96 pupils from all of Gibraltar’s middle schools’ yesterday took part in the 15th edition of the annual Middle Schools’ Chess Championship.
Organised by Peter Purland through the main chess festival held at the beginning of every year, the Gibraltar International Chess Festival which from day one has promoted the children’s game, the event has kept on growing year on year.
This competition began back in 2004 and this year it has seen a record number of entries from all the schools involved.
All of the schools: St Joseph’s. St Anne’s, the Hebrew School, St Bernard’s, Bishop Fitzgerald and Loreto Convent, have chess clubs and yesterday they each fielded a ‘Team A’ together with a ‘Team B’ and ‘C’.
Each team with a total of five players all from school year four (aged eight and nine) and up to year seven (aged 11 and 12).
Community Chess Professional Stuart Conquest said it was great to see how chess was benefitting more and more children locally, and how they returned year on year.
But what was very evident, he added, was how the standard of play was getting stronger and stronger all the time.
“There’s a good level here. Good quality chess.”
For Mr Purland, who knows most if not all the youngsters by name and has been instrumental in teaching them from day one, spoke with pride of how he could see the progression in many of the players.
Mr Purland said the numbers this year had soared because of the number of entries in both the ‘B’ and ‘C’ teams which was a very positive sign.
“This is good competition and the standards keep on improving and this is a great thing and can only be good for the future of local chess,” he said.
Head teachers and chess club teachers at the event yesterday were keen to point out the benefits of chess and the children’s enjoyment in playing as a team and as part of a school.
They agreed on how the benefits of chess included team work, concentration and development of relationships with their pupils and teachers as well as making new friends in what can only be describe as a very friendly atmosphere.