Take part in the largest UK junior chess competition

For players aged 5 – 18. All abilities welcome.

The UK Chess Challenge, proudly sponsored by Delancey, first took place in 1996 and has since grown into one of the largest junior chess tournaments in the world. The beauty of the event is that it welcomes all-comers from beginners to national champions and schools from all corners of the United Kingdom take part. There is nothing quite like this in the world of chess.

The competition is hugely popular with school teachers as everyone in the school can take part, win prizes and have fun with their friends. Players can then go through to the area Megafinal and, skills permitting, to the Gigafinals and Terafinal.

Over 1 million children have taken part since 1996! The list of previous winners includes several grandmasters and international players.

Why juniors take part in the UK Chess Challenge

  • Create their own chess history by taking part in the UK’s largest chess competition
  • Challenge themselves against other juniors in their age group
  • Win prizes and recognition for their efforts and success
  • Experience the thrill of competition 

Why schools take part in the UK Chess Challenge

  • Raise the profile of your chess club through partnering with the UK’s largest chess event
  • Attract new members to your chess club – kids love prizes!
  • Give your students the opportunity to show their talents against peers from across the UK
  • Gain kudos and publicity through the exploits of your young chess players

Tournament Overview

This is an annual multi-stage event with four stages

Stage 1) Preliminary – Schools’ Stage
Stage 2) Megafinals (quarterfinals)
Stage 3) Gigafinals (semifinals)
Stage 4) Terafinal (final)

There are five age-group sections (under 8s, under 10s, under 12s, under 14s, under 18s). Players play in their age group throughout each stage of the competition.

Each stage gets progressively harder with only the top junior players reaching the super-strong Terafinal. Prizes are available at each stage with the eventual winners being crowned UK Schools’ Chess Champions.

Stage 1 – Preliminary Schools’ Stage (Spring Term)

Play against players from the same school

Get warmed up for the county and national stages by playing in a competition with your school chess club peers. This is a fun and friendly way to experience tournament play and a great warmup for the latter stages. Our ‘tournament prize kits’ include prizes, certificates and tournament stationary making running the competition a doddle.

Stage 2 – Megafinals (March – June)

Play against players from other schools in the same region

The Megafinals are held regionally, often at County level, and are open to all players. Online Megafinals are also available for additional convenience. Players are now competing against peers from other schools. Regional prizes available including trophies, medals and certificates. 

Finish in the top half of the standings to qualify for the next stage – the Gigafinal.

Stage 3 – Gigafinals (July – August)

Play against the top 25% of players in the country

Things are hotting up and only the strongest chess players will survive the Gigafinals and qualify for the final round – the Terafinal. These are larger national level one day events. Previous venues have included Sandown Racecourse (Surrey), Grace Academy (Solihull) and Orleans Park School (Twickenham).

Stage 4 – Terafinal (October)

Play against elite UK junior players

The Grand Finale. This is the strongest junior chess competition of the year and it is considered a significant achievement to make it this far. The 2021 event was held at the beautiful Blenheim Palace and saw just 60 remaining players battling out to be recognised as the UK Schools’ Chess Champion.

Who is the UK Chess Challenge for ?

  • UK based juniors who are 18 years old or younger
  • Juniors who enjoy chess and want the excitement of playing other UK juniors
  • Junior chess players of all standards (beginner through to national champion). Remember there is recognition for everyone’s achievements and the strongest players get to compete for national honours
  • UK based schools who have a chess club set up and want to increase engagement
  • UK based junior chess clubs
  • Teachers and coaches looking for fun and challenging competitions for their students

Who is the UK Chess Challenge NOT for ?

  • Juniors who do not know the rules or who are unwilling or unable to learn before the competition begins
  • Players who do not enjoy competitive environments

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Who can take part?
A: Any individual aged 18 or younger who is based in the UK can take part. Any UK based school or junior chess club can take part.

Q: Do I need to qualify for each stage?
A: Entry to the Megafinals is open to all players. Players must then qualify for each subsequent stage by reaching the qualifying score.

Q: When does it take place?
A: The competition is in four stages:
January – April > Schools’ Stage
March – June > Megafinals
July > Gigafinals
October > Terafinal

Q: Is the competition in-person or online?
A: It’s a hybrid event meaning there are both in-person and online events. The majority of events are in-person.

Q: Why are the competition stages named after binary prefixes?
A: No one quite remembers – but the competitors seem to like it so the names stuck around!

Get Involved


Get started by holding your own competition in school during spring term


Register your child today for the 2024 competition