Mon 7 Nov 2011
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There is a joke among chess players that goes like this; two players are embroiled in a game and one says, ‘let’s make it interesting’ to which his opponent replies; “OK, let’s stop playing.’ I own up to being a lower than average club player who enjoys playing in leagues and tournaments with no illusions of grandeur. My ambition is to write a chess book, “My sixty cr*p games” a reference of course to the masterpiece by the late and more than great Bobby Fischer whose 60 memorable games is one of the greatest ever books on chess. From my archive I will have plenty of losing games to choose from!So what has chess got to do with the image of care? Well, the charity Chess in Schools and Community, CSC, has had success in helping young people from disadvantaged areas and communities improve their lives. The charity is pushing the game in primary schools across the UK and youngsters who have been involved in negative types of battles in gangs are now enjoying the endless possibilities offered on the 64 squares.
Chess is second only in participation to football, an estimated 500 million people in 167 countries play the game and in some countries it is on the national teaching curriculum. Chess’s unique selling points are that it is universal, with no barriers of age, gender, race, physical disability or language; it has a positive image and that it has educational and social benefits backed by academic research. And those of you reading this who have enjoyed the occasional game on the beach will testify that it is a cheap, fun pastime that can be relatively easily picked up and enjoyed.
CSC are making an impact with coaches helping a range of primary school kids across the country and from different backgrounds and the feedback from headteachers has been very encouraging. A similar scheme in the USA was adapted as a feature film Knights of the South Bronx
Chess may not seem ‘cool’ but the world’s number one player, Magnus Carlsen from Norway, starred in a fashion shoot for G-Star and plays matches with Formula-1 style sponsorship on his shirt.
So I applaud this initiative by CSC and wish the charity well.