Gathering of Grandmasters Attracts Celebrities and Students
By Adrienne Jones for Eventgroove
London saw some of the world’s top chess grandmasters compete from 7th through 15th December during the 5th London Chess Classic, held at Kensington’s Olympia Conference Centre. The event was sponsored by a trustee of Chess in Schools and Communities (CSC), and the proceeds went to support that program.
The CSC is working toward three goals: improving “children’s educational outcomes and fostering their social development by introducing them to the game of chess in schools and inner-city communities,” organizing chess events in the hopes of increasing public participation, and raising the profile of the game by highlighting its social and educational advantages. Currently, the CSC has over 80 professional chess tutors working in 280 schools across 50 boroughs throughout England and Wales.
Several studies have indicated that playing chess delays cerebral aging and can benefit players by increasing their problem-solving, critical thinking, decision-making, memory, and many other skills. It’s also been found to improve concentration, confidence, patience, discipline, and IQ. The CSC looks to start chess clubs in every primary school in England and Wales, where students can receive free weekly coaching sessions, software and chess sets, as well as opportunities to join in inter-school competitions.
The London Chess Classic offered free admission to children and many free events for school chess clubs, including a master class and tournament that saw the over 60 schools participate. Matthew Lunn, event organizer and researcher for CSC, says that a new program at the classic, the Pro-Celebrity Challenge turned into “a particular highlight, as we’d never hosted anything like this before!” This competition featured rapper Lethal Bizzle, television presenter Alex Zane, and singer Shingai Shoniwa as they paired with chess grandmasters to face off against either another pro-celebrity team or CSC students.
Lunn says the group used every promotional method at their disposal to advertise the event. They relied on advertisements and articles in magazines, flyers at chess tournaments, radio promos, interviews, word of mouth, Internet advertising, and social networking. He believes that their print collateral, especially flyers at chess tournaments, worked best at getting people to the tournament.
Lunn adds that while “there are an extraordinary number of different things you need to be aware of” when planning any event, organisers should “always make sure they have a good relationship with their sub-contractors” to ensure that they are eager to help you perfect every detail of your special occasion.