OAT Chess Championship

Year funded: 2020/2021
Academy/Organisation: OAT Academies
Area of Focus: Hobbies, life experience and adventure

Project Summary

This project involved facilitating student and staff chess competitions via the online platform Chesskid and providing funding to start and develop chess clubs across OAT academies.

The student chess championship had a total of 64 secondary students from 5 academies participating and two students from Ormiston Bushfield Academy were named the joint winners of the competition.  The staff chess championship had 21 OAT staff participating with a staff member from Ormiston Bushfield Academy named as the winner. The tournaments took place on ChessKid, a platform that allows students to play the game and also learn more about chess and develop their skills.

The other aspect of the project of providing funding allowed 15 academies to buy chess boards, clocks and COVID safe equipment to develop or start a chess club. The project also involved an online chess talk by Lorin D’Costa, International Chess Master, which was attended by 23 students across 5 OAT academies.

Challenges and Lessons Learnt 

The main challenge was that due to the COVID-19 pandemic the chess tournaments were played on the platform ChessKid. ChessKid was described by project planners as a useful tool but one that has various limitations. On the platform, tournaments can’t be amended or deleted once they are created and a list of clubs can’t be exported. However, ChessKid were good at responding to queries from the delivery team and suggesting improvements for the team. However, as in-person learning returns and students are playing chess in person, staff will require more strategic and practical support for chess tournaments.

Another challenge was that after 3 years of interest from academies in funding chess clubs this level of interest has now dropped. There may be some necessity for funding but the organisers believe making funding available for up to 20 academies is no longer necessary and that having a small pot of funding available for academies would be more effective.

The last lesson learnt was that primary academies need to be engaged more effectively as no primary academies took up the offer to have a chess tournament. One of the programme managers aims for 2021-22 is to increase primary student engagement with chess competitions and games.

Beneficiary Feedback 

Staff Feedback- On the Chess Tournament:

  • Great fun! Thoroughly enjoyed myself :)”
  • “Different time constraints, 2/1 or 3/2 for example, or longer time constraints such as 10 minutes to accommodate different types of players.

Student feedback- On the Chess Clubs:

  • “I joined the chess club because I want to become better and I enjoy a challenge.”