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YOU CAN WIN SOMETHING WITH KIDS !
So just what is 3Cs ? Yes, an often-asked question within the chess community throughout Britain - and even further afield - but exactly what is it; what does it mean, and why is it often spoken about in glowing terms when discussing factors that have been influential to chess in this country in recent years, as well as a beacon to which those responsible for taking the game forward into the future could - and possibly should - look towards ?
3Cs is just the name of a chess club - and yes, possibly the name itself is one factor why it might be more well-known than many others; no hint of a location as well as the mystery of just what is meant by it. Therefore let's begin by explaining both, which can be done by simply revealing the club's actual full name - "The Children's Chess Club of Oldham".
The club was formed in 1978, originally to provide local schoolchildren in the Oldham area with an opportunity to learn the game but which has since evolved into one of the major production lines of young talent throughout the country and with several of those home-grown players now competing regularly at the highest level, both nationally and Internationally. How many other clubs throughout the the country could currently field a team of players who have all progressed from their own junior ranks to challenge a side containing GM Stephen Gordon, IM Andy Horton, FM Adam Ashton; FM Daniel Abbas, FM Stuart Clarke, FM Alex Longson and CM Alan Walton ?
It is also testament to the principles which the club have always adhered to since its formation that the name of 3Cs, despite mainly fielding teams consisting of such genuine products from its own club ranks, is currently holding its own amongst the somewhat manufactured sides of titled players which portray to represent “local” clubs in the 4NCL and yet in 2017 qualified to represent England in the European Club Cup in Turkey – a feat described as like Oldham Athletic only using players from their own youth academy and yet progressing to take part against the financially superior heavyweights in the UEFA Champions League. Furthermore the club then repeated this achievement in 2018.
The club draws its members mainly from schools competing in the Oldham Primary Schools’ League, although every child is welcomed to the club. The name “Children’s Chess Club” is a constant reminder of their priorities – to encourage a far greater youth participation in the game irrespective of skill level. The club’s members are representative of all Oldham’s diverse backgrounds and cultures with the children happily competing on equal terms, either as a team representing the club or individually in various tournaments.
Stephen Rigby is still among the main organisers of the club and the driving force behind its continued development and success, with his aim to introduce chess into all of Oldham’s primary schools, whilst 3Cs’ chief coach Phil Adams along with Dale James head a group of dedicated club enthusiasts who all actively supervise chess coaching within various Oldham schools. Therein lies the crux of why 3Cs maybe appear to have succeeded where many other clubs have failed in both the recruitment and the success of junior players – the club members do not just wait for youngsters to come to them; existing members go out and offer their services to local schools in organising and supervising coaching sessions as an extra-curricular activity. Those children from the various schools are then invited to come to the 3Cs’ weekly club nights where they can engage with others who have a similar interest for the game. Then as their skill improves - and irrespective of their age - they are given frequent opportunities to play for 3Cs in the local “adult” leagues.
Furthermore, club nights don’t just consist of those in attendance playing a few games against each other, nor are they about simply teaching moves and tactics to the four or five various coaching groups taking place into which those with varying levels of skill are organised to ensure they get the correct level of instruction. The club also believes that if these children know more about the history and traditions of the game then it will add even more to their enjoyment and understanding of it. Photographs of every World Champion are on the wall of the 3Cs’ club, with details of their personal lives and achievements often relayed to its younger members whilst a vast library of chess literature is also available whenever required. Such items can be borrowed at will and just returned at any time in the future once any useful information has been gleaned. Yet again the club are convinced that if the children are treated at the club in the same way as the adults then they are more likely to repay the trust and respect afforded to them and thus want to continue their association with the club despite the many other attractions which the modern day world might offer.
3Cs have also been successful away from the board, with Stephen Rigby and the club's head coach Phil Adams having won the English Chess Federation’s “President’s Award” in 2009 and 2018 respectively for services to the game whilst the club itself has twice been honoured with the ECF “Club of the Year” Award (2006 and 2014) – the only club throughout the country to have won the trophy on two occasions.
All the hard work involved in organising the 3Cs' various teams as well as the club’s day-to-day business is purely voluntarily, including that done by many of the parents who the club actively encourage to assist in a variety of ways, hopefully also giving them a feeling that they too are a part of the club's success and of whom Tony Ashton, John Walton, Dave Monaghan, Alan Burke, Tim Horton, Ahmed Abbas and Tim Shanker all originally became involved with 3Cs simply as parents supporting their own children but are now regulars “behind the scenes”. So, why do it ? For the children’s sake ! Dedicated club members are convinced that playing chess brings great benefits to the children both educationally and socially. They also strongly feel that Oldham youngsters deserve the same opportunities as others and are fully capable of competing, proudly, as Oldhamers, with the very best, whether that be locally, nationally or internationally.
And yes, club members can be rightly proud to look around their premises at the various trophies and honours that have come their way, but that is not the ultimate aim of 3Cs .... far greater satisfaction is gained by seeing youngsters coming through the door on club nights – which often attract in excess of 60 members of school age - and simply enjoying playing chess.
Yes, you can win something with kids ... but first they have to be encouraged to do so.
Junior Coaching at 3Cs'
At 3Cs' weekly club nights youngsters are placed into an appropriate coaching group so they can receive the correct tuition in relation to their current level of play while they are also taught about the history and etiquette of the game. The more they understand; the more they enjoy.
Shown on the wall are photographs of every World Champion which are used in assisting our juniors to further understand the lifestyle and background which helped the players become such greats of the game and in the hope that the youngsters might also use that knowledge for their own progression, not only as a chess player but throughout their later life in general.
A library of chess material is also available for any of the 3Cs' members to borrow and to just return whenever its use may have been of benefit.
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The photographs below show some of the 3Cs' coaches in action at the club.
(l to r) Steve Rigby, Phil Adams, Dave Monaghan, Crystal Ashton
(Click on an individual photograph to show a larger image)
3Cs' World Champion
The 2008-10 Women's World Champion, Alexandara Kosteniuk (shown bottom right in the middle photo above), was also a regular player for 3Cs in the 4NCL..
The photographs below show Alexandara on her 3Cs' debut in 2003.
(Photos courtesy of Helen Milligan)
A further indication on how attending 3Cs can improve the chess skills of youngsters was shown by four out of the five age-group winners at the 2022 3Cs Junior Congress being players who attend the weekly 3Cs'coaching sessions. ... the other being a young boy who had just recently arrived in Britain from Ukraine.
IN THE BEGINNING ...
The report shown from 1977 includes one of the earliest references to the formation of an Oldham primary schools' chess league organised by Steve Rigby and Roy Williams.
(See the last two paragraphs of this report).
This league proved to be such a success and attracted a large number of pupils from all around the town that an idea was put forward to create a junior chess club so as to bring together the elite players from the area purely with the aim of assisting their development.
The following year, 1978, saw the formation of that club, named as "The Childrens' Chess Club of Oldham" but which is now more widely well known locally, nationally and also Internationally as 3Cs.
Oldham Evening Chronicle
More photographs of club nights at 3Cs where players are placed into various groups dependant upon ability and then given coaching appropriate for their level of play.
(Click on any photograph to see a larger image).
Since 3Cs' formation in 1978 the club headquarters had been at several locations before arriving at its current St.Edward's venue, which was formerly the parish church and school.
Having been unused for some time, the building was in need of some repair before 3Cs were able to move in, but thanks to the efforts of several people involved with both the church and 3Cs - especially Tony Ashton - the chess club began life at its new home in May 2009.
The work needed to improve the venue can be seen from the photographs below which show some of the areas prior to improvements taking place.
Click on any photograph to view a larger image.
3Cs OR NOT 3Cs ? ..... THAT IS THE QUESTION.
If you wonder what difference attending 3Cs makes in improving your or your child's chess then perhaps the following summary might be of assistance to you ...
The Oldham Schools' under-9s' and under-11s' teams played in the 2019 North of England chess championships, both qualifying for the national finals later in the year. However here is a breakdown of the players' scores showing the difference between those who attend the 3Cs' club and those who do not.
In a team of twelve the five 3Cs' players scored 10 out of 15 points available to them (67%) while the seven non-3Cs' players scored just 5.5 out of a possible 21 (26%).
A team of 20 included eight 3Cs' players who between them scored 19 out of a possible 24 points (79%) while the twelve non-3Cs' players scored just 17.5 out of a possible 36 (49%).
You can draw your own conclusions.
3Cs chess club continue their sponsorship of a young boy living in Gambia who had very little chance of either an education or climbing out of the poverty trap. It costs the club a total of just £20 per year - from funds donated by our club's own young players - to give hope and prospects of a better life for him and his family.
YUSUPHA DRAMMEH we believe was 7 years old when we began our sponsorship in 2015. The club receive updates from Abuko school where Yuspha attends whilst the collage of photographs, as pictured on the wall of the 3Cs club as a constant reminder to our young players of the assistance they are providing, shows the school and area where he lives.
On the right is a montage of photographs showing Yusupha which are on the wall at the 3Cs' club headquarters.