The ancient game of chess brings benefits to all who play it and is consequently an important aspect of life at Queen Elizabeth’s School.
Intriguing and satisfying, chess enhances concentration, memory and patience, while fostering creativity, analytical skills and the facility for problem-solving. There is evidence that playing chess may raise IQ and that it constitutes a rare example of an activity that stimulates both sides of the brain.
The reasonably quiet and disciplined manner in which it is played accustoms young boys to a studious environment. And chess-playing teaches valuable social attributes, such as courteousness and the need to be gracious in both victory and defeat.
For all these reasons, chess has long been fêted as a valuable use of boys’ time at all levels of the School. It is both a popular activity and one in which élite players can compete at the highest levels.
Central to the School’s success in chess is our Improvers’ Chess Club, which takes place every Monday after school. We benefit enormously from the contribution of Tony Corfe, a professional chess coach and organiser, who runs the club in collaboration with five other professional coaches. The club is currently attended by some 140 boys. Pupils are placed in ability groups: this matches them against those of a similar standard and challenges them to play themselves up into higher groups.
The Year 7 Chess Tournament and Years 8 to 11 Swiss Chess Tournament (in which players of similar ability are paired under the Swiss system) are popular annual events, with more than 50 boys typically competing in each. We are also represented by two teams of 12 players at the Millfield International Chess Tournament, the most prestigious schools’ chess tournament on the calendar, and by several teams in the National Chess Team Championships. The School Team plays in the top schools’ knockout competition, the English Chess Federation National Schools’ Championship, and has qualified for the final stages on several occasions.
In addition, we take boys to compete in the Basildon Junior Chess Congress, in the National U14 Quickplay Championships in Birmingham and in the British Land UK Chess Challenge. The School’s growing reputation in chess has been further endorsed by the invitation of boys in recent years to compete in an international tournament in Dubai.