Photocall: 11am, Friday 29 September, public foyer of Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh

Robin Harper MSP, co-leader of the Green Party, will today (Friday 29th September) present an Awards for All grant for £5,000 to a group of junior chess players in the Scottish Parliament. The youngsters will receive the money on behalf of Chess Scotland who will use it to appoint conduct a root and branch review of schools and junior chess development in Scotland.

Mr Harper, who acted as referee for Chess Scotland’s Awards for All grant application, warmly supports Chess Scotland’s bid to raise its game in junior chess. Robin will exchange a few moves with the juniors drawn from chess clubs from Lothians schools, Stewarts Melville College and Dunbar and South Morningside Primary Schools.

Andrew Green (aged 16), Stewarts Melville College, who captained Scotland’s Youth Team this summer, will lead the juniors, supported by some very keen 10 year-olds: Clara Pickering, South Morningside Primary 2006 under-10 champion; and Joseph Cameron, Craig Thorburn, Freya Willens and Katie Pritchett, from the Dunbar Primary School team.

Mr Harper said, “Chess is the king and queen of all board games. It develops patience, planning, strategy, spatial awareness and concentration. It promotes quick thinking, the ability to formulate strategies and think ahead, and is arguably just as exciting and far more challenging than any computer game yet invented. It is also a game in which girls are excelling in Scotland. I am very happy to have been asked to this award which will hopefully help promote chess to more and more children.”

An Awards for All spokesperson said: “We are delighted to have awarded a grant of £5,000 to Chess Scotland, the organisation which widely promotes chess and its benefits to juniors nationwide. It is one of the many local community projects who will receive a slice of the winnings in the latest round of announcements made through the small grants scheme. The money will be used to carry out a fundamental review of the organisation in order to encourage more young people to get involved.”

There is now a large body of research, particularly in the US and more recently in Aberdeen (jointly sponsored by the Scottish Executive Education Department) showing that chess can be highly beneficial for young people:

  • Students involved in chess benefit educationally
  • Schools chess clubs prompt improvements in behavioural and social skills
  • Capacity for self-regulated learning improves
  • Chess promotes wider family and community benefits, including inter-generational networks and life-long learning skills

Chess cuts across age, gender, class and many other boundaries. Chess Scotland’s president, Donald Wilson, one of the country’s leading international arbiters, who regularly officiates at many junior (as well as senior) competitions in Scotland, will also attend on Friday and assist in extolling the game’s potential to promote “inclusion”.

Note on Chess Scotland

Chess Scotland is the recognised body for the promotion of chess in Scotland and within the World Chess Federation (FIDE). A mainly voluntary organisation, it organises national junior and senior team and individual championships, promotes participation in international championships and runs the national rating system.

More information about Chess Scotland can be found at, on its comprehensive national, international, schools and education pages. It offers a free advisory service to schools, including a range of chess teaching and organisational freeware, via dedicated schools contacts.


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