Havering primary school win national award for chess prowess

Linda Van Den Hende accompanies children from Crownfield Junior School to the London Chess Classic.

Linda Van Den Hende accompanies children from Crownfield Junior School to the London Chess Classic. Photo: Lennart Ootes - Credit: Archant

The chess prowess of a Havering primary school has been honoured with a prestigious national award.

Crownfield Junior School, in White Hart Lane, Collier Row, was presented with the British Chess Educational Trust Award at the UK’s largest chess tournament - the London Chess Classic.

Havering Mayor councillor Linda Van den Hende accompanied the school to the event, which featured World Champion Magnus Carlsen, on Tuesday.

Cllr Van den Hende said: “I’m very proud to be here today to be part of the presentation to Crownfield Junior School.

“It is an amazing achievement from one of our primary schools.”

She added: “They are benefitting from a pastime that allows them to interact socially and it promotes equality between boys and girls, since they can compete on an equal footing.

“We very much hope that this initiative will expand into other Havering schools.”

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In addition to Carlsen, the tournament featured nine of the world’s greatest chess champions.

The mayor made a ceremonial first move on behalf of French grandmaster Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in his fourth round match against Carlsen.

The event was run by charity Chess in Schools and Communities, who have worked with Crownfield to develop its chess programme over the last three years.

Chess in Schools and Communities works with over 800 state schools nationwide, offering chess to children in disadvantaged areas because of the positive impact the game can have on children’s education and social development.

Trained tutors working for the charity deliver lessons over a 30-week period as either part of the school curriculum or during extra-curricular chess clubs.

Half of Crownfield school now play chess in curriculum-based lessons and extra-curricular clubs with the encouragement of local chess tutor Samantha Ali.

Samantha said: “Chess at the school has taken off in a huge way. We’re running weekly lessons for the Year 3s and a lunchtime club has been set up, open to all, which is oversubscribed.

“We are also arranging a ‘learn chess’ session for the teaching staff on one of their inset days very soon, so they can appreciate what the children are benefitting from.”