Learn with The Best

Help your child reach their chess potential!

World class trainers and speakers

Training materials focused on the student’s level

Develop a consistent and productive routine

Access to a friendly community which shares the same goals

About Us

The ECF Academy is England’s flagship training programme for ambitious young chess players. This membership programme is designed to support and nurture hard working chess playing families to help the child develop their talent and increase their enjoyment of the game.

All of us at the ECF Academy are lifelong fans of chess having played as children and through into adulthood. It is our desire to provide learning opportunities to our current generation of young chess players and help foster in them the same love of of lifelong learning and personal growth.

About The Programme

Monthly Study Materials and Training

Classic & Correspondence Chess

Live Quizzes and Assessments

Parent and Student Sessions with Top GMs

Access to Coaching Panel and Community

Monthly Study Materials and Training Programme

We set regular work for students to tackle at their own pace – there is a range of difficulty levels to cater for players of all levels.

  • Puzzles and exercises
  • Tips and ideas to work on various aspects of your game
  • Training positions to play out against computer or partner
  • Video solutions

Students will have access to the full library of content and will be able to work through things at their own pace and re-visit topics as necessary.


Organised ‘Classical’ and ‘Correspondence’ chess tournaments

Playing slower, “proper”, chess is key to improvement. We like to say that whilst rapid chess is a good tool to identify the stronger players, players get stronger by playing slow chess.

We are organising Classical and Correspondence informal tournaments to give students the opportunity to play slower games providing lots of good training material and opportunities to analyse quality games. Some coaches and strong adult players will be invited to play.


Live quizzes / assessments

A chance for students to test their knowledge in a semi-competitive setting with a live host and other students simultaneously taking part.


Live parent and student plenary sessions with selected presenters

Live group sessions with a panel of highly qualified hosts including world class players and coaches as well as our core Academy coaching panel.

Example sessions:

  • Student focussed sessions
    • Psychology and resilience
    • Crafting an opening repertoire
    • How to analyse your games
  • Parent focussed sessions
    • How to best support your child’s development
    • Growth mindset
    • How to choose which tournaments to play


Access to coaching panel and community

Students can submit questions to our coaching panel and parents have access to supportive community of other chess parents to share ideas and experiences.

Your Trainers

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Mentor on the Accelerator Programme run by the Chess Trust

Brother to IM Harriet Hunt – Britain’s strongest ever female chess player

1998 UK Chess Challenge Champion

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2013 British Ladies Champion

Regular England International

Director of UK Chess Challenge

Trustee of the Chess Trust

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2012 UK Chess Challenge Champion

8 years experience of chess coaching including 1 year in the USA and 2 years in Australia

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2005 UK Chess Challenge Champion

2nd place in 2007 and 2012 British Championship

4 x British U21 Champion

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World Class Grandmaster

3 x British Champion

Only the 4th British player to reach a FIDE rating of 2700

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Chess journalist, coach and organiser

For 17 years worked as a journalist and editor in Russia and Azerbaijan

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4 x winner of UK Chess Challenge

Highly experienced and respected coach based in London

ECF Gold Member Representative

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Former England junior international

Director of UK Chess Challenge

Don’t take our word for it…

The Academy was definitely challenging, but now, even through lockdown, I completed each session feeling I had a deeper knowledge of chess. My strategy in games, notation and skills have really progressed thanks to the professional teachers. I would recommend it if you want to push your chess to the next level




The ECF chess Academy was extremely fun: I am very passionate about chess. I learned about doubled, isolated and backwards pawns during the pawn structure lesson with Sarah. The quiz was great! I also made a lot of notes about what Luke McShane spoke about. I liked how Sarah and Alex went though the quiz questions and explained the answers. It was a fantastic day!!! Thank you Sarah, Alex and Jonny!


The Academy is a good opportunity to be coached by top players.  I feel comfortable suggesting ideas in the sessions.  The coaches make you think hard about every move and have given me tips that I’ve used in my own games.  I really enjoy the simuls against the titled players and the Saturday evening blitz tournaments.



I been attending the ECF Academy for the last three years and can say it is the best way to get into serious chess scene in England. You are taught by the best teachers in the country and get to meet like-minded people away from the competitive weekend tournament environment. I have really enjoyed and been challenged by the programme and the fun Saturday evening Blitz tournaments!








As a parent, who is not a chess expert, it‘s sometimes been difficult to know how best to support this hobby.  The ECF Academy appealed because it gave a structure – a carefully thought out blend of coaching weekends and individual study.  The programme has helped take my son’s chess to a new level, encouraging positional play and teaching him how to analyse his games.  Being together in a peer group has given him the confidence to play competently against children who he was previously in awe of. Most importantly though, the camaraderie is making him happy and fueling a love of the game.  The weekends have been amongst his favourite of the year.


It has been a pleasure to see the positive impact on my son’s chess since he started in the Academy, and particularly the enjoyment he gets from the game. The training sessions have been a rare opportunity for my son to learn with others equally enthusiastic about chess, be they fellow students or master coaches. The activities were well thought out and expertly organised, and included some events for us parents too. There has been work for the students to do along the way (homework!), but this was rewarded with constant encouragement and advice.






My son has benefited a lot from the Academy:

–          the ability to meet and play with friends of the same ability and love of chess, creating a virtuous feedback cycle.

–          the mix of homework and optional workgroup gave him a regular, structured way to study, boosting his motivation to progress in subjects he was lagging behind.

–          Meeting titled and famous players, and even playing simultaneous games against them

There are also useful sessions for both new and established chess parents, offering valuable advice.

We plan to stay with the Academy as long as he and his peers are stretched to be competitive internationally.



What are the main changes compared to 2021?


Rather than being structured around 4 x set training weekends the new Academy is an ongoing training experience with activities being organised on an ongoing basis. This enables students to vary their activity depending on other commitments and to pick and choose from the options available.


How does the Correspondence Ladder work?


Correspondence chess is where players have up to several days to make a move and therefore players don’t have to be live and present on the server at the same time. This format has gone out of fashion somewhat due in part to the popularity of faster formats – however we are of the opinion it remains an excellent training tool for serious players looking to improve.


Players will be ranked on a ladder (1st, 2nd etc) and will be able to issue challenges to other players on the ladder. If they win then they move up the ladder and move down if they lose! The format adds some friendly competition but the main purpose is to play some slow games against quality opposition that are worth analysing.


Will there be ‘over-the-board’ training events in 2021?


At the time of writing it is unclear when over-the-board activities will recommence due to Covid-19. However it is our intention to provide over-the-board training opportunities once it is safe to do so and that these will be available on an ad-hoc basis rather than as part of an annual programme.


How do the live quizzes work?


We use interactive quiz software so that students can see their score in real-time and also where they are in the leaderboard. The quiz is hosted by an experienced coach as part of an interactive lessons. As many students can take part together this is also a fun social as well as learning experience.


What is a plenary session?


Larger group sessions – these can be a range of formats including Q&As with experienced players, talks, interviews and game demonstrations. Participants can engage through the chat and the sessions will available to replay afterwards.


Is this an official England training programme?


Yes – this programme is a joint enterprise by the English Chess Federation (ECF) and UK Chess Challenge (UKCC).


Do ECF Academy members have a better chance of being selected to represent England?


England selection is a meritocracy and those players working hard to improve their game will naturally have a better chance of selection. Academy members will be extremely visible to the selection committee and the fact they can evidence that they are working hard to improve their game is of course a positive feature.


Do I have to be an English chess player to join?


No – membership is available to all junior players but ECF Gold members do receive a £20 discount on their annual membership.


How does the ECF discount apply?


Players who are ECF Gold members are eligible for a £20 discount. This is refunded back to the customer after 30 days if an annual membership is purchased or after the 12th monthly payment has been made assuming a monthly membership is purchased.


Do you offer smaller group coaching sessions?


The main programme does not contain small group coaching though we will be offering additional training sessions during the year if there is demand for it.


Do you offer 121 training?


We believe private 121 coaching certainly has its place – however the philosophy of the Academy is to provide quality learning and guided training opportunities at a fraction of the cost of private training. Whilst this is something we do not currently offer some of our coaches do provide private coaching and we will be happy to put you in touch.