ChessFest returns to Trafalgar Square and Liverpool ONE for a day of chess celebrations


Chess in Schools and Communities (CSC), a charity that uses chess to enhance children’s educational and social development, is announcing the return of the one-day takeover of Trafalgar Square and Chavasse Park at Liverpool ONE on Sunday 17th July as part of ChessFest – a three-day event which encourages kids and adults to get ‘on board’ with the world’s oldest game.

10,000 visitors are expected at Trafalgar Square for the free event, which is open to all. Trafalgar Square will be covered in chess sets, the centrepiece of which will be a giant board occupied by 32 actors dressed as fantasy chess pieces, who will replay iconic games from chess history.

Members of the public will be able to challenge the former British champion, Grandmaster Gawain Jones, ranked in the world’s top 100, and other England internationals in simultaneous matches. There will also be free tuition from professional chess teachers, with separate teaching zones for adults and children.

A giant screen will broadcast live chess matches played online between children from London and Liverpool, as well as a ‘Battle of the Prodigies’ between the USA and England. England will be represented by 7-year-old chess geniuses, Kushal Jakhria and Bodhana Sivanandan who both won multiple gold medals at the World Schools competition in Rhodes earlier this year. The inspiring duo mastered the game during the days of lockdown and are now taking the UK chess scene by storm.

The public will also be able to challenge Kushal and Bodhana in the ‘Are you smarter than a 7-year-old challenge’.

The opening of ChessFest will see 300 children from 30 schools around the UK in the charity’s Classroom Chess programme invited to Manchester Square Gardens in London on Tuesday July 12th and Wednesday July 13th for a day of chess fun. This closed school event, will see the children try on 15th and 16th-century century armour from the Wallace Collection and become real ‘knights’ on the chess board, alongside tournaments and chess lessons.

ChessFest aims to build on the surge in popularity of chess after the success of Netflix show ‘Queen’s Gambit’ and showcase its universal appeal as we approach ‘International Chess Day’ on 20th July.

Sunday’s Trafalgar Square public event:

Free chess lessons for children and adults from professional chess teachers and top UK players
‘The World Giant Chess Championship’ – 10 giant chess boards for people to play on
A human chess game based on fantasy characters performed by professional actors
100s of chess tables for children and chess fans to play each other
Challenge a Grandmaster in a simultaneous or at speed chess
Blindfold Chess exhibition
Giant screens broadcasting online games between players in London, Liverpool, and New York

The event will also celebrate the 50th anniversary of the ‘World Champion Chess Match’ between Bobby Fischer (USA) and Boris Spassky (USSR), a seminal event where the mercurial American ended 25 years of Soviet chess dominance in a match set against the backdrop of the cold war that gripped the world.

ChessFest also coincides with the 25th Anniversary of Gary Kasparov vs IBM’s Deep Blue, which was the first defeat of a reigning world chess champion by a computer under tournament conditions.

ChessFest hopes to leave a legacy for London as CSC will work with local councils to install giant chess sets and concrete chess tables in London parks to enable chess to be played all year round as in New York, Paris, Amsterdam, and other cities.