Let’s set the scene. Julian was like any other seven year old, waiting for his mother to pick him up from school so he could get home and go out to play. Thanks to Julian’s mother being late to pick him up, he found himself in the school chess club and was inspired to study the ‘play chess’ series on the BBC during the school holidays. Worth noting how fate can play such an important part in changing your future!
By nine years old he was the school champion and this helped boost his academic performance. At 17 he coached the school under-13 team and, in his first year of teaching, took one of his pupils from a total beginner to National Level. That former pupil is now a very high-level player and teaching his own children!
Thirty years on, Julian continues to play chess seriously at club and county level, with some notable achievements along the way, including playing for the county team of Shropshire in 1997, and attaining 4th place in the Intermediate and Individual Shropshire County Chess Championships in 1998.
During his time as a teacher at one of the largest private schools in the UK, Julian coached a beginner in one and a half years to play for England U11s, while retaining his position as a committee member of the School Teacher Parent Association from 2000 to 2004, where he assisted International Chess Master, Andrew Martin in chess coaching. Deciding to use his experience gained in the classroom, he then took this outside to teach tennis professionally, but he never gave up on his dream of running a chess business, and in 2014, LearnChess Ltd was created to run alongside SETennis (South Eastern Tennis); combining the process of providing physical and mental well-being into complete solution for mind and body.
Now, four years on, LearnChess is expanding its offering beyond schools and into the workplace, independent living centres, social groups and even individuals who wish to learn at their own pace. Julian says, “I love seeing the light bulb moment when a player of any age notices the best move”, and admits he gets a huge buzz knowing that LearnChess has already helped so many people develop life skills through playing the game.
Moving forwards (pardon the pun) he is confident the entire team will develop the success story of this small, but rapidly growing company, and wants to ensure the primary philosophy of quality teaching and coaching methods are continually developed to make the LearnChess brand stand out in this fast-paced marketplace.