Photo © Ben Wright

Mayor hosts school chess tournament to inspire future grandmasters

Mayor Marvin Rees joined local primary schools making a move to inspire future chess grandmasters as 120 pupils took part in a chess competition at City Hall on Friday.

This is the sixth time that the annual tournament, organised by the Chess in Schools and Communities charity, has taken place. It is designed to capture children’s interest in the game and promote chess as an educational tool which can be used in schools.

Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, attended the competition to hand out prizes to the winners. He said:

“It’s a little known fact that I’m a big chess fan and I used to run a chess club in my old school. The game is an excellent way to learn problem solving skills, logic and it can also help children to become more resilient and learn how to lose gracefully. Being a Learning City is all about encouraging learning and chess is something that can be enjoyed by all ages, so families can play it at home. I would really like to see more of our schools taking up the chess lessons offered by Chess in Schools – this competition is helping to break down the myth that chess is only a game for the elite.”

The tournament saw pupils from across the region with a higher number of girls taking part than in previous tournaments. Fourteen schools from Bristol and the surrounding area took part in the tournament and pupils played five games during the day. All the participating schools have been running a weekly chess lessons as part of the curriculum and the tournament marks the end of the year’s lessons.

The Mayor and pupils were joined by tutors from Chess in Schools, as well as Cllr Claire Hiscott, Cabinet Member for Education, and local MP’s and councillors. A number of teachers from the schools taking part also attended.

Kajetan Wandowicz, event organiser from Chess in Schools and Communities, said:

“Bringing together schools in this way has proven to be very popular. As well as giving children a chance to improve their maths attainment by honing their concentration and special reasoning, it also helps to improve social development by teaching children how to move on after making a mistake. Chess is a great leveller – it isn’t bound by age, gender, faith, ethnicity or disability, plus it’s a lot of fun to play. Who knows; maybe one of the children who took part will even become a grandmaster of the future.”

Primary schools competing included Ashton Vale Primary School, Badock’s Wood Community Primary School, Cabot Primary School, Combe Down Primary School, Compass Point Primary School, Henbury Court Primary Academy, Little Mead Primary Academy, Shield Road Primary School, St Bonaventure’s Catholic Primary School, St Michaels on the Mount Primary School, Stoke Park Primary School, Victoria Park Primary School and Wrington Church of England Primary School.

Chess in Schools work with hundreds of schools nationwide, focusing on those in disadvantaged areas, and offer chess lessons which are geared towards improving children’s maths and decision making skills. Trained tutors who work for the charity deliver lessons over a 30 week period during the school day or at extra-curricular chess clubs. Schools receive chess sets, teaching and learning resources as well as entry to school activity days at the London Chess Classic. Staff are also offered free training, enabling them to lead the lessons. The charity also runs a growing network of chess clubs in libraries, junior centres and even prisons.