Chess is one of the oldest and most popular board games in the world and it is certainly enjoying a renaissance at Brentwood School with hundreds of students, including UK chess title holders, regularly competing at the highest level.
From across the board tournaments to national inter-school competitions, House events, lunchtime and after-school chess clubs and team challenges, there is something for everyone from the beginner to the world-class aficionado.
Head of Chess, Robin Slade, aims to make Brentwood School one of the UK’s strongest chess schools offering top level coaching and 11+ chess scholarships. But his ambition doesn’t end there – as well as raising the profile of chess within the school, making it fun and accessible to everyone, he also promotes chess across Essex.
He explains: “The many benefits of chess are well established. As a sport, a science and an art with 1,500 years of history, it is not only tremendous fun to play, but has been proven to develop problem-solving and risk-assessment skills and concentration among much else. Our chess scholars are applying to join a school where chess is a mainstream sporting and social activity. House Chess attracts up to 150 players, while the Year 7 chess club alone in 2022/2023 had over 90 members.”
Brentwood School is also enjoying success at National Level. In 2022/2023, Brentwood came second in the National Finals of the English Chess Federation Junior Team Challenge (for Year 7 and 8 students) and sixth in the ECF Under 19 National School Championship Finals (which Brentwood qualified for as East Anglian Champions).
But as Robin points out, these competitions are only the tip of the iceberg. “Students of any age and any level get a huge amount from the game,” he says. “Without realising it, they are learning problem solving and risk management. They are also learning to deal in the right way with all the emotions of leading and trailing, winning and losing. Just as importantly, it is simply a fun way to spend time with and make friends.”
Brentwood School is proud of its record of promoting junior chess locally and across Essex. “We run a number of tournaments in partnership with the Essex Junior Chess Association open to all juniors from Essex and further afield. Online, we run monthly individual blitz events open to all juniors with live TwitchTV commentary by our Director of Chess, IM Richard Pert.
“Chess fits in with so many aspects of Brentwood School’s learner profile: creativity, problem-solving, reflection, resilience and much more. The future of chess at Brentwood is looking very bright indeed!”
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