Master Class Series : Grand Master Daniel Fernandez (2 May 2020)

With an eye to help raise funds for #ChessAgainstCovid, British Grandmaster Daniel Fernandez offered to do a Master Class lesson on GM Dan’s Best Games. The Master Class was pitched for aspiring chess players.  We had a total of 13 participants for the 3-hour lesson, including junior members of the Singapore versus Kazakhstan squad.

Initially, the participants were expecting a blow by blow demonstration of Dan’s sharp moves in his encounter with other GMs. To their surprise, Dan focused and explained in detail the concepts and nuances of various rook endgames instead and further emphasised on the importance of knowing them.
So, what has these got to do with Dan’s best games?
It was subsequently unveiled in the following games that he showed, the knowledge of such endings was vital in him prevailing over his illustrious opponents. In some examples, Daniel already had the endgame in mind even at the opening stages and so guided the fight towards the endgame structure he had envisaged.  So, before every game he showed, he would discuss and tutor the participants in how to deal with the endgame. This enabled participants to see the link between the openings/middlegames to the relevant endings and also drummed into them the importance of knowing the endgame, (the pet peeve of many juniors).
At the end of the Masterclass, I asked various participants about what they thought of it. Zachary Chia from Nanyang Primary School said he enjoyed learning about the rook endings. Two members of the Sgp vs Kaz squad, WCM Bernadette Kong and Gladys Koh were also happy they had attended this session. Bernadette liked the section on rook endings with the bishop pawn and the rook pawn and Gladys found the masterclass instructive and it had given her much insights into endgame knowledge. However, as the kids also noted, most of them were a bit intimidated in posing queries to the GM (he did assure them that he is very much homegrown here and the only difference btw him and us is his British accent) so only Julian Wang and the adult participants asked relevant questions. Likewise, Daniel also felt, from prior experience as well, that this is typical of our local children, as their natural instinct is to clam up when a foreign GM starts talking. In any case, I thought it’s amazing kids can sit through and be engaged during the full 3-hour lesson.
So thank you so much, GM Dan, for your Master Class and helping to raise more than $1000 for the #ChessAgainstCovid charity drive.
Also, we would like to thank a mystery sponsor, a chessmum who very generously sponsored 5 spots for the masterclass.  Thanks so much, Mrs K!
Last but not least, we would like to thank FM Andrey Terekhov, ‘the Ruskie Steamroller’, for facilitating the event, handling technical glitches and making sure the participants had no problems with the game demonstration.

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