40% off ChessJournal Premium in our Summer Sale

Hello ChessJournal Fans!

Just a quick one from me today to bring some exciting news in the normally quiet Chess month of August.  For the whole of August we will be offering ChessJournal Premium for a massively reduced 40%, down to just £2.99 / €3 / $4 a year.  If you are still uncertain then you can trial 3 months for just £1 / €1 / $1.5.

Longterm readers will remember that we ran a similar sale for the whole of August last year and it proved really popular with the community so myself and Matt thought we would make it an annual thing.

As I have previously blogged, we have a number of new features in the pipeline for ChessJournal that will expand our premium (and non-premium to be fair) offering.  However, the summer months are proving to be very busy times for both of us in terms of life (this weekend I am attending my third wedding in four weeks) so they will be a slight delay in bringing you these exciting changes.

Therefore, I suggest we all kick back, enjoy the sun (rain if you are UK based) and maybe take this opportunity to try ChessJournal Premium if its something you have been thinking about.

Thanks for reading and all your continued support.

Until next time.

Jon


ChessJournal is the companion app for club and tournament players. Store your games in the cloud for free and analyse them on the go on your phone or tablet. Set and track personal improvement goals, linking key games to them across the season. Leave your laptop at home the next time you visit that big tournament!

You can download ChessJournal on iOS and Android here:

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Club Profile #8: Downend & Fishponds Chess Club

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Hello ChessJournal Fans!

Its been a little under a week since the last club profile and today we are returning much closer to home with a post from the reigning Bristol & District League champions, Downend & Fishponds Chess Club. One of the largest and friendliest clubs in the Bristol league, Downend are an example of how to run a chess club well in recent years. Its fair to say they are the strongest club in terms of both chess ability (wining Division 1, Division 2 and Division 3 in the league) but also organisation with regular support for junior chess and last season they ran a remarkable 6 (?!) teams.  The Bristol league often runs in cycles of dominance for one club and Downed’s success is well earned in recent history.  Lets hear from Richard Livermore at the club…

Tell us a little bit about your club?

I have only been a member of Downend & Fishponds Chess Club for a little over 2 years, though my association with the club goes back to 10th November 1984 when Downend sent a team to my then club, Pentyrch, near Cardiff, for a match in a knock-out competition.

I cannot remember the result, though I suspect Downend won, but the match was played in such the most friendly manner (not always the case in chess) that a return match in Bristol was immediately arranged.

We have now played over 50 return matches, playing in Downend in the Autumn and Pentyrch in the Spring for the Mike Wood Bridge Trophy, named after the long time but recently deceased president of Downend & Fishponds Chess Club.

The home team always provides a generous buffet, and of course a most warm welcome, for the matches which are looked forward to by everyone involved.

This would not be a surprise to anyone who knows either club, as one could not meet more friendly or welcoming people in any walk of life than the members of both these clubs, and when I decided to start travelling across from South Wales each week to play in the Bristol league, it did not even enter my head to approach any club other than Downend, and their welcome to me into the club was all I hoped and expected it to be.

Can you tell us about the history of your club?

The club dates back to 1949, with far too much history for me to put in here, but this can be accessed by going to the club’s excellent, and, I mean excellent, website, www.downendchess.com.

(editors note – The Downend site contains a lovely collection of photos of the history of the club.  It looks like 1967 was a successful year just like 2017!  It must run every 50 years!)

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What kind of person plays for the club?

Downend enter 6 teams in the Bristol & District Chess League catering from the strongest league players in the top division, to beginners and juniors in the lower divisions.

We have 5 juniors, certainly not beginners, playing for the teams, who are improving at a frightening rate, and receive much help and encouragement from the club’s best players.

This help and encouragement is a benchmark of our club, with the strongest players making friends with, and drinking with (yes, we do that, too) everyone, even duffers like me.

Regarding our strength, we have just had a tremendous season, winning division 1 with our A team, division 2 with our C team, division 3 with our D team, and the knock out cup as well.

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What about our B team? Well, they finished 5th in division 1, proving themselves to be stronger then all but 4 of the other clubs’ A teams.

We receive great support from members of all the teams, with players not involved in a match that evening coming along to support those playing, even in away matches, and enduring the agonies of watching their club mates and friends struggling through tight endgames under time pressure, “Why doesn’t he play Ne5 and push the g pawn….?” and other agonised whispers.

Obviously, we have strong players at the top with 4 players performing at over 200 level this season, and amongst our 190’s a 199 (unlucky).

We also have a new Hungarian player who is a FIDE Candidate Master for our A team next year.

Well, we could do do with the help!

What is your favourite thing about the club?

Our home is at Downend Cricket Club, which provides a warm welcome (that word again), and in the lighter evenings the view over the cricket pitch is lovely.

It is, incidentally, the home club of Dr. W.G. Grace, probably the greatest cricketer of the 19th century, with interesting photographs and memorabilia in the club.

If this reads a little like a “travel brochure”, then I suppose it is.

It is written out of my genuine appreciation and enjoyment of this terrific club, and I urge anyone to visit.

Well a passionate description from a proud club member that I can only concur with Richard having played at Downend & Fishponds chess club on many occasion.  I particularly like how proactive Downend tend to be on the recruitment side of things.  They are never scared of looking further afield (for example, South Wales) or building strong links with the local University to hoover up talent when strong chess players graduate.  This very tactic has contributed more than a fair share of 190 and 200 ECF rated players in recent years.

How Downend & Fishponds fair next season remains to be seen as the healthy rivalry with my own club Horfield still exists.  We haven’t forgotten losing the league two years ago by 0.5 a board point! That one still hurts…

Until next time

Jon


ChessJournal is the companion app for club and tournament players. Store your games in the cloud for free and analyse them on the go on your phone or tablet. Set and track personal improvement goals, linking key games to them across the season. Leave your laptop at home the next time you visit that big tournament!

You can download ChessJournal on iOS and Android here:

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Club Profile #7: Newton Abbot Chess Club

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Hello ChessJournal Fans,

Today we swing down to the south west of England to talk to Newton Abbot chess club.  Despite coming from Bristol, I’m not very familiar with the chess scene further south so it was nice to get contacted by Trefor from Newton Abbot.  The story of Newton Abbot chess club is a really good example of reestablishing a local rural chess club.  These types of clubs typically suffer from smaller population bases to draw upon (unfortunately my own local league has lost several smaller clubs in the last decade – perhaps a topic for a subsequent blog post), so its refreshing to read about Newton Abbott’s approach.  My thanks to Trefor for taking part.

Tell us a little bit about your club

Newton Abbot Chess Club is a friendly and active club based in the South Devon market town of Newton Abbot. We meet every Thursday evening (7 p.m.) from September to mid-May at The Courtenay Centre in Kingsteignton Road, an excellent and comfortable central venue for good parking and catering facilities. Home matches in the Torbay League are held on Thursdays but away matches on other nights depending on the club and we also play in the Devon League whose matches take place on Saturday afternoons with a slower time limit.

What kind of person plays for the club?

We welcome members of all ages and standards of play. Our current membership of about 30 ranges in age from 9 to 90 and in grade from 50 to 200 ECF. We are well-known as a club which actively fosters juniors of whom we have 12-15 regularly attending and these juniors, when ready, are given plenty of opportunity to play in our league teams. A typical club evening will see 20 members in attendance and on evenings when there are two matches going on the room is full. We offer regular coaching sessions for both adults and juniors.

Our membership is diverse – in recent years we have had members from Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, India, Italy and Scotland. Locally, members travel from towns such as Kingsbridge, Modbury, Totnes, Torquay and Chudleigh.

We organise several internal competitions which run right through the season: Club Championship in 3 all-play –all sections of 8 players: junior championship: Rapidplay tournament (30 minutes each).

We have a very busy match programme – last year the club was involved in over 50 league matches. We compete in divisions 1 to 4 of the Torbay Chess League (and are current League champions) as well as the Rapidplay and Knock-Out Cup competitions. The Devon League also sees us in Divisions 1 to 4 and the Knock-out Cup and we currently hold the division 4 and Knock-Out Cup trophies.

Can you tell us about the history of the club?

The club is quite young – it was founded in 2005 (though there had been two previous incarnations in the distant past). The current secretary and founder felt that the town was so central in South Devon (and had good road links) that it had a good chance of attracting players from a wide area and this has proved to be the case.

We have had some considerable success since our founding: three times Devon League champions and multiple times Torbay League champions. However our greatest moment came in 2015 when we won the ECF National Club Championship (Major Section) in Birmingham.

Several years ago we had a very enjoyable visit from Grand Master Keith Arkell (a resident of nearby Paignton) who gave an enjoyable simultaneous display against 20 of our members.

We have a number of strong players with seven current members of Devon County teams including four members of the Devon team which won the ECF Under 180 title in July 2017. In addition two club members (Stephen Homer and Trefor Thynne) represented England Seniors in the World Team Championships held in Crete in April-May 2017. We are also lucky to count both the Devon Ladies’ Champion (Jacqueline Barber-Lafon) and West of England Ladies’ Champion (Nandaja Narayanan) among our membership. Something else of which we are proud is that the Presidents of the Devon County Chess Association (Paul Brooks) and Torbay League (Andrew Kinder) are active members and organisers in our club.

Who are you fiercest rivals and why?!

Our closest and most long-standing rivalry is with neighbours Teignmouth Chess Club though we have dominated encounters in recent seasons as their membership has somewhat aged while we have fostered juniors. In any one season there are usually around twenty matches between the clubs at various levels. We also have friendly rivalry in various divisions with other clubs such as South Hams (Kingsbridge), Plymouth, Exeter and Exmouth.

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One of the highlights of every season comes at the end of October when we act as hosts for the annual Devon Team Quick-Play competition. This attracts around 12-15 teams of four for a fast-moving afternoon of quick-play chess (12 minutes per player). Great fun!

News of all our activities can be found on our dedicated webpage on the CHESSDEVON website: www.chessdevon.org.uk.

What is your favourite thing about the club?

We feel that we have reconciled two objectives which are not always easily compatible; to have a strong and serious level of play for those who want it while remaining friendly, open and welcoming to new or lower-graded players. We are lucky to have an excellent venue and would welcome a visit from anybody wishing to try us out or even just passing through the town.

Of all the club profiles I have covered so far I think its fair to say that Newton Abbot should be considered an excellent example of a Pheonix club rising from the ashes.  In just 12yrs they have established themselves as a thriving club with an active presence in their local chess community.  They wisely point to the act of supporting junior level play as a major contributor to their club in recent years.  Something we have seen in other successful clubs at the moment. I think any smaller club not located near a major city could take serious inspiration from the approach of Newton Abbot.

Until next time

Jon


ChessJournal is the companion app for club and tournament players. Store your games in the cloud for free and analyse them on the go on your phone or tablet. Set and track personal improvement goals, linking key games to them across the season. Leave your laptop at home the next time you visit that big tournament!

You can download ChessJournal on iOS and Android here:

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Club Profile #6: Camberley Chess Club

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Hello ChessJournal fans!

The requests for club profiles keep coming in.  Im really glad the community is engaging with this series of articles.  Im certainly enjoying it and it makes a change from discussing the usual “White to mate in 3 moves” posts that normally litter most chess blogs. Nothing against that type of post per se but it does get a little dry after a while (usually sack a queen is the answer). Anyway I digress…

Camberley Chess Club has the unique distinction of being one of only three chess clubs I have ever played at.  Ten years a go I was seconded on business to Camberley and used to pop down to the club for friendlies over the summer months.  Im glad to see that the Grob wielding maniac that took me apart a decade a go is still causing chaos and confusion! Lets hand over to John Upham from Camberley Chess Club who I conducted this interview with.

Tell us a little bit about your club

Camberley Chess Club is a relatively young club formed in 1972, using for many years the private and very spacious Camberley residence of three times, British Ladies Champion, WIM Patricia Anne Sunnucks in Brackendale Close.

Having retired from a colourful military role Anne cheerfully ran BMS Chess Supplies in the 1970s and 1980s always having multiple copies of the latest titles from B.T. Batsford Ltd. on a large number of shelves and Yours Truly spent far too much pocket money and student grant (£300 per term) on them!

As well as Captain Sunnucks one of our formative and most loyal players was Britain’s first (1975) correspondence Grandmaster, Keith Bevan Richardson who passed away in May of 2017. We have organised a one day rapidplay memorial tournament in his honour for the “Glorious Twelfth” of August 12th, 2017 at our club venue.

Where are you based?

Since 1982 we have met (almost) every Tuesday night throughout the year at Camberley Baptist Church, 15, Frimley Road, Camberley, GU15 3EN where we have use of a match room plus a club room for those not playing in league matches. We are active “out of season” running a club championship, club nights and coaching evenings sharing the famous motto of the Windmill Theatre : “We never closed”.

We have use of a kitchen but, not a bar (!) however, following club nights, we often retire to a nearby watering hole that we have donated chess sets to. Until recently, The William IV Tavern was adjacent now converted to a Co-Operative convenience store.

How many players do you have?

A small revival of fortunes has brought in new members bringing us up to around thirty members with a now proactive Membership Secretary constantly scouting for more.

What league or division do you play in?

A number of our teams play in the Berkshire League and in the Surrey Border League in both divisional competitions and knockout competitions. Over the years we’ve managed to get our name on every trophy in these leagues at least once. Juniors are “bloodied” in the lower divisions and brought into the higher teams as they develop.

What kind of person plays for the club?

Almost all members are keen amateurs from Camberley and surrounding areas with some from as far as Reading, Guildford and Newbury choosing to play for us rather then, for them, a more local club : we must be doing something right !

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We have players ranging from over ECF 200 to less than ECF 50 providing teams for any and all levels of experience and ability. We try and recruit players from anywhere and everywhere including U3A, libraries, schools (primaries and secondaries plus home schooled children).

Do you have any titled players? How diverse is your club? Do you have room for juniors for example?

Before relocating to Guildford, IM Andrew Martin was a key member of our first teams
Two club rooms in one venue allows a separate area for juniors to play and be coached. Many of our more mature members prefer a peaceful location for their club night. Refreshments are free with a fully equipped kitchen available.

One of our longest standing members is Professor of Food Science at The University of Reading and played “normal” chess before attending an event run by IM Michael Basman. Ever since the 1980s, Prof. Gordon Birch has bamboozled his opponents with The Grob (1.g4) and, for total consistency plays The Borg (1…g5) at every opportunity. Indeed, I have witnessed a bizarre game between the late Joe French and Prof. Birch which started 1. f4 g5 ! Suffice to say that this line has not been examined by New in Chess.

In a Bell Trophy match that I captained Gordon was paired with a Bracknell player who also plays The Grob and I was hoping for a 1. g4 g5 start to the game but, instead they asked NOT to play each other and the chess world was robbed of the chance to witness a symmetrical Grob for the first time !

Who are you fiercest rivals and why?!

Crowthorne chess club is geographically close and many members are also Crowthorne members. Every match with our friends is fiercely contested but usually finishes in a local watering hole ! Both clubs have existed for a similar time and have an overlapping catchment area.

We like to beat Guildford Chess Club as often as we can since they are much larger in membership terms and have existed for around three – four times as long but, just as with Crowthorne all matches are in good spirit whatever the outcome.

What is your favourite thing about the club?

There is a great comradery amongst friends including much banter and the like during club nights. Blitz chess is highly popular and we like to help each other improve our chess standard. Members take it turns to do coaching presentations.

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If only we had a bar to have a view from or of ! The membership fee is not especially cheap but we feel that our venue makes the fee worthwhile. Juniors pay £25 per year and this is subsidized by the adult membership.

We like to get involved with the local community and have run several promotional events in Camberley and Farnborough. The Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme pushes it members our way and we are happy to take them on for accreditation.

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Several members either are already or are become ECF Accredited Coaches and teach in local schools. Members are active as officers of local and national chess organisations allowing as to have our influence on local and national chess politics.

Having celebrated our Forty Fifth Anniversary in 2017 we look forward to our 50th in 2022 ! Thank-you for allowing us to talk about our club.

Thank you John!  Another cracking insight to this medium sized club based near the M3 (I enjoyed my time at Camberley Chess Club, I did not at any point in time enjoy the nearest motorway).

The more of these club profiles I pull together the more themes start to emerge.  I think in a months time I will step back and pull together a summary blog post on the common challenges as well as traits that make clubs successful. Also perhaps we should have a vote on the blog on a very important aspect of British Chess – “Should a club have a bar? My own club Horfield seems to have survived without a bar on its current premises since 1984! Astonishing quite frankly!

As always, I hope you have enjoyed this post and do continue to share it far and wide with any league chess aficionados you know.

Until next time

Jon

P.S. Me and Matt are pulling together a big new feature called “Chess Calendar” in the next month, ahead of the new season.  I’ll blog about it soon but if you have any burning feature requests or comments on how your club schedules and plans fixtures then now is the time to get in touch – jon@chessjournalapp.com


ChessJournal is the companion app for club and tournament players. Store your games in the cloud for free and analyse them on the go on your phone or tablet. Leave your laptop at home the next time you visit that big tournament!

You can download ChessJournal on iOS and Android here:

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googleplay

 

How to increase chess club membership

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Hello ChessJournal fans!

On todays blog I want to return to a topic I have spoken about before and also what is becoming a theme in recent weeks, digital marketing of chess clubs.

I previously wrote about the dearth of digital skills at most chess clubs in my article on The Top Five British Chess Club Websites.

However this week I started to notice a trend:

Finally at the start of June I posted a call to arms to the Bristol & District Chess league about the state of many clubs web presence, the declining trend in membership in the last 25yrs.

However, all the evidence seems to suggest that the popularity of chess is on the rise. America is seeing a resurgence and online platforms have skyrocketing memberships (18 million players on Chess.com?!). Perhaps most noticeable is the additional activities online, beyond just playing games, that are proving very popular such as the excellent YouTube channel from GM Simon Williams (19,000 subscribers) or the fantastic range of podcasts that are emerging such The Full English Breakfast (150,000 downloads) or the Perpetual Podcast by Ben Johnson. People online are not just playing chess, they have a serious interest in getting better at ‘Over the board’

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So why are some clubs struggling with membership? Lets think about some numbers for a moment.

Just imagine…

Chess clubs across the UK obviously vary in size but lets break them into three categories:

  • Small: Less than 10 regulars. They probably have a single team that they field in a local league. They probably struggle to find replacements if anyone is unavailable in a given week.
  • Medium: 18-25 regulars. A good size club who can field an A, B and probably C team in a local league and also have room for some strength in depth.
  • Large: Up to 40 regulars. Might have up to five teams in a local league and are able to cater for all standards of chess. Most likely based in a city and due to the size of the club probably have regular friendly nights or training sessions from the resident titled player.

Lets use the above categorisation as a starting point. Imagine if your club had 20% more members?

“Jon mate you are crazy!”

Ok, lets part the skepticism and run with this for a moment. From experience, I think its fair to say that an additional 20% of members would be a massive help to clubs by:

  • Providing the additional strength in depth so the fear of a drop out doesn’t always result in a default board.
  • Perhaps allowing the club to field that elusive second team that you have wanted to field for the last three seasons;
  • More subs obviously lessening the financial burden that some clubs feel.

Using our chess club sizes above what is an additional 20% membership:

  • To a small club it is 2 people.
  • To a medium club it is 3 – 5 people
  • To a big club it is 8 people.

Is it just me or do those numbers not seem that scary when you consider the booming numbers that the chess community is seeing online and in other countries? Now lets looks at some numbers from a digital recruitment perspective.

Digital Chess Club Recruitment

So the drum that I have been banging recently consists of four premises. Chess clubs in the Uk (but also around the world) need to:

  • Have a clean tidy professional looking website that is optimised to work on smaller devices like mobile phones and tablets (over 50% of traffic now comes from mobile phones)
  • The contact details for the club must be ridiculously easy to find. Too many clubs hide their contact details, don’t have any (?!!) or protect themselves with ridiculous anti-machine CAPTCHAs
  • Have an active presence on social media such as Facebook page, Twitter profile or ideally both.

Six weeks ago I was made webmaster of Horfield & Redland chess club in Bristol, UK. Myself and friend immediately set up a Facebook page and also a nice clean responsive website. Despite not being massively active in terms of blogging or social media (less than 1hr a week), here are some numbers:

  • Per week we are receiving an average of 59 unique visitors to the club website
  • We are receiving an average of 213 page views or 3-4 per visitor
  • We have had 7 enquiries from potential new members asking to join the club.

To stress again, all of these activities are with a relatively low amount of effort or cost. The Horfield & Redland website cost a grand total of £18 to set up and took less than two hours.

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The Bristol & District Chess League runs September to May which means in the summer months a lot of clubs consolidate and just play friendlies. Now with 59 unique visitors a week for 12 weeks over the summer that is 708 visitors before the start of the next season. As a medium sized club to increase our membership by 20% we are only looking for 5 new players or in digital chess club recruitment terms, less than 0.7% of the total visitors to our website!

These are not scary numbers people! They are eminently achievable.

What are the next steps?

If you have made it this far then I hope by now you can see that I do not believe it is hard to increase chess club membership if the amateur chess community was willing to put some effort into the digitisation of its marketing efforts.

Across the country, hundreds of chess clubs are run by hard working, diligent volunteers who perhaps do not have the expertise or know where to start with setting up and looking after a website or social media page. But there are shining examples out there to follow.

Battersea Chess Club and Hammersmith Chess Club are both excellent examples of hard working chess clubs from a digital marketing perspective. They regularly publish articles, videos and games that really want to make you visit the clubs and become a member. If you are part of a chess club and do not know where to begin with digital then you could do a lot worse than start there.

Finally, I often hear chess players lament the growth of chess online impacting league or “over the board” chess. I disagree. Both can exist happily side by side.

Online is not a threat, it is an opportunity.

ChessJournal Update

In other news, myself and Matt are busy planning the next release for ChessJournal App. We are currently exploring some requests and feature ideas around a “Chess Calendar” for storing and recording all of the tournaments, league fixtures and coaching / training sessions for a given season. Its early days but if you have any thoughts on what you might want this feature to provide then give me a shout.

Thank you for reading and all your continued support. We can do this!

Cheers

Jon


ChessJournal is the companion app for club and tournament players. Store your games in the cloud for free and analyse them on the go on your phone or tablet. Get statistics for your season and set and track personal improvement goals. Leave your laptop at home the next time you visit that big tournament!

You can download ChessJournal on iOS and Android here:

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The Top 5 British Chess Club Websites

 

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Hello ChessJournal fans,

Its been a little quiet on the blog as we have waited to see what the reaction to ChessJournal v2.0 would be but also because I’ve been busy running email campaigns out to as many chess clubs as I could find!

We don’t have a large marketing budget here at ChessJournal HQ (thats why you should tell all your friends about us and share this blog post everywhere) so I have manually contacted the club secretary of over 400 chess clubs in the UK, Republic of Ireland and Canada.  As a result I am becoming very well acquainted with the standard of digital design in the amateur chess club scene around the world…

Some chess club websites are great, some not so great.  When just looking at the British chess club scene it is obvious that many well established chess clubs obviously set up their websites in the mid 90’s and have not touched them since.  This is understandable given the pace of change in digital (for those that don’t know, working in digital is my day job) and that running a chess club is very much an amateur activity.  However, in my long slog through every British chess club website I was astounded by three common pitfalls that a lot of clubs are making:

  • Expired Domains: Kind of fundamental to running a chess club website is to actually have a working website in the first place.  I would argue that the number of broken links or expired domain names across all British chess club websites I visited was around the 10-20% mark.  Im pretty certain these clubs still exist but it must be very difficult for potential new members to contact them.
  • Missing or hidden contact details: Assuming the website was actually working, I was again astonished in 2017 how many chess clubs did not have clear and obvious contact details (telephone or email) for potential new members to get in touch.  I noticed how many clubs were obviously fearful of unwanted spam by either posting broken email addresses deliberately  (e.g. jon – at – chess journal.com) or using layers of CAPTCHAs that were unreadable to even the human eye.  Essentially  as a new visitor to (I’m afraid to say) the majority of British Chess Club websites, I often had to work very hard to get in touch.
  • Not suitable for mobile: In 2017 many modern websites receive over 50% of their traffic on mobile devices.  Again the lack of modern design skills or web templates in the British chess club scene meant that visitors to these websites on mobile phones had to work very hard to use them. Often having to view text very small or rely on pinching and zooming to find poorly designed links.

I realise my above points might sound overly negative but I trust by now that regular readers know that my heart is in the right place and I really want the amateur chess club scene in the UK to thrive.  The three points I make above would go a long way to helping potential new recruits join chess clubs across the country.  Right now , I suspect many clubs don’t realise what a difference a good website design could do to their membership.

It wasn’t all bad however! On occasion I would stumble across a club that had obviously invested in its web presence.  I thought I would pull out in my opinion the top 5 chess club websites in the UK:

  1. Jersey Chess Club: Well done Jersey! In my opinion the best chess club website I found in my long search to contact club secretaries. Clean, modern and responsive for mobile devices. Clear navigation and prominent contact details. I felt the design of Jersey’s website had a touch more class than other top five entrants who were more clean and simple. http://www.jerseychessclub.com
  2. Glasgow Polytechnic Chess Club: An absolute delight of a chess club website from this active club in Scotland.  Great layout, clear links, works fantastically on mobile and a nice nod to the Lewis Chessmen. It was very close between Glasgow Poly and Jersey but I think Jersey just nick it! A close run thing across the entire length of the British isles! http://glasgowpolychess.weebly.com/contacts.html
  3. Hammersmith Chess Club: A really nice designed site that is clean and clear with not just prominent contact details but also upcoming events which really made you want to visit the club. Links to a vibrant social media presence also helped raise Hammersmith into second spot for me. http://hammerchess.co.uk
  4. Battersea Chess Club: Again a nice clear web template with prominent navigation and contact details.  Uses a nice responsive template that adjusts to whatever device a new visitor is using and my favourite part was how new and fresh the content was on the site. http://www.batterseachessclub.org.uk
  5. Forest of Dean Chess Club: Gatecrashing into the top five, this website does exactly what a small chess club needs.  A simple one page website with contact details that reach through your phone screen and hit you in the face! Admittedly the webpage is not optimised for mobile but its such a simple site that this matters little as all the immediate information I need is right in front of me. For a small club this is exactly what you need. A pleasant surprise in my quest to visit every chess club website in the UK. http://www.fodcc.org.uk

A couple of honourable mentions must also go to Newport Chess Club in Shropshire (http://www.newportchessclub.com) who for a moment I thought would win until I realised that the website was so heavy that it took about five minutes for every luxurious page to load.  Looked great just very hard to use effectively, a shame. So close! Also Brighton & Hove Chess Club (http://www.brightonandhovechessclub.org) have made a great effort. Great looking site that captures the essence of Brighton and the beach.  Unfortunately its almost impossible to find the contact details which in my opinion is kind of fundamental. But a much stronger design effort than the lions share of British chess club websites.

So there we are folks.  Whilst I probably haven’t visited every single chess club website in the UK in the last 4 weeks, I certainly feel like I am a knowledgeable authority on the standard of digital design in the British chess club scene.

In other news, its been a month since v2.0 of ChessJournal launched so here is a massive thank you to the hundreds of wood pushers who have downloaded and registered with ChessJournal so far.  A special thank you to all the Facebook comments, emails and tweets we have received telling us how to make ChessJournal even better.  Myself and Matt have already scoped out a number of changes based on your feedback and we aim to deliver v2.1 to you all very soon. I will blog about all the new features being added in the next release as soon as I can.

If you haven’t downloaded and registered with ChessJournal yet then visit our main website here:

http://chessjournalapp.com

I hope you have enjoyed my rambling, tongue in cheek journey on today’s blog!

Until next time

Jon


ChessJournal is the companion app for club and tournament players. Store your games in the cloud for free and analyse them on the go on your phone or tablet.  Leave your laptop at home the next time you visit that big tournament!

You can download ChessJournal on iOS and Android here:

applestore

googleplay

What you get in a ChessJournal Membership

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Hello ChessJournal fans!

Well its been just over a week since we launched version 2.0 of everyones favourite chess players diary. Myself and Matt have been delighted with the response so far. Across the App Store and Google Play we are averaging a 4.43 (out of 5) star rating and I’m getting lots of lovely emails from my fellow wood pushers!

One of the biggest changes in v2 of ChessJournal was the move to a subscription model.  A few people have questioned whats included with the different membership levels so on todays blog I thought I would outline the different levels of membership. Here we go:

Free Membership

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ChessJournal is free to download and create an account.  With the free level of membership the following features and benefits are included:

  • Unlimited storage of your competitive ‘over the board’ games in the cloud;
  • Inport and export PGN of your games to and from your personal ChessJournal;
  • Built in engine to use on all your games;
  • Statistical breakdown of your performance across competitive seasons;
  • Create personal improvement goals that you can track and link important games to;
  • Share your games via email, Twitter and Facebook;
  • Search functionality for your whole ChessJournal.

Premium Membership (£4.99 / $6.50 / €6.00 per year)

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Becoming a premium member of ChessJournal unlocks the following:

  • Ability to analyse key variations and save interesting lines with your game;
  • Annotate your games with your thoughts and lessons learned;
  • Export and share your annotations and variations via email, Twitter and Facebook.

Becoming a premium member allows you to take your ChessJournal to the next level by enabling a deeper level of self study and learning.  Here is a link to an example of a fully annotated game that I played in the Bristol & District League recently:

Jon Fisher (1788) vs. Richard Johnson (1930), 25th April 2017

My team and club mates enjoyed watching me wriggle out of that one!

Our Premium subscription offering will be getting expanded in the coming months. I will be blogging more info here in due course.

Why choose ChessJournal?

So there we are! Even with a free membership I hope you can see the value of starting your own personal ChessJournal with us.  ChessJournal offers you the ability to access and study your ‘over the board’ games whenever, wherever and on a convenient device to you (leave your laptop at home next time you play a tournament!). Even time poor amateur players can now find the time and opportunity to study using ChessJournal!

The focus of learning from your own mistakes and patterns of play, will we hope start to yield real benefit to improving, aspirational, amateur chess players.  Anecdotally within the ChessJournal community (from v1.0) I have received reports of players improving up to 100 ELO (approx. 15pts in ECF money) after using ChessJournal for a season.  I myself have achieved a rating increase of 98 ELO this season.

So thats it for this weeks blog.  My chess club, Horfield & Redland, completed the league this week so I will probably write an analysis of my season soon.  Until then thanks for reading and keep those nice reviews coming on the App Store and Google Play!

Cheers

Jon


ChessJournal is the companion app for club and tournament players. Store your games in the cloud for free and analyse them on the go on your phone or tablet.  Leave your laptop at home the next time you visit that big tournament!

You can download ChessJournal on iOS and Android here:

applestore

googleplay

 

Preparing to launch…


Hello ChessJournal fans!

This week me and Matt have made excellent progress on finalising key development tasks for the launch of ChessJournal Pro. At this stage we are aiming for an April launch simultaneously on both iOS and Android.

I am going to keep the full list of new features and changes quiet until it is actually available to download (if only to make sure everything we want to give you lucky people actually makes it into the final app!). However it is fair to say we are both excited and see a real step change in the ChessJournal offering!

Today I wanted to let you regular readers know that in preparation for launch, we have removed ChessJournal v1.4.5 for download from the App Store. As I have previously blogged, ChessJournal: Pro Edition will be an entirely new app and proposition. I want to extend a massive massive thank you to the hundreds of wood pushers who have downloaded the original ChessJournal and given myself and Matt so much valuable feedback. We really hope you early adopters can see many of your comments factored into ChessJournal: Pro Edition. 

Oh and yes, the import game feature is working lovely 🙂

In the ‘over the board’ world this week I was asked to fill in on bottom board in div 1 of the Bristol league. I was pleased with a solid draw against a stronger opponent but unfortunately the team lost in a combination of blunders and time scrambles (from both teams). It was widely agreed by both parties that whoever won, it certainly wasn’t chess!

Thanks for reading and stay posted for more exciting news in the coming weeks!

Cheers

Jon 

Director of Bizarre Opening Choices