Funding Boost for English Chess Sparks Excitement
Exciting news is brewing in the world of chess, and Northwich Chess Club is elated to hear about the funding boost for English chess talent! The government is all set to announce £500,000 of funding for the English Chess Federation, in addition to expanding chess in schools and public parks. This transformative investment is expected to be officially announced later this month, marking the first time the UK government has financially backed the national chess team.
Malcolm Pein, the federation’s director of international chess, expressed enthusiasm for the funding, highlighting that even though £500,000 may sound like a small amount, it can go a long way in supporting the game. Chess is known for its cost-effectiveness, enabling the funding to be efficiently utilized in areas like training camps, top-notch coaches, and cutting-edge computer analysis to nurture young chess talents.
With the newfound support, England is aiming to produce more grandmasters and climb back up the world rankings. In the 1980s, England reached the prestigious number two position, but has since slipped to 18th for men and 24th for women, as per the International Chess Federation.
Moreover, the plans to install chess tables in public parks have received enthusiastic backing. The proposal may start with just 100 tables, but given that there are only five such tables in parks across the entire country, this is considered a significant step forward. Northwich Chess Club believes that the popularity of these tables will lead to more local authorities embracing the idea and installing them in various public places.
The chess community is rejoicing over the surge of interest in the game, which intensified during lockdowns. The popularity of chess websites skyrocketed with a surge in sign-ups, and Netflix’s series “The Queen’s Gambit” inspired many, especially women, to take up chess.
Sarah Longson, a former British ladies champion and England’s junior players coach, remarked on the increased interest, particularly among women. She acknowledged the gender balance being roughly 50:50 at the primary school age but emphasized the need to encourage more women to stay involved in chess as they grow older.
Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, shares a passion for chess with Labour’s shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves, who was a junior chess champion herself. With both sides of the aisle recognizing the value of chess in fostering critical thinking and numeracy skills, Northwich Chess Club is optimistic about the future of chess in the UK.