Chess Tournament for Primary Schools
A fun chess tournament between primary chess players from all over Birmingham. The event is run in such a way that pupils play the majority of their games against players of a similar strength. The entire competition is completed within an hour and a half (with each participant playing six or seven games during that time) so that pupils miss only half a day of school. In the 2014-15 academic year, King Edward's School organised two such chess tournaments with each being attended by different sets of over 100 primary-aged pupils.
There are a number of chess-playing primary schools in the Birmingham area but there is no league or inter-school competition because of logistical difficulties with time and travel. The aim of this competition was to provide a forum where players could play opponents of a similar standard from other schools all at one venue on one afternoon. A format was designed so that matches were completed quickly to allow pupils to play as many games as possible in a short period of time.
King Edward's School has a long tradition for chess. Tom Arbuthnott, Director of Outreach, and the staff who run the school chess teams discussed how a tournament could be implemented and decided upon a format that would be suitable. The first tournament was held in 2013 and this was expanded to two tournaments in the 2014-15 academic year. There will be further tournaments in 2015-16 and the number offered may need to be expanded further if demand continues to grow.
The tournament is run by a team of King Edward's School staff and boys. In order that the tournament is completed within a short time precise organisation is necessary and so a fairly large team (between 8 and 12) of King Edward's School pupils is required. The competition takes place in the main hall which the school provides free of charge.
Primary pupils have indicated that they enjoy the fast-paced nature of the day and the large proportion of the time during which they are playing chess. Feedback from teachers has demonstrated that they are pleased that pupils get to play opponents of a similar standard and that are different from those that they compete against on a regular basis.
Students from King Edward's School are involved will all aspects of running the competiiton, including setting up the boards, assisting with queries about the rules and ensuring that the transition between rounds runs quickly and smoothly. The interaction between the older and younger pupils before and after the tournament is beneficial for both sets of children.
Currently the chess tournament is provisioned twice a year, although that may be expanded in the future if demand continues to grow. This event is hugely beneficial for all involved and we hope that it will continued to be offered for some time as part of the King Edward's School outreach project.