Liverpool can already claim to be the UK’s capital of music and football . . . but chess?
Tom Calverley reports
MOVES to make Liverpool the chess capital of Britain begin next week when the city’s World Museum hosts one of Europe’s most prestigious tournaments.
Organisers believe the ten-day European Individual Chess Championship showcases the strongest array of talent seen in a competition on British soil for 20 years.
One of the favourites to win the tournament is Nigel Short, the second strongest British player of all time, who challenged legendary Russian legend Gary Kasparov for the right to be crowned the world’s top player in the early 90s.
The championship is sponsored by tourism and investment body The Mersey Partnership and the Liverpool Culture Company as part of a campaign to position Liverpool as one of the world’s leading chess cities in the run up to 2008.
Professor David Robertson of John Moores University is chairman of the Liverpool Chess Foundation which is overseeing the tournament.
He said: “A year ago we had the idea to broaden the basis of the 2008 Capital of Culture year by staging a number of international chess tournaments to put Liverpool on a par with other European chess cities, such as Turin, Dresden, Zurich and Budapest.
“Following this EU Championship, we have an even bigger, more prestigious grandmaster tournament planned for Liverpool’s 800th birthday next year and in 2008 we are planning to host the biggest tournament on British soil in 100 years.
“Other European cities have found chess to be a relatively cheap and extremely helpful way of boosting their image around the world.”
“With the exception of football, chess is the only game with a global reach. It is a completely inclusive game, neutral to gender, class and ethnicity. We want to use it to create a new image alongside the familiar images of Liverpool, selling the finer qualities of the city.
The initial programme runs for three years but we hope to establish a legacy that will make Liverpool into Britain’s premier chess city.
This tournament is underpinned by a schools strategy to rebuild the Primary Schools League in Liverpool and to reintroduce chess at a secondary level. Other countries use chess to boost scholarly performance and we want to build on the educational value that it offers.
The things you need to succeed in chess are the same sorts of things you need to achieve at school and universities – concentration, perseverance, patience and the desire to win. There are no excuses in chess, you can’t dumb it down.”
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