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Rachel Reeves Chess Meeting at Westminster (18th Oct)

Chess legend Kasparov says: 'Chess is cool in school'

Rachel Reeves gives a simul in Leeds. Photo ©

Rachel Reeves gives a simul in Leeds. Photo © |

Garry Kasparov attends an event at Westminster Hosted by Rachel Reeves MP. Nigel Short conducts a simultaneous display. The aim of Chess in Schools and Communities [CSC] to teach every child how to play chess gathers pace as Garry Kasparov, the greatest ever player of the world's most enduring game, joins the organisation to celebrate its first birthday at the House of Commons on Tuesday. John Saunders will report on the days events on his blog.

CSC Press release 18th October 2011

The campaign run by the charity 'Chess in Schools and Communities' [CSC] to teach every child how to play chess gathers pace as Garry Kasparov, the greatest ever player of the world's most enduring game, joins the organisation to celebrate its first birthday at the House of Commons on Tuesday.

Since its establishment 12 months ago, CSC has introduced over 3,000 children to the game in over 80 primary schools across England and Wales. The positive returns means the charity is making good progress towards its target of introducing chess back into 1000 primary schools nationwide.

CSC argues that introducing pupils to chess at Year 2 or 3 would offer them a host of benefits that are not engendered by other team and individual sports. Numerous research studies have shown the positive impact chess has on students' academic performance, especially in maths, reading and attendance levels. Chess is a universal game and brings children of different ages, races and genders together in an activity they can all enjoy. Chess can also teach children valuable life lessons such as sportsmanship - how to win graciously, accept defeat, learn from it and persevere.

CSC want every child to have the opportunity to learn chess and believe this can be made a reality within existing resources. A tiny rebalancing of school budgets for sport from physical sport to mental sport (from 100%:0% to 99.5%:0.5%), would provide sufficient funding for chess in 1000 schools, thus bringing the game to over 250,000 children. Chess requires no expensive equipment and exploits intellectual capital making the CSC program a low-cost, high-impact enterprise that costs just £1000 per school per year. What's more, any money secured or offered will be matched by CSC, who supply free chess equipment, teacher training and class teaching to participating schools.

Tuesday's event in Westminster will be hosted by Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves, one of 23 MPs to have signed an early day motion submitted by Yasmin Qureshi MP, backing the campaign to give every primary school child in the country the chance to learn how to play chess. Rachel will be joined at the event by children from schools across the country who have already benefitted from the charity, along with former World Chess Champion Kasparov and former world title challenger Nigel Short. The children will be given the chance to take on Nigel to see how their new-found skills stand up.

Malcolm Pein, Chief Executive of 'Chess in Schools and Communities', said: "Chess in Schools and Communities is honoured to have two chess legends joining us to celebrate the first year of our six year plan to put chess into 1000 schools nationwide. Our scheme gives children from state schools opportunities taken for granted in the private sector and improves life chances at a young age.

"The response from Head Teachers has been overwhelmingly positive as they see how chess can captivate, motivate and elevate children of all backgrounds and abilities. The UK needs to catch up with other EU countries which already have extensive chess in schools programmes."

Rachel Reeves, Member of Parliament for Leeds West, said: "I am proud to support the charity Chess in Schools and Communities, which harnesses the intellectual and social benefits of chess and already brings the world's most enduring game to eighty schools and 3,000 children around the country, including in my own constituency. I know from my own experience how playing chess can be an aid to academic development, having started to play chess myself at the age of seven.

"Chess improves logic, critical thinking and creativity. It also teaches children that they are responsible for their own actions. I look forward to hosting Chess in Schools and Garry Kasparov in Parliament and watching children from around the country try their best to beat Nigel Short, former world title challenger!"

Early Day Motion number 2158 'That this House recognises the positive social and intellectual benefits for all children across the social spectrum of learning chess at a young age and the relatively low costs of teaching it in schools; notes that while chess currently receives no financial support from the Government, many European countries including Sweden and France financially support chess in schools; further notes that the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth would welcome UK support for the Chess in Schools project being developed by the ECU and the Kasparov Chess Foundation; welcomes the work of the UK-based charity Chess in Schools and Communities which teaches chess to primary school children from less affluent backgrounds; and calls on the Government to ensure that all children are given the opportunity to learn chess at primary school within existing resources'

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