Chess in Schools and Communities' Prisons Coordinator Peter Sullivan trained and organised the England team that participated in the World Prison Chess Championship on 13th -14th of October. The event was run on International Day of Education in Prison, recognising the educational and behavioural benefit of chess to inmates. 

The England squad was made up of 4 players from HMP Wandsworth and 2 from HMP Hollesley Bay. 43 teams from 31 countries took part in the competition on under the auspices of FIDE. England scored a massive 23/24 in the preliminaries and 9.5/20 in the final stages against tougher competition. A report in the Guardian is here. Our thanks to the MoJ for their cooperation and we hope to spread chess to every UK prison!

Here we see the eventual winning team Mongolia in play

Some former prisoners were invited to tell their stories about chess helping them to change their lives. Simosakhe Ngwane, an ex-convict from South Africa, was one of them.

“I started playing chess in prison, and I fell in love with the game,” he confessed. “Learning chess made me develop a positive attitude. It taught me that life is built by the decisions we make every day. If I do what’s right, then I can enjoy the positive results and enjoy life. Chess is very important for those in prison and people who don’t want to go to prison because it makes you think about the future and worry more about the consequences of your decisions now. Chess brings discipline and calm; you must wait, think, prepare before you make a decision or a move. I hope the program expands into schools as well because that’s where our kids start making mistakes.”