Delancey’s UK Schools’ Chess Challenge will be kicking off on the 1st March in the spring school term. Over 40,000 children across the country will be competing in a battle of skill and strategy for a chance to win the top prize of £2,500!
In anticipation for the world’s largest children’s chess championships, we sat down with Sarah Hegarty, Director of the Challenge, to hear about some of the prizes up for grabs and her own experiences competing in Championships as a young girl.
The Spring term 2018 competition is soon to begin. Can you give us a bit of background into the competitions and what they’re all about?
The UK Chess challenge has been running since 1996 and has become the world’s largest chess competition. It is a fun tournament that introduces children to chess at school. The children all win prizes and the top boys and girls will qualify for the county stage and beyond!
It teaches children so many important life skills such as problem solving and healthy competitiveness. It’s a great break from iPads and is such an exciting game which can be enjoyed at every level!
We understand you actually took part in this tournament in 1996, and you loved the game so much that you now play for the English Ladies team! What do you believe it is about this game, and the Delancey UK Schools Chess Challenge, that makes schools and pupils so excited to take part year after year?
Yes, it was my first ever chess competition in 1996 and winning the U7 girls national title led to an appearance on Blue Peter with Garry Kasparov. Chess is so exciting – there are 9 million possible positions after 3 moves. Chess hasn’t been solved and I believe it never will be. Each game brings up a new exciting battle filled with challenges!
Children love the competition because of the excitement of chess and they learn it a friendly environment where they pick up prizes as the tournament progresses. They are encouraged to improve their skills at home. Without the support of Delancey we would not be able to offer the children so many prizes and training materials.
How can schools get involved in the Delancey UK Schools Chess Challenge for 2018?
They can enter online here.
Do schools need to have previous experience of running a chess club to take part?
Not at all. They just need a teacher or parent who can supervise the competition. All the rules are explained in the prize pack and the teacher only needs a basic knowledge of chess.
What are the key dates to watch out for, and where will these tournaments take place this year?
The best players at school will qualify for the Megafinals which take place over March-June and then the Gigafinals are the end of June-July and then the Terafinal takes place in September where the UK’s best brains will be fighting for the top prize of £2,500!
If you’re interested in competing, there’s still time – head to the website for a chance to enter through their last chance saloons. Keep up to date on the competition by following their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!