves and energy.

Have you tried to expose your band members to the game?

I’ve been trying to encourage anyone I can to try it out.

We are both fans of the Californian band Weezer. What is your take on singer Rivers Cuomo’s song Chess?

Yeah I 100% love Weezer! “The Blue Album” is one of my favourite albums of all time, and three decades on, they are still producing some absolute bangers. Chess is an incredible song. It gives a 1960s Beatles/Quarrymen vibe. I guess it’s a metaphor for life, and how all the decisions you make affect how you develop as a person.

Even though there are things that make it harder sometimes, you need to roll with the punches, and try to anticipate your next move. You choose what parts of yourself you need to develop and that helps you grow – in chess as in life.

Weezer’s frontman wrote a memorable song about chess and life

Through the local ‘chess in the park’ WhatsApp group, you have been sharing your journey of improving from a novice rating of 317 rapid on chess.com in July 2022 to over 750 in January 2023. Other group members have been impressed with your progress, especially in finding some elegant tactical ideas and mating nets. Are you pleased with your steady improvement?

I am delighted with my improvement so far. I remember in the early days of playing, people would be making comments like “and then the natural thing to do would be to transpose in to the Benoni…” or something like that. I would nod politely as if I knew what they were on about, while thinking, “OK Wull, just remember the horsey can move in an L shape!”

So I really like having a better understanding of the game, so I can start to handle situations better, read the board well, and make good moves. I think it was Todd Anderson (Magic The Gathering player) who said, “you don’t need to know how you’re going to win from turn one, but you should always have a plan”. Which is what I’m trying to focus on now.

“Music and chess have different genres: The Sicilian is the jazz of chess, whereas the Ruy Lopez is like punk rock.”

Wull Swales

What tips would you share with a complete chess beginner, who has just learned how the pieces move?

Find fun in fundamentals, develop your pieces, castle early, try to control the centre of the board and take free pieces. Rhys put me on to ChessBrahs on YouTube – GMs Eric Hansen and Aman Hambleton. They have an excellent “Building Habits” series of videos. I watched and rewatched a bunch, following simple rules to help build up standard habits for good gameplay, while avoiding traps.

As I’ve mentioned earlier, I think it’s important to ask questions. If you don’t know why your opponent did something, ask them after the game. Analyse your games when you can, in person and online, and see where mistakes and triumphs are happening, so you have less of the former and more of the latter.

Is the English your favourite chess opening?

Currently, yes it is. I’m really enjoying playing it, and learning more and more about it as time goes on. In another comparison to the music, it’s the drop D guitar tuning of openings. It starts you from a new place and helps you develop fresh understanding from different viewpoints. I also love playing the Modern Defence as Black (1.d4 g6), using an early Bishop fianchetto to pressure the centre.

Do you have any chess goals – online or over the board?

Online over the next six months I will fight to exceed 1000 rapid rating on chess.com. In person, I will play in more tournaments, soak up the magic that chess has to offer, and work towards a Chess Scotland rating. I’d like to play one of the weekend Congress classical tournaments this year, with five long games in three days.

But mostly I just want to improve as a player and enjoy the ride. And of course, I still need to learn when it is natural to transpose into the Benoni.

Thanks for your time Wull!

This series will continue with a special double interview next month. For those who missed it, last month’s interviewee was Ash Angappan.

Image credits: Martin McKeown (main image of Wull performing); Club President Graeme McKinnon (illustration of Wull & Jass in weekly newsletter – created with the help of artificial intelligence).

Categories
Interview

Interview – Ash Angappan

Why do people join chess clubs?
What are they looking for?
What is it like to be part of Glasgow’s Queens Park Chess Club?

Each month, Derek Rankine (Club Secretary) interviews Queens Park members new and old and asks them to share their experiences and perspectives.

This month, Derek speaks to Ash Angappan, 26, who recently completed a master’s degree in Advanced Physiotherapy Practice at Glasgow Caledonian University. Ash is from a small town near Chennai in Tamil Nadu, south India, and currently lives in Tradeston, Glasgow.

Ash joined the Chess Club during the 2022/23 season. She won her opening fixture in the Beltrami Club Championship and has played for both Queens Park A and B teams in Divisions 1 and 2 of the Dumbarton and District Chess League. As of December 2022, Ash has a Lichess blitz rating of 1670 and is working towards a Chess Scotland rating.

Derek: Do you remember when you were first exposed to chess?

Ash: When I was 11 years old, my mother taught me to play chess. She also taught my sister. My sister was a strong opponent, who always played well and beat me quite easily in classical chess. We did not use a clock, but these were serious, longer games. I used to make moves quickly, but she would think a lot for each move, and win each time without much effort!

How much chess did you play in childhood?

I used to play with my sister and mother quite often, especially during holidays. I played with my cousins on vacation as well. I didn’t know anything about openings, but I knew the rules and how to checkmate.

I started chess at 11 years old and played until I was 17. I stopped playing to concentrate on my studies and get into University.

How did you get into playing chess online?

I started playing chess again in 2019, after finishing my undergraduate degree and getting my first job. I played online, which is easy to get into, but I used a lesser known app for casual play. I got to know about the impressive Lichess website in April 2020 and I started playing competitive games there.

Do you have any memorable achievements in online chess?

I remember I started playing Lichess tournaments at the rapid time control for players rated under 1500. The tournaments were an hour long. I think it was my 5th tournament, when I came 1st place!

I was delighted. I screenshotted my trophy and showed it to all my friends. After that, I started playing, quicker – blitz and bullet. I don’t find it easy to play so fast, but currently I am around 1670 rating in blitz and 1632 in bullet.

You are now moving back in the opposite direction, from mainly playing chess online, to mainly playing over the board. What differences are you observing between online and off, and how are you navigating the challenge?

Yes, I learned playing chess over the board, but during the pandemic, I played online. The biggest thing I noticed is that while playing online, as we don’t know the opponent, its looks and feels like a game with a computer. In over the board, it’s completely different. You can’t miss the reality you are competing against another human.

I am having some difficulty over the board at present, because I am used to viewing the board online. But I find I can remember moves I played over the board, even after a few days have passed. I feel this is important, because I am able to go over what I played to analyse and address my mistakes. Even though I have still not learned many openings, I am able to predict some moves before the opponent plays. As I love chess, whatever happens on the board, even if I lose a game, I feel good.

You are one of several University students in Queens Park. How are you finding the balance of playing chess and developing your skills, alongside studies and other commitments?

I would say that playing chess has really improved my confidence. I find that after an over the board game, I feel enthusiastic. Sometimes after coming home after Chess Club, I would be motivated to complete assignments. I feel that my brain is more active after playing chess – I literally feel the same way as I do after a plank exercise workout.

As I love chess, whatever happens on the board, even if I lose a game, I feel good.

Ash Angappan

Did you play in any Chess Clubs or tournaments in India?

Unfortunately, I haven’t played any tournaments in India, and I wasn’t a member of any Chess Club there. I regret that I was not active in organised chess when I was India.

You moved from India to Scotland in the last two years. What differences, if any, have you noticed between the general popularity and culture of chess in the two countries?

There is a major culture change, but I am pleased chess is widely played in both countries. The biggest difference is the weather. I came to Glasgow alone, without having any friends, but people in the city helped make me feel comfortable quickly.

I really love being in Glasgow. People are so friendly, and the city is a good place to live and study. I did find it difficult last year because of the winter, but now I am starting to get used to the weather!

Chess can help fill our long winter nights! Staying with India, Vishy Anand was World Champion before Magnus Carlsen. As of December 2022, Vishy is still in the top ten, at the age of 52. What influence has he had on the general development of chess in India?

He will always be the hero of chess in India. My Mum used to talk about Vishy a lot when I was young. I am a big fan of Vishy’s, I have followed his progress off and on. Things changed a lot after Vishy won the 2007 World Championship. Now, there are a lot of Chess Clubs, super-strong players, top coaches, and a lot of general encouragement for people to play chess.

This all led to India hosting the Chess Olympiad this year, which is really a proud moment for India. As Vishy is from Chennai, which is in Tamil Nadu, that makes me a little prouder of my home state.

A scene from the opening ceremony of the 44th ‘Olympics of Chess’ in July 2022. India hosted the event for the first time this year.

Going back to 1988, Anand had just become the first Grandmaster in India. It’s amazing to see the progress: now there are more than 75, and several young prodigies like Vidit Gujrathi, Dommaraju Gukesh and Arjun Erigaisi are in the top 30 globally and rising fast. Do you think we will see another World Champion from India in the near future?

I am certain that there will be another World Champion from India. I think you missed out Praggnanandha, who famously defeated the current World Champion, Magnus Carlsen, this year. I could also name some other talented young players from India who I can imagine competing to be World Champion in future.

Another link from Tamil Nadu to Queens Park is, Scotland’s top player from the 2022 Olympiad there, IM Andrew Greet, will be visiting us for a simultaneous match in January 2023. Speaking of which – why did you decide to join Queens Park Chess Club this season?

As soon as I came to Glasgow, I started looking for Chess Clubs, but due to my studies, I didn’t have time for one to start with. As soon as I got settled, I started my search again. I posted a question in the Queens Park Chess Club Facebook group, and got a reply very quickly, which made me very happy to join.

What do you remember of your first visit to the Chess Club? Did the Club make a good first impression?

Yes, I do remember, and it did. The people in the Club were so friendly. Paul, Caitlin and others welcomed me and I was added to the WhatsApp group. I played a couple of good games on the first day, which really made me happy.

What do you like most about the Chess Club?

Friendly people who teach me about openings and endgames. Alistair taught me endgames, which really helped me to improve my game. Alex taught me some new openings. I like how people exchange their knowledge and share their thoughts freely to help others.

What would you like to see the Chess Club do better, or differently?

The club is doing good so far! I would like to see more classes though.

With so many super-strong players and top coaches, I am certain that there will be another World Champion from India.

Ash Angappan

Chess has a notorious gender imbalance. Most Chess Clubs around the world are mainly, or entirely, male. What do you think would support or encourage more women to participate?

Yes, that’s true. When I came to the Chess Club, I saw only very few females and overall, I think females are a small proportion of the membership. How to fix this? One idea is, schools could provide chess classes for girls, once a week.

Have you personally had any negative experiences in chess because of your gender, whether online or in person?

When I was in India, I was speaking to one of my neighbours, who told me that he plays chess. I told him that I too play chess but without playing with me, he assumed: your rating must be 600. I replied to him, in fact, my rating is 1600. Then I played many rapid games with him, in which I won all the games. He prejudged me because I am a female.

The strongest female chess player of all time, GM Judit Polgar (left), pictured at the United Nations in 2017.

I hope he learned his lesson. Do you think cultural developments in recent decades, such as Judit Polgar’s incredible career and Anya Taylor Joy’s performance in The Queen’s Gambit, are helpful in promoting the game to women?

Yes, I really do. When I watched The Queen’s Gambit I was stunned with her acting and the quality of the chess. I started thinking of my moves after sleeping, which is funny! I think there should be more movies to encourage women to play chess.

You are only beginning to learn about chess openings, but do you have a favourite?

I like playing Queen’s Pawn openings, which I feel is a little more secure for the White king and a safer way to play.

Click on the board to learn more about the main ideas behind 1.d4 and typical Black responses.

Do you have a favourite chess player, from past or present?

My all-time favourite is Vishy. Currently, I like Praggnanandha, Magnus, Anish Giri and Humpy Koneru.

What tips would you share with chess beginners, who are looking to improve?

I think beginners should do two things in general: play more games, and watch or study Grandmaster games, especially those that provide strong ideas on how to attack and defend.

I like how friendly Queens Park is: members exchange knowledge freely to help each other.

Ash Angappan

Do you have any chess-related ambitions?

Yes, I aim to win one tournament over the board.

Finally – when you next play your sister, who do you think will win?

She is not playing chess at present. I am pretty sure that I would win against her now, even in classical games!

Many thanks Ash! This series will continue into 2023. Previous interviewees are: Ryan McGillAlex RadevicRhys McCrosson.

Image credits: 

Indian Dancers: Chess Olympiad India 2022 by Andreas Kontokanis used under license CC BY-SA 2.0.

#CSW61 Side Event – “Fighting Stereotypes with Judit Polgár” by UN Women used under license CC BY-SA 2.0.

Categories
Club Meetings Events

Leaderboard, Leagues & More

November 2022 was another packed month for the Club. Business continued for our three teams in the Glasgow and Dunbartonshire Chess Leagues, the Beltrami Club Championship got underway, and we initiated a Club Leaderboard. We were represented at national tournaments in Oban and Livingston, and we hosted a group of visitors from the admirable Freedom From Torture charity.

We reached an impressive milestone of 40 members, making Queens Park one of the bigger chess clubs in Scotland. That is all the more impressive given it doesn’t include non-members who: join us in Wellcroft Bowling Club for casual chess on Tuesdays; play in the Thursday Chess Group; and/or join our meetups on Sunday mornings. Full details follow.

Beltrami Championship

32 players competed in the first round of our Club Championship, sponsored by law firm Beltrami & Co. The tournament provides an opportunity for members of all abilities to test their classical skills, gain or improve upon a national rating, and compete for the prestigious trophy.

Round one winners included the Club’s highest rated players Tommy Lally (1616) and Craig Thomson (1606), and defending champion Rhys McCrosson (1477). On the lower boards, unrated newcomers Connor Thompson, Andrew Speirs, Ash Angappan and Paul Stewart also picked up full points. Full results here.

Round two, which has the designated date of Tuesday 10 January, will see six new Members join the tournament. Players unavailable on this date may arrange for their game to take place later in January. The round two draw will be made by Tournament Controller Alex Lane in early December, and will pair winners against winners using the Swiss format.

All round one games concluded in November

Club Leaderboard

This month saw the launch of Queens Park’s own elo system in a special Club Leaderboard administered by Club President Graeme McKinnon. “Queens Park elo” does not contribute to Chess Scotland or FIDE ratings – but it does provide all-important bragging rights.

The Leaderboard is open to members and non-members alike, and simply involves playing a timed over-the-board rapid game (10+0, 15+0 or 30+0) with another player during a Club night, and recording the outcome in a score slip.

All players start at 1200. At the end of November, Rhys McCrosson leads and is the first player to cross the 1300 threshold, out of more than 30 players that have played at least one Leaderboard game to date. Click here to see the standings and rules.

Driven: Rhys leads in no. games and rating

Oban Congress

Congratulations to Queens Park’s Jordan McNaught, a surprise joint winner of the Major section of the 2022 Oban Congress. Jordan, ungraded, was one of three players to share the prize money with 3.5/5.

Just behind on 3/5 were Alex Lane and Alex Radevic, while Derek Rankine scored 2.5/5. With Queens Park supplying the three lowest seeds of 14 players, it was an impressive outcome for the Club.

Oban: (l-r) Alex R, Zizheng, Alex L, Derek, Iain & Jordan

Queens Park was also represented in the Minor section by Iain Shields, who got 2.5/5, while Strathclyde Uni’s Liu Zizheng, who regularly visits Queens Park, achieved 2/5 in the Challengers section.

The five round classical tournament (75 mins per player for the first 30 moves, then an additional 30 mins per player) was held in Oban’s Royal Hotel on the weekend of 18-20 November.

International Master Andrew Greet, who will be visiting Queens Park on 31 January 2023 for a special 22 board simultaneous exhibition, won the tournament’s Open section with 4.5/5. An invitation to the simul will be shared with Members in early January.

Jordan collecting his well-earned Oban prize money

Livingston Allegro

A Queens Park delegation was in attendance at a Scottish Chess Tour rapid tournament in Livingston’s Mercure Hotel on 8 November. In a tough Major section, Graeme McKinnon scored 2/5 and Jordan McNaught got 1/5.

In the internationally rated Minor section, Connor Thompson achieved three consecutive wins to finish on 3/5, while Jonny Linney got 2/5 and Ryan McGill got 1/5. The time control for the five round Swiss pairings event was 20+10.

Livingston: (l-r) Connor, Jordan, Ryan, Graeme & Jonny

Freedom From Torture

The international charity Freedom From Torture, which provides therapy and support for people who are recovering from torture, visited Queens Park this month. The charity’s Scottish branch runs a chess group for some of its service users. On 23 November, the group joined us for some casual games and advice on learning and development.

Our Members greatly enjoyed meeting the group and sharing some tips around opening principles and middlegame strategy. The group have an open invitation to join us again anytime in future.

Freedom From Torture’s chess group visited Queens Park

Monthly Interview

Our interview series continued with Ryan McGill as our November subject. Ryan is an enthusiastic new Member who arrived at Queens Park Chess Club via our local partner, Thursday Chess Group.

In his interview, Ryan tells us about how his interest in the game developed, picks out several highlights from his first few months in the Club, and shares some useful advice to newer players.

Meanwhile, the Thursday Chess Group is also growing in size. This month they set up home in a new location, the Corona Bar in Shawlands. Thanks to a successful joint bid to the Thriving Govanhill Fund, players no longer have to bring their own chess sets, and can turn up for a game anytime from 6pm on Thursday.

Our Thursday Group partners in their new venue, Corona Bar

Endgame Class

Our internal Club training sessions continued with Alex Radevic hosting one on practical endgames on 29 November. Alex used our new demonstration board (purchased with Thriving Govanhill funding) to set up and work through a series of positions with a group of eight.

Next month, Graeme McKinnon will take a class on developing an opening repertoire. The session will be particularly valuable to those at intermediate level who are less clear about how to build up an appropriate depth of knowledge in their favoured openings. A session invitation will be shared via the Club Member WhatsApp group next month.

League Update

Queens Park’s impressive start in the Glasgow Chess League continued with a 2-2 draw away to the Glasgow University A team on 16 November. The result, achieved from wins by Tommy Lally and Paul Cumming on boards two and four respectively, keeps Queens Park’s promotion chances in good health at the top of Division 3b.

In the Dumbarton & District Chess League, Queens Park’s A team in Division 1 lost 0.5-3.5 at home to Stepps A. Craig Thomson achieved Queens Park’s half point by drawing an opponent rated more than 400 points higher, and ungraded Connor Thomson put up a tremendous fight against 2000+ rated Stepps opponent John Henderson.

Queens Park’s B team had mixed fortunes in Division 2 of the Dunbartonshire League. Caitlin McCulloch captained the team to an impressive 3.5-0.5 win away to a Giffnock side featuring her father, Andy, on 7 November. The following week, on 15 November, the team suffered a 4-0 defeat at home to an impressive Strathclyde University side. The second game saw league debuts for new and ungraded Queens Park Members Sachin Vats, Greg Forrest and Sagar Kukreja.

Queens Park lead Division 3b of the Glasgow Chess League

The Dunbartonshire teams are frequently rotated with a view to giving newer players experience alongside some of our higher rated Members. Those wishing to join a future team are encouraged to respond to calls for league players issued by captains in the Members WhatsApp group.

As some Members have reported difficulty finding the latest league tables, this website will feature a regularly updated set of tables on a dedicated new League Info page. In addition, our website calendar also provides detail on all league fixtures across the 2022/23 season, as well as special events.

National Ambition

In early 2023, Queens Park will be going national. We have registered teams in two Scotland-wide Cup competitions – the Spens and the Richardson.

The ‘first’ Queens Park Chess Club, which was active from the 1870s to the 1930s, won the prestigious Spens Cup on several occasions. While it is unlikely we will match their success on our first try, we will look forward to following in their footsteps and testing ourselves against other Clubs across the country in the five board Cup.

Queens Park may be entering the Scottish National Chess League too. The Committee are considering an invitation to join Division Five for the current season, with fixtures beginning in January.

The historic Queens Park Club first won the Spens Cup in 1903

Public Posters

The posters highlight the three busy chess meetups

Finally, those in Govanhill and Shawlands may have spotted our above poster, highlighting the three regular and free-to-attend chess meetups around Queens Park. The posters are currently on display in community noticeboards and selected venues.

As always, current and prospective Members and regulars are encouraged to contact Graeme (President) or Derek (Secretary) with any queries on recent and forthcoming activity.

Categories
Events

League Restart, Dundee, New Investment

October was a busy and productive month for Queens Park Chess Club. Our three league teams had two matches each, we had good representation in the Major and Minor section of the Dundee Congress, and we met Grandmaster Daniel King

Away from the chess board, we confirmed Beltrami law practice as our 2022/23 season sponsor, and achieved a share of a community grant voted on by residents of Govanhill. The new investments will help the Chess Club to manage its recent growth. 

One immediate use of the grant will be to purchase additional chess sets for the Club and for our local partner, the Thursday Chess Group, to address recent shortages and enable even more people around the Queens Park area to join us for casual and competitive chess.

Read on to learn how our players fared in six league matches and a national tournament.

Glasgow Chess League

It has been almost 90 years since a Queens Park Chess Club team competed in the historically significant Glasgow Chess League.

Our Division 3b Team, captained by Rhys McCrosson, got off to a winning start away to the talented juniors of Hamilton C, scoring 3.5 to 0.5. This included a win on board one for J Craig T Thomson, formerly of East Kilbride, in his first game for Queens Park – and his first league game in decades!

The second match was at home to Lenzie Dementors, another extremely strong junior side. The score was 3-1, with wins for Rhys McCrosson, Paul Cumming and Jordan McNaught. The two wins put Queens Park top of the league at the end of October. 

There are many fixtures to come, and next month will see the team visit Glasgow University A, who are also likely to be pushing for promotion to Division 2. Results and standings are available on the Glasgow Chess League website. 

Rhys is captain of Queens Park’s Glasgow team

Dumbarton Chess League

Queens Park A, captained by Jass McNeill, face tough opposition in Division 1 of the Dumbarton & District Chess League this season.

The first game resulted in a loss away to Renfrewshire. Jordan McNaught won for Queens Park on board two. Tommy Lally, formerly of Airdrie and Shettleston Chess Clubs, and currently Queens Park’s strongest player by grading, was winning his game on board one and almost saved a draw, but a mistake in time pressure led to a 3-1 loss.

The A team drew its second game, home to Phones A on 24 October. The away side had the impressive Pavlos Bozinakis, rated 2177 FIDE, on board one. Pavlos had to work hard to beat 1481 rated Alex Radevic. A win from Graeme McKinnon, and draws by Harvey Dellanzo and Derek Rankine achieved the team’s first league point of the season. See Division 1 results and standings

Caitlin McCulloch – who this month joined the Club Committee – captains Queens Park B in the Dumbarton league Division 2. The first game featured four unrated players against Bearsden B. Harry Thomson picked up his first win for the Club on board four in a 3-1 home defeat on 11 October.

In the second match, away to Stepps B on 27 October, the team secured a 2.5-1.5 victory, with wins from Chris Dinwoodie and Jonny Linney, and Tommy Lally got a draw on board one. See Dumbarton Division 2 results and standings.

The Dumbarton league fixtures provided valuable experience for many players new to competitive, classical over-the-board chess. Next up for Queens Park B is away to Giffnock on 7 November (Caitlin’s father, Andrew, plays for Giffnock, raising prospects for an inter-family clash!). The A team host Stepps A the following evening.    

Click on the board to see Graeme McKinnon’s win vs Phones A

Dundee Congress

A contingent from Queens Park attended the Dundee Chess Congress (pictured above) on the weekend of 14-16 October. Held in the University of Dundee’s Chaplaincy Centre, the five round classical event (time control: 90+15) featured three sections – Premier, Major and Minor.

The Premier section was tied by IM Andrew Greet of Bearsden and FM Keith Ruxton of Sandy Bells Chess Club. IM Greet kindly donated several chess sets to Queens Park at the start of the 2022/23 season, and has agreed in principle to give a simultaneous match against our Members in early 2023. We intend to arrange a date and issue a call for players later in the Autumn.

Three Queens Park Members competed in the Major section – Alex Lane, Rhys McCrosson, and Jordan McNaught. They were joined by Liu Zizheng of Strathclyde University, a regular visitor to Queens Park, who finished on an impressive 2.5 points out of 5. 

Alex Lane (right) achieved a Chess Scotland grading of 1316

In round two, Rhys achieved a superb victory with the Black pieces against top seed Donald Heron, rated 1797. Rhys finished on 2 points. Alex scored three draws to get 1.5/5, and achieved a national rating of 1316 in the process, while Jordan finished on the same score with one win and one draw.

Iain Shields and Chess in the Park & Thursday Chess Group regular Ronnie Martin played in the Minor section. Both finished on 2 points, Ronnie scoring two wins and three losses, Iain achieving a win and two draws.

Next up on the national stage is November’s Livingston Allegro and the Oban Congress. Several Queens Park Members will be participating in both.

Pictures from the Dundee Chess Congress on Flickr

Categories
Interview

Interview – Alex Radevic

Why do people join chess clubs?

What are they looking for?

What is it like to be part of Glasgow’s Queens Park Chess Club?

In a new series, Derek Rankine (Club Secretary) interviews Queens Park members new and old and asks them to share their experiences and perspectives.

This month, Derek spoke to Alex Radevic, 36, who works as a software engineer. Alex was born and brought up in Lithuania’s capital city, Vilnius, and now lives in Shawlands, Glasgow.

Alex is one of the Club’s strongest players, finishing 3rd place of 20 in the first Club Championship in 2021/22. At the time of writing, in October 2022, he holds a Chess Scotland classical rating of 1481 and a Lichess classical rating of 1933. He is also a member of the Club Committee.

Derek: What is your earliest chess memory?

Alex: I learned chess moves when I was a child, but I got interested in the game only when I was around 15. I didn’t get to play chess as much as I wished – my parents don’t play, and at school, none of my classmates played either. So mostly I played chess online.

Tell us about your experience with chess clubs in Scotland.

In 2015, I emailed a few clubs close to Glasgow’s west end, where I lived at the time. John McIntyre – President of Phones Chess Club – kindly responded and invited me to join. Eventually, I ended up playing for Phones B team in Division 2 of the Glasgow Chess League for a few years.

After that, I didn’t play chess for some time, as I had other priorities at that point. When I moved to Shawlands in the south of Glasgow, I found Queens Park Chess Club – then known as Govanhill Chess Club – on its Facebook page. My former captain, Colin Paterson, who helped set the club up, also recommended Govanhill to me. So I decided to go along to a session early in the 2021/22 season.

I also went to several meetings of the Thursday Chess Group in Brodies Bar next to Queens Park, including some of their first gatherings in Autumn 2021.

I have played in several chess tournaments in Scotland. I think the 2017 Edinburgh Congress was my first serious tournament, and my most memorable one.

Glasgow Division 2 2017/18 standings; Alex played for Phones B

What do you like most about Queens Park Chess Club?

I like the enthusiasm of all members, the willingness to help each other improve, and to involve more people in the game. If I had to pick one thing, it would be the friendliness, and the warm welcome to new members of different ages and backgrounds.

What do you think the Chess Club could be doing better, or differently?

The club could meet more than once a week, and organise its own chess tournaments.

Queens Park Chess Club is known for its friendliness, and the warm welcome to new members

Alex Radevic

Is chess significantly more popular in Lithuania than it is in Scotland?

Yes – partially because of Lithuania’s Soviet past. Lithuania hosted loads of high level tournaments in the Soviet era. Such as, the 1984 Candidates Match between Kasparov and former world champion Smyslov, which happened in my home city of Vilnius. After beating Smyslov, Kasparov played Karpov in one of the most famous World Championship games of all time. These events raised huge interest in the game and chess culture across Lithuania.

Nowadays, in Lithuania, there are a few young grandmasters, both men and women. Worth mentioning in particular is GM Viktorija Čmilytė who won the European Women’s Chess Championship in 2011. She is married to Peter Heine Nielsen, who has coached world champions Vishy Anand and Magnus Carlsen.

Smyslov vs Kasparov Candidates Match in Vilnius, 1984

You have a large collection of chess books, in English and in Russian. What do you like about books, compared to digital chess resources?

I like the overall experience of using physical books rather than ebooks, videos etc. I get less distracted and I focus more easily.

If you had to pick only one, what book would you recommend to a newer player (sub-1000 elo)?

Probably, “How to Beat Your Dad at Chess” by Murray Chandler. It is a strong collection of checkmating patterns.

How about a book recommendation for an intermediate player (around 1300 elo) looking to improve their general play?

For general play, Capablanca’s “Chess Fundamentals” is still excellent. It covers the key fundamentals of chess strategy and the most essential endgames.

Lithuania hosted many high level events in the Soviet era, which hugely raised chess interest across the country

Alex Radevic

Do you have any general advice for new Queens Park Chess Club members?

If you are new to chess, and want to improve, play longer time control games and analyse them afterwards, especially the games you lost. Do not rely on an engine too much, but try to identify mistakes yourself.

Also, do not be too harsh on yourself for not winning games; what matters most is experience.

Once you have some experience and are comfortable playing over-the-board, start playing competitive chess. Join Queens Park’s Club Championship and start playing for one for our teams in the Glasgow or Dumbarton league. Our captains this season are Rhys, Caitlin and Jass, and members can talk to them about playing on a league team.

Alex finished 3rd of 20 in the 2021/22 Club Championship

You are particularly strong at King-and-pawn endgames. Do you have any tips on how to convert an advantage in these types of endgames?

A main general principle of endgames – especially when Queens are off the board – is to involve your King as early as possible. The same rule applies to King-and-pawn endgames.

Make your king active as early as possible, centralise it, occupy more space. As for pawns, the creation of a passed pawn makes your chances of winning the game higher.

Do not rely on an engine when analysing games you lost; try to identify mistakes yourself

Alex Radevic

Do you have a favourite chess player, current or historic?

I do not have single favourite chess player. I admire many games of Alekhine, Capablanca, Tigran Petrosian, Fischer, Karpov and Carlsen. These players represent different playing styles, but in my opinion, Magnus Carlsen is ultimately the best player. He combines both the attacking and positional styles of previous generations.

What are your future chess ambitions?

To play good chess, and try to raise my national Chess Scotland classical rating to 1600. To be honest, combining work and family life and achieving significant results in chess is very hard! So I am trying to make realistic aims for now.

Thank you to Alex. Club members will be interviewed throughout the season – click here to see more.

Categories
Events

History Made at East Kilbride Allegro

It has been almost 90 years since a player represented Queens Park Chess Club in official competition. As far as we can tell, the last occasion in which the historic Queens Park Chess Club played in formal competition, was losing to Dundee in the 1936 Spens Cup final.

Fast forward to the 21st century, and those of us in the modern club like to think our ancestors would be proud of our picking up points and prizes at the Scottish Chess Tour East Kilbride Allegro.

The rapid event, played over five rounds in a Swiss format (i.e. ‘winners play winners’) tournament at the 20+10 time control, was held in East Kilbride’s Holiday Inn hotel on Sunday 4 September 2022.

Not only did the name of Queens Park Chess Club once again grace a national competition, but the Club was recognised among the prize-winners. The top performers were:

Alex Lane: Alex (pictured above, left) shared second prize in the internationally rated intermediate section with a superb 4/5. On the top board in the final round, Alex narrowly lost to section winner Ishan Kumar of Bearsden, and shared 2nd prize with Liu Zizheng (above right) of Strathclyde University, a regular visitor to Queens Park.

Rhys McCrosson: despite being a major rating underdog in the open section, Rhys (fourth from right) scored 2/5 against fierce opposition. Rhys, who holds a current Chess Scotland Allegro rating of 1240, delivered a performance rating of 1734.

Graeme McKinnon: Graeme (third from left) achieved 3.5/5 in the intermediate section and was placed 5th of 43 in the final standings.

A number of other Queens Park members, plus regulars from Chess in the Park & Brodies Chess Group, scored points and strong mid-table finishes in the intermediate section. Those competing included Jordan McNaught, Caitlin McCulloch, Derek Rankine, Iain Shields, Chris Dinwoodie, Ryan McGill, Jonny Linney and Finn MacLeod.

Several were playing competitive chess for the first time and reported greatly enjoying the experience.

The overall standings and individual results are available on the Chess-Results website:

Open Section

Intermediate Section

A list of prize-winners is available on the Chess Scotland website, while selected games from the open section can be viewed on the Live Chess Cloud.

Categories
Interview

Interview – Rhys McCrosson

Why do people join chess clubs?

What are they looking for?

What is it like to be part of Glasgow’s Queens Park Chess Club?

This is the first of a new series of articles seeking answers to those questions, and providing multiple perspectives on Queens Park Chess Club.

Derek Rankine (Club Secretary) interviews members new and old and asks them to share their experiences and insights.

First up is Rhys McCrosson, 23, a University of Glasgow statistics graduate who lives in Crookston, Glasgow. Rhys won the first Club Championship in 2021/22. At the time of writing, in summer 2022, he is the Club’s highest rated player with a Chess Scotland classical rating of 1481 and a chess.com rapid rating of 1805.

Derek: What draws you to chess? 

Rhys: I started playing chess when I was a bit younger. The first thing that stood out for me was actually the geometry of the game. Then I saw it appear in different TV shows and movies, and when I was a child, I honestly just liked how the characters that played chess were portrayed.

Nowadays though, the main attraction is the fact that it is truly a game that is open to all regardless of your background. The game is rigid, tough and almost scientific – yet so aesthetically pleasing to look at. 

How long have you been playing? 

I’ve been playing on and off since I was around six. My Dad, and my Mum’s friend Laura, both tried to teach me the game. I didn’t really play much until I was eight, when I played my Dad most weeks when I went to visit him. I joined the chess club in my Primary School in the south side of Glasgow when I was nine, and I participated in School tournaments between the ages of 10-11.

I quit chess on the last day of Primary School, despite being my School’s number one player, after being heavily taken for granted at the prize giving ceremony (super petty stuff – I know! I was a child though…)

I didn’t play much again until I was 13-14, when my friends encouraged me, and I decided to play my Dad every few months. I really started playing regularly again around fifth year of school, when I was 16 years old, on the worst apps you could imagine. By this point, I was playing most days.

By the time I started studying at the University of Glasgow, I’d fully adopted the game again. I was playing pretty much every day, sometimes for more than an hour a day, mainly as a way of procrastinating from my seemingly never-ending workload! I continued playing nearly every day until the end of my degree, when I reached 1500-1600 rapid on chess.com.

Rhys specialises in rapid chess, and holds an 1800+ rating on chess.com

When did you join Queens Park Chess Club – and why? 

Shortly after finishing my degree, in the summer of 2021, I stumbled upon Queens Park Chess Club under its former name of Govanhill Chess Club. I went along to one of their outdoor chess sessions at the Queens Park boating pond on a Sunday morning, and then to Wellcroft Bowling Club where the club meet during the week, and I’ve been a regular member ever since.

I had actually wanted to join a chess club for a while, but because of the pandemic and everything being shut, I just didn’t have the option. When I found out about Govanhill Chess Club, I decided to go ahead and check them out. I felt I was finally strong enough to start taking the game a bit more seriously and the club was so local to me – at the time I was living in Eglinton in Glasgow, close to Queens Park. It was a perfect fit.

I would encourage new members to set small, realistic goals. Chess is hard. You’re not going to improve from 1000 to 2000 in a year.

Rhys McCrosson

Was winning the Club Championship your personal highlight of last season? 

It’s hard to say really. It probably was the highlight of the season for me, but I also had some decent games that I was pretty proud of (amongst many that we don’t talk about…).

One of my favourite games of the season was against our south Glasgow neighbours, Cathcart. I was on board #1 with the black pieces. I was fortunate enough to face the King’s Gambit, an opening I am highly confident playing against. I hit my opponent with a lesser known side-line that they were clearly unfamiliar with. Let’s just say, white’s opening didn’t exactly go as planned.

What do you like most about Queens Park Chess Club? 

The diversity of the members. It’s that simple. The diversity was the first thing that struck me when I joined, which makes sense, given Govanhill is a remarkably diverse community. It’s this diversity that demonstrates the fact that chess truly is a game for all demographics and backgrounds.

Another thing I really appreciate is the incredible democratic approach that the Club Committee takes towards decision-making. This is entirely in line with my principles. I recently decided to join the Committee, become a team captain, and help manage its social media on Facebook and Instagram, and its clubs on chess.com and Lichess.  

Rhys first engaged with the club via a Queens Park outdoor chess meetup

What do you think the Club could improve on? 

While I think the Club is generally good on diversity, I’d really love it if it could improve its female representation. It’s not entirely the Club’s fault – many women simply don’t play chess, for multiple reasons, but I think it’s mainly because of historical biases that have culminated in a very male-dominated game.

Things don’t need to be like this. Hopefully the club can become more proactive in attracting women to the game, because I like to think everyone connected to chess in Glasgow and Scotland would agree that it could only be for the better. 

Do you play, learn and improve, outside of the Club? 

Yeah, definitely! I spent years playing chess without a club. At this point, I’m pretty used to teaching myself things. There are a number of online videos and website resources I use to support my development.

What could the Club do better? It could be more proactive in improving its female representation.

Rhys McCrosson

Do you have any chess aspirations for the coming season? 

The aim is definitely to try and retain the Club Championship title, although if someone more deserving wins in 2022/23, then I can only use that experience to improve my game.

Aside from this, It would be pretty nice if I could lead my team to a promotion to Division Two in the Glasgow Chess League, but it remains to be seen what level of opposition we will be facing in Division Three. 

Rhys won the 2021/22 Club Championship, despite losing to Alex Radevic in final round

Queens Park Chess Club is taking in lots of new members on the back of summer outreach activity across the south side of Glasgow and online. Do you have any advice for those coming to a Chess Club for the first time? 

Honestly – make realistic goals.

Some people just want to come, play a few informal games, have a drink and a good chat, and we completely welcome that. Other people come to the club with the intention of improving their game.

For the latter, it can be so easy to start engaging with the game and setting yourself the goal of going from, let’s say, 1000-2000 within a year or two. The truth is – it’s not going to happen. Chess is hard, man. It’s better to set yourself a series of relatively small goals like going from 1000 to 1050 by the end of a period of months, and then 1050-1100 by the end of another few months, and so on.

Just enjoy the game and learn to appreciate the good times when they come. Don’t get bogged down with every single loss because, statistically speaking, you’re going to lose… a lot. You’ve got to learn to lose before you can learn to win. 

Thanks to Rhys for making the first move in this interview series. Look out for more member interviews throughout the 2022/23 season.

Categories
Club Meetings

New Season, New Name, Same Ancient Game! 

The Year Ahead

Newcomers, beginners and those returning to chess after a long absence will receive a very warm welcome at the first evening of the new season, alongside returning members, on Tuesday 30 August at 6:30pm.

The Club is expecting an influx of new members for the 2022/23 season as a result of awareness-raising activity through the summer. We held chess sessions at the Queens Park boating pond weekly on Sunday mornings from the start of June (pictured above), promoted our activities on social media, met a great bunch of folk at weekly chess meetups on Thursday nights in Brodies Bar, and we even appeared on ITV’s News at Ten!

To that end, at the first meeting of the new season, Club Champion Rhys McCrosson and Club Secretary Derek Rankine will provide a free introductory session on classical over-the-board chess, covering rules, etiquette, use of clocks and scoresheets, and practical gameplay tips.

We meet on Tuesday evenings in Wellcroft Bowling Club, Queens Park

A new Club President, Graeme McKinnon, will also be providing a formal welcome alongside Derek, with news on plans for the season ahead. Meanwhile, Graeme and Rhys, plus Alex Lane, Jass McNeill and Alex Radevic, have joined Derek and Harvey Dellanzo on an expanded Committee with new roles

The Club has registered teams in the Glasgow Chess League and Dumbarton & District Chess League, and will also be running a 2022/23 Club Championship based on last season’s successful tournament. All competitive games will be graded by Chess Scotland and the Club will support new members to work towards a national rating.

Queens Park Chess Club

Another major item of news is: the Club has a new name. At its 2022 AGM, the Committee decided to change the name from Govanhill Chess Club to Queens Park Chess Club. 

The purpose of the change is to highlight our current home in Queens Park, to reflect the reality that our members are drawn from a number of communities around Queens Park, including Govanhill, Crosshill, Shawlands, Langside and Mount Florida, and to develop a link to a historic club with the same name, which started in 1873. 

The roots of both the historic and the current Queens Park Chess Club lie deep in Govanhill, and Govanhill will continue to be at the heart of our meetings and activities

Check out our in-depth report on the fascinating history of the original Queens Park Chess Club, produced with the generous assistance of Chess Scotland historian Alan McGowan, and the story of the new Club, which was established in 2019.

Historic Queens Park players faced World Champion Capablanca in 1919

With membership fees set at just £40 annually, and a £20 concessionary rate, we are confident Queens Park Chess Club will provide superb value for money, as well as a highly valuable and enjoyable opportunity to learn and socialise with other chess enthusiasts. 

We look forward to bringing a greater number of local people together to learn, play and appreciate the ancient game, and we hope to see you at a future meeting on Tuesday evenings in Queens Park from 30 August.

Social Media & Contact 

In addition, Queens Park Chess Club now has an Instagram profile where we will be sharing stories of our adventures throughout the season. Visit and follow here.

Queens Park Chess Club joined Instagram in August 2022

We have also updated our Facebook page to reflect the name change. The website domain name will follow suit later in the season.

For any queries about any aspect of Queens Park Chess Club, please contact Graeme at president@queensparkchessclub.com or Derek at secretary@queensparkchessclub.com