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Organisers hope success of Queen’s Gambit can help inspire young people to Trafalgar Square chess event

·2 min read
 Anya Taylor-Joy in The Queen’s Gambit. The festival organisers hope the success of Netflix’s hit show can help drive attendance at its chess festival in Trafalgar Square (Netflix)
Anya Taylor-Joy in The Queen’s Gambit. The festival organisers hope the success of Netflix’s hit show can help drive attendance at its chess festival in Trafalgar Square (Netflix)

A Chess festival for schoolchildren with hundreds of open air games and others live on big screen TV is one of the first big public events in Trafalgar Square this summer as part of an attempt to “reboot London” after lockdown.

As well as the games, the festival on Sunday 18 July will feature free chess lessons for children and adults from professional chess teachers and top British players.

Malcolm Pein, chief executive of the charity Chess in Schools and Communities, which is organising the festival, said: “We hope this event will assist London’s recovery, while raising the game’s profile and leveraging the boost it received during lockdown and from the success of Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit.”

There will also be a human chess game with sound effects performed by professional actors in costumes drawing on themes from Lewis Carroll’s Alice Through the Looking Glass.

There will also be the chance to challenge a grandmaster at speed chess and an exhibition on “Blindfold Chess” in which players are unable to see or touch the pieces and compete instead using a mental picture of the pieces.

The Trafalgar Square festival will be the culmination of a three day “ChessFest” which will also see 300 children from 30 inner-city schools across Britain invited to the capital.

They will take part in a tournament and visit the V&A museum to see its exhibition of Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser and later try on 15th and 16th century armour from the Wallace Collection to become real ‘knights’ on the chess board.

As a legacy from the festival, Chess in Schools and Communities says that it will also seek to work with councils in London to install giant chess sets and permanent chess tables in parks in the capital so that the game can be played all year as in New York, Paris, Amsterdam and other cities.

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