The UK Chess Challenge began in 1996 and was an immediate success, with 700 schools entering, involving approximately 23,000 children. By 2006 numbers competing had more than trebled to 74,000. The structure of the tournament is simple, allowing the most inexperienced players to compete in the early stages, yet testing the mettle of the finest at the end.
The tournament begins every Spring Term, and continues over four stages and eight months. In the first stage children compete week by week in schools all over the UK (currently the number of schools taking part is over 2,000). Every child is able to win prizes, whether badges, gold spots, mascots, trophies and even baseball caps, so every child has something to play for.
Teachers and parents comment on the enormous enthusiasm amongst the children for their badges, gold spots and mascots. Junior chess clubs are springing up all over the country, both in schools and outside; numbers in existing clubs have mushroomed. All this shows that chess is one of the most enjoyable and exciting ways for children to learn how to think.