A chess takeover is occurring in schools around the world.
Students in England, India and the US are discovering how
the game can improve their concentration, thinking skills
and even their chances of a university education. Helen Ward
gets on board.
Helen Ward | 7 June 2013
an American teenager who wants
to go to university. She comes
from a poor family, so she needs
to find a way to pay for her
studies. For her, that way is
a British international master
and director of the London Chess
Classic tournament, where the
world's top players compete, is
also chief executive of Chess in
Schools and Communities, which
runs schemes at St Antony's and
a further 192 schools in
England. "Chess used to be
unbelievably popular," he says.
"It still is, it's played by
millions of people in the
Over the next year, the
effect of chess on children's mathematical
skills will be scrutinised. CSC has won a
bid for almost £690,000 from the Education
Endowment Foundation to set up a randomised,
controlled trial in partnership with the
University of London's Institute of
Courses in London, Birmingham, Liverpool
Four courses for new
tutors will be taking place in London (19th) & Birmingham
(26th June), Liverpool (3rd July) and Sheffield (16th
The courses are
open to anyone, regardless of teaching or playing
The London course on 19th June
CSC Hammersmith & Fulham
On 7 June CSC
held a tournament at Fulham
College Boys’ School for schools
in the Borough. Gwen Cummins at
Melcombe was instrumental in
organising the tournament and
securing the venue, which was
great - Fulham College Boys’
School were very good hosts.
The game of chess might have a rather elite
image but that could be about to change.
Nearly £700,000 has recently been set aside to introduce
chess to city schoolchildren who would otherwise probably
never experience it. Richard Payne has visited a school in
Bristol where chess is a popular part of the curriculum.
Louise Ellman MP visited
Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School
On Friday April 26th, Louise Ellman
MP visited Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School in
Liverpool which is in her constituency to present the
chess team with prizes in honour of their performance at
the National Schools Under 11 Girls Championships.
Louise Ellman MP for Liverpool Riverside
CSC tutor John Gorman, CSC
Chief Executive Malcolm Pein (right) and the
Heart's Under 11 Girls' team
scored spectacularly well
against pupils from fee paying
schools with a long standing
chess tradition, beating the
teams from King's Chester and
Bolton School. Sacred Heart A
would have qualified for the
national final but lost to their
own B team!
Mrs Ellman also awarded the prizes to
the winners of the Delancey UK Chess Challenge
competitions held within the school and these winners
will be going forward to the Mega Final.
CSC Chief Executive Malcolm Pein
congratulated the team and thanked the Head Teacher
Charles Daniels for agreeing to host the next
CSC Training Course. Malcolm also expressed his
appreciation for the work done by chess tutor John
Gorman which has been inspirational.
Sacred Heart is one of 193 schools
across England and Wales with a Chess in Schools and
Communities programme, meaning that they are taught
chess as part of the curriculum for one hour every week.
All chess equipment, books, teaching aids and software
are provided by Chess in Schools and Communities.
A visit from BBC Radio 4 made to Ravenscroft
Primary School in Newham reveals how the
children are enjoying their chess. Head
Teacher Alison Sharp explains some of the
benefits of chess. Malcolm Pein, CSC Chief
Executive went along too.
(Runtime: 4 mins 40 secs).
Pupils to be given chess
lessons in school standards drive
Thousands of pupils from inner-city primary schools will be
given lessons in chess amid claims that the game can boost
children’s concentration levels and numeracy skills, it was
Graeme Paton | 20
Some 6,000 children will receive
specially-structured classes as part of a £700,000
taxpayer-funded programme designed to raise standards in
poor areas, it emerged.
The scheme will target 10-year-olds
in 100 schools to test the impact that chess has on
pupils’ abilities across a range of academic
Experts believe that the game – which
is already part of the curriculum in some other
countries – can dramatically improve pupils’ levels of
concentration, boost problem-solving skills and develop
their thought processes.
Chess in Schools and Communities launches first
Chess in Schools and the
Communities (CSC), a UK registered charity
and Newham Borough Council are working
together with East Village in an innovative
project to deliver chess to all 64 primary
schools in Newham and teach 20,000 children
to play the world's most enduring game.
The 'Urban Chess' program was
launched on 13th March. East Village
celebrated its sponsorship of CSC, by welcoming
local schools to Stratford Library for a fun and
educational morning of chess games and classes on a
giant board - led by British Champion Grandmaster
The Urban Chess funding from East
Village will bring chess sets and lessons to 14
Newham schools, with the aim of expanding to all 64
primary schools in the borough by 2015, so that
every local child can learn how to play the world's
most enduring game.
As well as promoting chess in
schools, the partnership will develop chess clubs
and lessons in libraries, and hopes to set up a
chess festival and provide giant chess sets in the
borough's parks, if there is a significant take up
of the scheme. The borough's first chess club will
open to the community from Thursday 14 March in
Battlelines: Clockwise from left, chess coach
Peter Mant, Catlin Grant (8), Nicole
Oduah (9), Febishola Akinde (9), Nicollette
Oduah (9), and Teslim Kolapo (9).
primary-aged children in Southward are
taking advantage of a year-long drive to
teach them chess.
The ancient pastime has
traditionally been seen as a "posh" game
played by knights and kings with playing
pieces including, er, knights and kings, but
now children in one of the country's most
disadvantaged boroughs are learning it too.
Susie Hunanyan, 7, takes on a chess opponent
in class in
Armenia's capital Yerevan [Felix Gaedtke/Al
Small Caucasus country is the first in
the world to make chess mandatory in schools, aiming to
build a better society.
Yerevan, Armenia - Little Susie
Hunanyan attended her favourite class in school last week,
and it wasn't drawing, crafts or sport. The seven-year-old
sat studiously through an hour of chess lessons.
In Armenia, learning to play the grand
game of strategy in school is mandatory for children - the
only country in the world that makes chess compulsory - and
the initiative has paid dividends. Armenia, a Caucasus
country with a population of just three million, is a chess
The Hungarian Institute for Educational
Research and Development has made Judit Polgar’s
”Skill-building Chess” subject available for elementary
schools from September 2013.
The Judit Polgar Chess Foundation for
Educational Benefits has been working on the „Chess Palace”
program for more than a year.
Chess makes a
Chess is making a dramatic comeback
in primary schools – thirty years after it all but
disappeared completely from the state school scene.
In the past two years, a total of 175
schools – including those serving some of the most
deprived areas of the country – have reintroduced the
game to the curriculum.
Now the charity behind its revival,
Chess in Schools and Communities (CSC), is optimistic
the take-up will spread to 1,000 state schools within
the next three years.
Academics are agreed the game is a
major stimulant for improving pupils’ concentration and
believe it can also be used in other subject areas –
such as maths – to improve skills. Read
CSC at the London Chess Classic
The 4th London Chess Classic 2012 took
place at Olympia in London recently. Hundreds of school children from around
the UK arrived daily for free chess lessons,
tournaments and the opportunity to see the world number one
Magnus Carlsen, former world champion Vladimir Kramnik and
current world champion Vishy Anand. Many other side events
took place too including a festival of chess tournaments.
London Classic ran from December 1st to 10th.
Pein, CEO of CSC and Rudi
Valcke, chess teacher (BE)
benefits of chess during the Chess in
School seminar at
the EU (on the
left Garry Kasparov)
This was sponsored by 5 MEPS from the UK, Finland,
Italy, Bulgaria and Malta.
declarations need the support of half of all
MEPs before they can go before the
European Commission for consideration and
For the last 6
months Garry Kasparov and his team, aided by the
office of Bulgarian MEP Slavi Binev have been
working tirelessly to secure the signatures of 380
MEPs. I am delighted to report that to date 377
signatures have been received!
Thanks to all those associated with CSC who wrote to
First birthday reception for the charity
Chess in Schools and Communities
18 October 2011
Rachel Reeves MP, Member of Parliament for Leeds West,
hosted our first birthday reception in the Jubilee Room
at Westminster on Tuesday. A huge thank you to Rachel
one of our schools in her constituency to give a
simultaneous display. Despite not having played
competitively for many years, she remains a very good
player and even Garry was impressed.
Children from Teesside, Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool,
Swansea, Cardiff, Bristol, Barnet, Hackney, Newham and
Hammersmith and Fulham were accompanied by their
teachers and parents. Every child got the chance to take
on Nigel Short in a simultaneous display. Rachel spoke
about how learning chess at an early age had helped her.
CSC are also grateful to the 13th World Champion Garry
Kasparov who came to London and spoke at the event as
well as making many media appearances. Thanks also to
Nigel Short who played the children and a few MPs
without losing a game!
Grandmaster Jonathan Rowson and our Field Worker England
international Sabrina Chevannes, also made some moves.
There was an outstanding performance from Matteo Walls
of William Patten School in Hackney who nearly drew. I
played a few moves and came to his board to find the
position completely equal after about 30 moves – well
Rachel’s colleagues in the Labour Shadow Cabinet; Angela
and Maria Eagle also attended the event. They, like
Rachel, were strong junior players but in my home city