Accelerator Programme

Established by the Chess Trust in 2018, the Accelerator Programme (‘the Programme’) is a supported chess development programme available only to England’s top junior chess talents (under the age of 18 years) and is on a selection-only basis. The main Programme lasts for 12 months followed by a 6-month reduced support package. Students showing exceptional progress may be invited to continue the Programme for a longer duration.

Places on the Programme are strictly limited.

Content of the Programme

a) Regular contact with allocated mentor (plus additional support from wider team where required)

b) Establish personal development plan with the mentor
The mentor and student will work together to craft a development plan and framework by which to guide their ongoing work

c) Develop good working practices
The mentor is to instill in the student strong working practices that will benefit the student long term. All the above is of course to be tailored to the specific personality and tendencies of the student.

d) 2 x training camps at physical locations
Group sessions with support from elite international players

e) Support at selected international events (at the Programmer’s absolute discretion)
Assistance with preparation before and during

f) Recommended reading/viewing list
For example, recommended books, articles, videos etc for students, parents and coaches

Programme Mentors

GM John Emms
John is a highly experienced player, coach and author. His peak rating is 2586 and he tied for first place in the 1997 British Championship. He captained the English Olympiad team in 2002 and coached the Women’s team at the 2004 Olympiad. He won individual gold and team silver medals at the 2018 and 2019 World Senior Team Championships. He has been part of the ECF coaching team at many World and European Youth events. He has written over 20 highly-regarded books and is considered an authority on opening preparation.

IM Adam Hunt
Adam is a talented International Master and is a full-time chess coach at Woodbridge School, where he has worked for 15 years. He has acted as Head of Delegation for England junior teams at two World U16 Olympiads and as a coach at three World Youth events and a European Youth event. He is an accredited FIDE coach and a member of the ECF Academy coaching team. His playing career highlights include two Grandmaster norms and a peak rating of 2466. He is the author of Chess Strategy – Move by Move by Everyman Chess.

Current Programme Students

The age categories are all based on FIDE international event criteria

Bodhana Sivanandan – Under 8

Kushal Jakhria – Under 8

Zoe Veselow – Under 9

Ruqayyah Rida – Under 11

Elis Dicen – Under 13

Jude Shearsby – Under 13

Theo Khoury – Under 13

Kenneth Hobson – Under 14

Shreyas Royal – Under 14

Nina Pert – Under 15

Aaramavudhan Balaji – Under 18

Selection Process

Selections are made by the Selection Committee who consider a variety of factors including –

  • Quality of games
  • Rating to age ratio
  • Trajectory of improvement
  • Attitude of the player to training and improvement

The current Selection Committee members are – GM David Howell (England International); GM John Emms (Programme Mentor); GM Pete Wells (Founding Head Coach); IM Adam Hunt (Programme Mentor); IM Malcolm Pein (ECF International Director); WFM Sarah Longson (ECF Academy Programme Director); Alex Holowczak (EFC Junior Director)

The Programme will reach out to candidates where appropriate to sound out the family on the potential of joining and to request additional information such as access to games and current coaching / training arrangements.

Guidance Notes on the Accelerator Programme Application Process

To be considered for selection onto the Accelerator Programme parents must apply in writing by completing the online form on the Chess Trust website. Intakes tend to be once per year in January although occasionally exceptions may be made. Any queries can be made to

Before applying

The Accelerator Programme is elite junior players who have already demonstrated outstanding tournament results and are amongst the leading players in their age-group (at least top 5 and often first). Please do not apply if this is not the case as we may decline to respond. Players not yet meeting these criteria would be better to apply first to the ECF Academy

Students on the Accelerator Programme will be expected to put in a lot of work on their chess – chess should be their main non-school activity and students should be actively looking to improve their game and reach their chess potential.

Application Process

Please complete the online form providing as much information as possible – this will improve the information available to selectors. Please ensure that the information provided is objective and complete – do not cherry pick tournament results for example!

The reason we ask for annotated games is so selectors can see how students currently think about the game and how they analyse their own games. They are not looking for a ‘best games collection’. Games sent should be

  • Reasonably recent (last 6 months)
  • Longer time controls (not online bullet and blitz games)
  • Contain the students notes – not the coaches or computer notes
  • Written thoughts – not just variations

For younger students it is of course fine for parents and coaches to help with this process. Games should be sent via the online form in electronic format – for example Lichess studies, Chessbase files, pgn, cbv etc.

Selection Criteria

All selections are made by the ‘Selection Committee’. The Committee will consider a range of factors including –

  • Tournament results
  • Rating progression
  • Information and annotated games supplied in the application

All Committee decisions are final.