UK Government Announces 1.25M Dollar Investment To Transform English Chess

UK Government Announces 1.25M Dollar Investment To Transform English Chess


Chess has been given a major boost in England after the U.K. government announced a combined package worth almost £1 million ($1.25 million) to fund the English Chess Federation (ECF). The funding will support children playing chess and improve the visibility of the game. reported on “The Great British Chess Revival” two weeks ago with U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak who was set to announce the funding. In the official announcement by the U.K. government last week, the amount has been doubled compared to the early signal of $637,000. 

The package includes an investment of £500,000 in the ECF over two years “in order to develop the next generation of world-class talent”, a much needed boost for a nation where chess has struggled for years.

The U.K.’s Culture Secretary Luzy Frazer said:

Chess is a brilliant way for young people to develop skills such as patience and critical thinking. It is something constructive on which to spend their time and feel part of. It inspires creativity and sparks the competitive spirit.

We want to give more young people the opportunity to find the thing that they love and realize their potential. So this package is focused on getting more young people playing chess and supporting them to develop their talent.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “Chess is a great skill, really good for helping you think and a great hobby.” Here he is chatting with IM Shreyas Royal, England’s leading junior, in 10 Downing Street.

IM Malcolm Pein, who told about his carefully designed plan that involved lobbying government officials, calls the funding unprecedented and says it’s “only the beginning” for chess in England.

“It is potentially transformational, because what it means is that we’ll be able to get the very best coaching for this enormous group of incredibly talented young players. The thing about chess is that it’s very low-cost,” Pein told BBC.

“There’s an awful lot more that we can do. We’d like to try to regain England’s former status as the second-best nation. But it will be extremely difficult,” he said.

England’s elite players and its top juniors can now expect grandmaster coaching and invitations to training camps, and support to take part in international tournaments. One who will benefit greatly from that is England’s leading junior, 14-year-old IM Shreyas Royal. His father, Jitendra Singh, said:

I was struggling to support my son with the required chess tournaments and coaching instrumental to his development at such a young and crucial age. With this grant from the government, we will be able to help more kids flourish at the game through the hard-working organizations of the English Chess Federation and Chess in Schools and Communities. I believe that it is also a very beneficial hobby and would love to see more people getting into the game from this monumental announcement.

England's IM Shreyas Royal, rated at 2402, is among the world's top 10 players under 14.
England’s IM Shreyas Royal, rated at 2402, is among the world’s top-10 players under 14. commentator and UK’s number-one, GM David Howell, is also ecstatic.

Chess has been my life and, as a professional player, the news of support from the government is music to my ears. Hopefully this will inspire the next generation of chess players, as well as bringing the joys of the game that I love to an even wider audience.

In addition to the funding of elite players, £250,000 will be provided to see 100 new chess tables installed in public parks and outdoor green spaces around the country, and grants for schools in disadvantaged areas to get more children to play chess.

The government has also set out plans to encourage more primary school children, particularly girls, to learn to play the game.

Children’s Minister Claire Coutinho said:

Chess is for everyone, regardless of background. I’m thrilled that more primary school children will learn how to play, boosting their concentration, problem-solving, and wellbeing in the process.

From providing in-person tuition to helping pupils enter competitive tournaments, this funding will support schools to spark a passion for chess in children across the country.


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