Chess coach has turned club into kings not pawns

Date published: 09 September 2010

A PASSIONATE chess player who has inspired countless Oldham youngsters to make their mark in the chess world has been nominated for a Pride in Oldham award.

Steve Rigby (60), from Delph, has helped organise the 3Cs (Children’s Chess Club) in Oldham for the past 30 years.

Around 60 children attend weekly club nights at St Edward’s Church Hall, in Lees, with many competing nationally and internationally.

Mr Rigby coached Oldham’s very own grandmaster, Stephen Gordon, from Shaw, who was ranked ninth in the UK while he was still at school. Not only that, but the 3Cs was named Club of the Year in 2006 by the English Chess Federation (ECF), and Mr Rigby received the ECF President’s award for outstanding service to chess last year.

Alan Burke, whose son plays at the club, nominated Mr Rigby.

He said: “The club was formed when chess clubs were not too keen in accepting children into their midst, so Steve decided to form a new club to allow local youngsters to learn the game.

“Many of the youngsters who Steve first nurtured now play regularly for the club in the local adult leagues, and 3Cs has won the Manchester league championship for the past eight years. It isn’t just the success that Steve craves. It is also the pride in having Oldham at the top of the tree.

“He insists that Oldham play as themselves instead of joining with Lancashire or Greater Manchester during the county championships — and more often than not, Oldham finish in a higher position than both of those counties.”

A shocked Mr Rigby, former head teacher at Friezland Primary, Greenfield, and Christ Church Primary, Denshaw, said of his nomination: “I’m very surprised. I’ve had an awful lot of support and help from people and I’ve just got on with the whole promotion of the club.

“I’ve always taken a lot of pride in the fact that Oldham can stand in its own right.

“I still have ambition and drive for the club and would like to see more and more being done with chess in schools across Oldham.

“Chess is the one activity that inspires independence and discipline, it is an international language.”