The Problem

This table shows the number of players born between 2000 and 2009 who had active standard FIDE (International Chess Federation) ratings as of October 2020.


There are a few caveats here: the numbers are clearly influenced by the Coronavirus pandemic. A lot of chess here in the UK is only nationally rated: evening leagues, schools events and some other major junior tournaments, for example, but, even so, the extraordinarily low figures for the UK are noteworthy. Teenagers no longer play serious competitive chess in any great number: but this is not the case in other, culturally similar, countries of Western Europe.

You see the problem, though, don’t you?

I have some suggestions about how we can improve this situation, about how we can encourage children like I was, who don’t have a chess background at home, to join clubs and perhaps graduate to competitive chess. In other words, to reach at least 1500 strength.

  1. Promote minichess activities in primary schools to give all children the experience of playing strategy games.
  2. Establish a network of clubs where parents and children can learn chess together and form new friendships. Children with special needs or mental health problems may gain particular benefit from these clubs.
  3. Be proactive in promoting chess in secondary schools, particularly in more deprived areas.

If you’d like to talk to me further about this, do please get in touch.