On Wednesday 13th of March, we woke up at 4am to be driven to East London where Gawain, Malcolm and Sabrina were going to be live on BBC Breakfast at Ravescroft Primary School. The BBC crew was great, the presenter and the cameraman were both keen on chess and in between takes (5.45,6.45,7.45am)they engaged with the children!
You can watch the video below kindly put together by his mum, Tanya.
It was such an early start and probably even stranger as we’ve never been to East London before. You might think that’s weird but London being so huge, your side of “town” is a huge city in itself that most people never completely explore! Let alone heading over to the other side of town which can take 1 hour plus of travel time to do something there that you could do in your own backyard!
Around 9am, after all the interviewing and having the kids outside on the huge chessboard in the cold we headed to the Stratford Library where Gawain’s day would begin. His role I guess was to stand there and talk about his chess career while playing the occasional game. The kids were all very sweet and we both think that it’s such a fantastic initiative. Gawain had a “game” against Newham’s Mayor, Mayor Sir Robin Wales. Sir Robin is actually a keen chess player himself who played 3 Bb5+ against Ga. It ended in a mutual draw.
I was kindly asked by Nevil my Drunken Knights captain, if I would dress up as a Chess Queen. I said no of course, just joking not really wanting to I for some reason said yes and now there’s evidence all over my Facebook page! Apparently I’m the best looking chess queen there could’ve been so I guess I could’ve looked worse. All in all, the kids loved the costume and me waving frantically at them! It was great fun to be part of such a day.
Around midday, I had to head to work so I left Gawain to fend for himself. He had the afternoon “off” so came back home to rest before heading out to Morton’s for the launch party. I managed to join him there and when I arrived he was playing the Olympians Dame Kelly Holmes and Beth Tweddle blindfold, I grabbed his bottom but after a 30 second delay he reacted and realized it was me! Perhaps he was trying to construct the position in his head or he couldn’t quite believe someone would grab his butt. For some reason I notice when people don’t really play chess, they seem extremely excited that they’ve put you in check. I won’t name names, but something like 3 Bb5+ excited Gawain’s opponent so much, him saying that he can now say he’s checked a British Champion! I was a bit confused as his position kept deteriorating but every time he played a check he was overjoyed. Perhaps he didn’t quite understand that checkmate was needed to win. Or it could be like the variant, 3 checks and you are out!
I don’t think either Dame Kelly or Beth played chess but they were very sporting about the whole thing. Beth being an Olympian lived at East Village during the Olympics. That kind of reminds me of my own “Olympic” experience when in 2006 the Olympiad was held in Turin where they had held the Winter Olympics. I remember being so excited to go to Italy and a vivid memory which will probably never leave me is getting of at the wrong “Turin” stop, I guess the getting off at London Victoria instead of London Paddington, you are in London right . Cant be too far? But when you are 15 years old and can only say “Non capisco” being left by yourself with your teammates luggage is quite scary. I waited for about an hour and when no one came, I grabbed a taxi to the write Turin train station!
One person who could play chess is Edgar Davids. I had no idea who he was, I thought he was some rapper but that wouldn’t be true as I love hip-hop music. So after asking around, I found out he was an amazing footballer. He played a game against Ga and though I wasn’t watching, he could play!
He came along with an entourage and they were all very nice. We all spoke briefly about the importance of physical/metal conditioning when you are a sport’s professional. This is something I think chess players forget and it should be something people do every day.
I’m going to go for my first run tomorrow (why am I telling you this, because I guess admitting it online means I can’t back out! I’ve still not played 1 minute J) but I now also have a bike so I love to cycle (slowly) around London.
After such an exhausting day, we finished the day of with a kebab and chips from our local kebab shop. Yummy! But not something to eat every day. A definite treat after such a long, hard day.
We just want to say a big Thank You to Malcolm, Neville, Tao, Grace from W Communications and East Village for involving us in a fantastic event. Also, Thank you Ray Morris-Hill for some beautiful photos.