A MOVE by Bolton MP Yasmin Qureshi could see chess on all school timetables.
It may lead to youngsters follow in the footsteps of Bolton School old boy Nigel Short, who became the youngest international chess master in history at the age of 14.
He went on to become Britain’s strongest chess grandmaster of the 20th century.
Ms Qureshi is pushing for the game to become an “integral part” of the curriculum.
She says it improves academic attainment and develops important skills among children.
Ms Qureshi has launched the all party parliamentary group for chess, which has gained the support of about 25 MPs.
The group wants the game to be promoted in primary and secondary education and will lobby for UK legislation to formally recognise chess as a sport.
Schools in Bolton, some of which are in areas of deprivation, already promote chess in schools, with SS Simon and Jude’s CE Primary, in Great Lever, running a chess club for Year Four pupils.
The school said it helps youngsters develop cognitive skills and enables them to become “critical thinkers, better problem-solvers and more independent decision makers”.
And SS Osmund and Andrew’s RC in Breightmet are the former borough champions.
As part of the launch the MP hosted a Yes2Chess reception with 40 primary schoolchildren representing eight countries ahead of the Yes2chess tournament held in London.
Ms Qureshi said: “My vision is to see more chess being played in schools in Bolton and throughout the country. Chess needs to become a more integral part of the curriculum.
“There is considerable research to show improvements in educational outcomes and social developments.
“But, more than this, chess cultivates patience. It teaches to pause before acting, to reflect on options and strategic decision making — skills we should be nurturing in our future generations”
She said the UK is in a tiny minority of European states that does not recognise chess as a sport and it is cut out of arts and cultural education funding.
Bolton School pupil Sharon Daniel, aged 12, who is currently appearing in Channel 4’s Child Genius has already proved herself to be an exceptionally gifted competitive chess player, despite only taking up the game four years ago.
She has also played internationally for the England under-11s team.
In the past academic year, the youngster, from Westhoughton, has competed in the World Youth Chess Championships, has been described as one of the best British female players in her category and was crowned the U11 English Youth Chess Champion 2013.
And fellow Bolton School pupil, Mahima Raghavendra, also from Westhoughton, won the national under-nines AJIS chess tournament, the UKCC “Giga Final” and was the best U9 girl in the British Chess Championships in 2012.
She plays for Atherton in the local chess league.
The Bolton School Girls’ Division junior team won the Bolton Chess League in 2012.