Category Archives: Dan Staples

Pupil Referral Unit and Chessity

I talked to teachers at a Yorkshire Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) today about ways of teaching their students.

Part of my role for Chess in Schools and Communities is to reconnect with schools we’ve taught in previously. We taught at this PRU a few years ago. I was really pleased to learn that chess is still going strong there. All 50 children across the two sites play chess every Friday afternoons.

Children referred to a PRU don’t tend to stay there for long so following our curriculum wouldn’t make sense. I showed them the following variants:

Pawn game
Rook game
Pirate chess
First check

I’m back there later in the term for a simul with the children.

I taught at a PRU in London. On my first day six big children (I was used to primary sized ones) came to the classroom. While they did sit down and we did ‘chess’ for a bit they soon got up and exited through the window. Not a great start but things improved!

Nigel encourages students to do regular calculation training. I’ve found Chessity an excellent resource for this and endeavour to do a daily practice. Their free app is useful.

This is a puzzle (that I got wrong!) that struck me as interesting.

Dan Staples

Botvinnik – Toran, Palma de Mallorca 1967

As with most of us my time is limited. My current chess practice involves solving Chessity daily tactics puzzles and following Nigel’s Endgame Course at his Tiger Chess website.

I was introduced to this excellent endgame through the course. This was instructive with regard to the importance of centralising the King. The move 22.Rxd5 kept the game alive.

Dan Staples

Advancing the Pawn without a Counterpart

My game below was played against the Metropolitan Police in New Scotland Yard which was a very interesting venue. The annotations are Nigel’s. The key things to take away for me were my risky Queen side castling and Nigel’s comments on my move 35.h4. He explained that 35.f4 was better and followed the ‘Capablanca rule’ in Chess Fundamentals that we should advance the pawn without a counterpart.

Dan Staples

Who’s Got The Bigger Machete

I’ve been having lessons with Nigel for many years and can heartily recommend having them. It is very interesting to examine the games you’ve immersed yourself in with someone with a higher level of understanding.

This was a game I played a few years ago against Ian Heppell of Wimbledon. It was a Caro Kann, an opening which I have struggled to play well and understand.

During the lesson Nigel commented that “as is often the case with your games, it comes down to who’s got the bigger machete”.

The key things for me to take away was that 6…Nxc3 was dodgy and 14….Ng6 was a better idea than advancing the a pawn.

Dan Staples

Everything Looks Like A Nail

It is interesting and useful to look through our games but can be rather uncomfortable too. The moves you decide are good during a game can often seem rather strange in the cold light of day.

In this game my Queen moves at 11, 12 and 13 look like I’m trying to create something out of nothing and are unnecessary and bad. White should have won this but Black produced a clever drawing knight tactic at the death.

My big problem in games is that while I can calculate well I do so too much and too often. Nigel frequently tells me that when you are always calculating ‘everything looks like a nail”. Korchnoi was a great calculator. He worked hard to reel in his tendency to think like a hammer in positions where calculation wasn’t called for – he had a mantra that he would repeat in such positions – “nothing to calculate, nothing to calculate”.

Dan Staples