My chess backstory

Sep 9, 2013, 2:23 PM |
A friend asked me how I started playing chess and how I got into coaching. Here's the answer.
I started playing when I was eight - but I can't remember what actually got me started. I read Bott & Morrison's 'Chess for Children' (and I would still recommend it, except that it uses the old descriptive notation, rather than algebraic - ie, P-K4 rather than e4). One of my earliest chess memories is playing black against my school teacher - see About Me under my Complete Profile for more.
When I was 11 I moved to Bournemouth School - a state grammar school (ie, publicly-funded but with an entrance exam) - and there was a lot of chess going on. The school had two teams in the local (adult) league and there were inter-house championships.
I played chess most lunchtimes for my first five years at school. There was a room dedicated to a lunchtime chess club and I took my sandwiches there - so I spent over an hour three days a week playing. I read books about opening theory and strategy and tactics - these included Harry Golombek's "The Game of Chess" and "Bobby Fischer teaches Chess"
During this time I had little formal chess coaching - I just played and read.
While a teenager I played around 50 competitive games a year - house matches; school matches; school championships; town and county championships; county matches and weekend tournaments. These were mostly at time controls of 24 moves in an hour or similar.
Looking back, I am not sure how much I actually understood about the game. It might sound bizarre to say that now - but after reading Reassess your Chess (a book by Jeremy Silman, an international master) I started to understand more about the gaps in my knowledge; I started to understand my weaknesses.
I stopped playing competitively at age 19 but returned for a few years in my early thirties - but not getting as good results as I did in my late teens.
I got into chess coaching when I was made redundant in 2009 from my job at a broker in the City of London. Inspired by "Kings of New York" - a book about chess in schools - I approached local schools offering my services as a chess coach. Three took me up on it and I also teach chess at my local council's summer programme.