About the UK Chess Challenge
The UK Chess Challenge first took place in 1996 and has since grown into the largest children’s chess tournament 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.
These tournaments are massively popular because everyone in the school can take part and everyone wins prizes. The best players can then go through to the area Megafinal and, skills permitting, to the Gigafinals and National Terafinal.
Stage 1 takes part in the school during Spring Term and every player plays seven rounds of chess. Typically the tournament is played once a week either during a lunch break or in an after-school session. Some schools prefer to hold all seven rounds in one sitting – perhaps at a weekend. There is generally no travelling involved as the chess games are played at school.
Schools and clubs that enter receive a “tournament pack” which contains prizes and materials such as mascots, certificates, badges, posters, a trophy, tournament charts and pairing cards – all of which help to run a fun tournament and keep the children engaged and motivated. The rules of the tournament have been kept simple, so that a teacher with only a basic knowledge of chess should be able to run it! All ages can take part and the qualifiers for the Megafinals are the top scorers in the tournament, plus leading girls and boys in 12 separate age groups from under 7 up to under 18.
School entry starts from £25 (+VAT) for 10 players. Each additional block of 10 players is £10. School packs are distributed in batches and you will be informed when your pack is on its way. The pack contains everything you will need to run a tournament in your school or club.
Stage 2 is the ‘Megafinals’. These are regional events ran by independent local organisers who also run other chess events in their region. Parents are responsible for registering their child for the Megafinal – although schools are also able to do this by contacting us. Fees for the Megafinals will vary by region but on average are between £15 and £20.
Megafinals take place over one day and are 6 rounds using chess clocks. For many children this is their first experience of playing chess outside of their school. Players who make the qualification score (or who win their section) qualify for the next stage – the Gigafinals. Parents are responsible for registering their children online.
Stage 3 is the Gigafinals. In 2019 we had three gigafinals in Manchester (Wright Robinson College), Solihull (Grace Academy), Twickenham (Orleans Park School) and Esher (Sandown Racecourse). These are national level events where the best players compete to win their place at the Terafinal. These are large events with side activities taking place. Children finishing first in their age group will qualify for the Terafinal.
The fourth stage of the challenge is ‘The Challengers’. These events are for those players who just missed out on qualifying directly to the Terafinal from the Gigafinal and in effect are a last chance to qualify for the Terafinal.
The Challengers are split into U8, U10, U12, U14 and U18 sections (similar to the Terafinal) and the male and female winners of these sections qualify for the Terafinal.
The fifth and final stage of the tournament is the ‘Terafinal’. This is the grand finale where the best players from all corners of the UK come to battle it out over the chessboard to be crowned ‘UK Schools’ Chess Champion’ for their age category (under 8, 10, 12, 14 and 18). The Terafinal has live boards where the moves are broadcast live through our partner chess24.com and we also have live Grandmaster commentary.
The Terafinal takes place over two days at a quality hotel where we aim to put on a great event for players and parents alike.