UK Junior Chess Academy

An online chess training programme for ambitious and enthusiastic young chess players (whatever their experience level).

A registered English Chess Federation Academy and member of the ECF Junior Development Pathway

Why Study Chess With Us?

We are Sarah and Alex Longson – a husband and wife team based in Cheshire with our two young children Isabelle and Tobias. We definitely know where you are coming from – as juniors we have both represented our country at chess, we have coached young chess players of all levels (school beginners through to European champions), organised the UK’s largest chess tournament (UK Chess Challenge) and are parents ourselves. Sarah, 2013 British ladies champion, regularly appears on TV and radio to discuss the latest chess developments.

We love chess and we love running the Academy – we’re building this to be the best junior chess training programme in the world and would love it if you can join us on that journey!

What do members receive?

Initial Chess Assessment

By completing a simple initial assignment we’ll be able to give an initial assessment of your child’s level and recommend an appropriate group.

Weekly Group Class

45 minute interactive sessions with an experienced coach. These sessions are hosted on Zoom and will cover an important chess topic whilst giving the student plenty of practise solving chess problems. Students are split into ability groups ensuring that the topic and level is appropriate for their current understanding.

Training Tournaments

Regular training tournaments hosted on (the best place on the web to play chess – and completely free)! Includes prizes for different ability categories.

End of Term Feedback and Assessment

At the end of each term students will be invited to complete an assessment (online) where we will be able to give them feedback on their current skills and whether they are ready to ‘move up a level’. This is entirely optional as we understand not everyone likes assessments!

Access to training materials and session recordings

All the classes will be recorded and available for playback in our ‘Training Hub’. We also have a large library of training materials for those students who want to do a bit more study outside of the classes.

Parental Support

Parents have unlimited email support on any chess related matter, whether it is book recommendations, advice on suitable tournaments or just a helping hand with how to deal with a painful defeat.

Plus Bonus Special Events

We regularly invite special speakers for Q&A sessions and ‘simul’ matches where students get the chance to challenge the coach.

How it works

  1. Sign up and receive instructions via email
  2. Complete a quick questionnaire so we know how best we can tailor our programme for your child
  3. We’ll send you a recommendation of which class is most suited for your child (though you are free to choose whichever class/es you like
  4. Join the classes (we’ll provide a one-click zoom link)
  5. Join the tournaments on lichess (full instructions provided)
  6. At the end of term complete an assessment for feedback on how you are getting on!

When are the classes?

We run 8 classes throughout the week. You are NOT required or expected to attend 8 classes a week! We recommend one or two classes per week.

We use our own custom ranking system to help students decide which classes are suitable for them. These are intended as a rule of thumb and it is perfectly possibly to attend ‘one up or ‘one down’ from your rank. We will also let you know what rank we think your child is during the initial assessment. >>> See ranks

For Summer 2024 term the weekly class schedule is:

  • Monday 17:15 > Deca (<600) – Tim Shanker
  • Monday 18:15 > Tera (1600 – 1999) – FM Jonathan Blackburn
  • Tuesday 17:15 > Giga (1000 – 1599)  – Head Coach Sarah Longson
  • Tuesday 18:15 > Mega (600 – 999)  – Head Coach Sarah Longson
  • Wednesday 17:15 > Giga (1000 – 1599)  – Head Coach Sarah Longson
  • Wednesday 18:15 > Tera (1600 – 1999)  – GM John Emms
  • Thursday 18:15 > Giga (1000 – 1599)  – GM John Emms
  • Friday 17:15 > Exa (2000+)  – IM Brandon Clarke

For Summer term classes run from Monday 15th April to Friday 26th July (with a two week break for half term week commencing 27th May). Throughout the summer holiday we’ll be running our online summer chess camps before the usual schedule recommences in September.


The Academy regular prize competitions – particularly during holidays – and recommends suitable tournaments to play on depending on the players rank.

Our coaches

We are proud to offer a passionate and diverse group of coaches, experienced teachers and curriculum planners who together plan and deliver our classes and training.

Sarah Longson

Sarah Longson

Head Coach

Head coach and 2013 British Ladies champion. Level 4 English Chess Federation Coach

Brandon Clarke

Brandon Clarke

International Master

Brandon Clarke – International Master and 2021 British Rapidplay champion. Over 10 years of chess coaching experience

Adam Hunt

Adam Hunt

International Master

Adam is an experienced coach and former junior international. He teaches chess full time at Woodbridge School

John Emms

John Emms

Grand Master

Respected coach and author, John has also captained the England Olympiad team

Nick Pert

Nick Pert

Grand Master

Nick is a strong Grand Master and experienced coach

Tim Shanker

Tim Shanker

Chess Teacher

Tim has many years experience working with groups of children in schools and teaching them chess basics.

David Howell

David Howell

Super Grand Master

David is a multi-time British Champion and presenter of the Champions Chess tour events

Danny King

Danny King

Grand Master

Danny is a Grand Master and an award winning presenter and author

Alex Longson

Alex Longson

Content Creator

FIDE Master and former England junior international. FIDE Trainer. Head of Curriculum Development.

Some of our Student’s Successes

Since 2017 many of England’s top junior talents have passed through the Academy and we have helped producechampions and medal winners at the following events

  • British Championships
  • UKCC Terafinals
  • World Schools
  • World Cadets
  • British Blitz

Academy Gold medallists at 2022 World Schools Championships, Rhodes

2022 U16 British Champion

2022 – UKCC U14 Runner Up

2021 – British Under 12 Champion

What our Members Say

ECF Academy is a great place to learn intermediate to advanced chess for children who are planning to get into serious chess. The coaching provided by ECF Academy is by experienced  and passionate people from the World of Chess.



Fantastic weekends of chess – very well organised. Sophie enjoyed them immensely. A big thank you to Sarah, Alex and Pauline and all the coaches for giving up so much of their time to make it such a success.



I am really pleased we discovered ECF academy for Reya when we did. The programme curriculum & execution is top notch.



Our daughter really enjoys the ECF Academy classes, puzzles, tournaments, evaluation of various chess positions and the lectures by experienced world-class chess speakers. Some of the classes/puzzles improved her to become a better chess player in a short span of time. Also, we have seen a vast improvement in her thinking abilities and reasoning skills.



14 Day No Questions Asked Money Back Guarantee

When you join the Academy on an annual plan you are fully protected by our 100% Satisfaction Guarantee. If you don’t feel like you’ve received value and you decide you want to cancel any time within 14 days of purchase, just let us know what the problem is by email. If we genuinely can’t resolve your problem then we’ll send you a prompt refund. No hassles, headaches or hoops to jump through.

We’re confident that you and your child will enjoy the Academy. In the unlikely event that you are not completely satisfied then we’ll refund you without any fuss – we won’t make you beg or invoke any silly rules or conditions.

Make Your Winning Move !

Join the UK Junior Chess Academy today and start receiving these great benefits:

  • Weekly classes including expert tuition from professional coaches (includes session recording)
  • Wide range of classes to suit different abilities and learning styles
  • Tournament games against peers of similar ability
  • Access to our bespoke training materials and assessments
  • OPTIONAL EXTRA: End of term assessment and training recommendations

Choose the plan which works best for you!


Most flexible
  • Cancel anytime
  • Most flexible

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How are the groups divided into ability level?
A: We use ECF (English Chess Federation) ratings where available. If a player doesn’t have a rating we will be able to allocate a group based on our initial assessment following signup

Q: What level is the Academy suitable for?
A: We coach players from complete beginner all the way to 2000+ rating (elite junior level).

Q: How many classes can I attend?
A: We recommend one or two classes per week. It is important to leave time for other chess activities such as playing and solving puzzles.

Q: Do you offer a free trial?
A: We don’t offer a free trial but we do offer a no fuss 14 day money back guarantee.

Q: Do you follow a set curriculum?
A: We have developed our own unique curriculum and all of our lesson plans are custom designed.

Q: What happens if I miss a class?
A: Each session is recorded and made available in our training materials library.