On Sunday, July 13, Millais student, Lucy Bennet-Stevens won the Under 11 Girls Chess Gigafinal for the South of England.
This was a consecutive win for Lucy who took the title last year too, aged just 10! However, this is not a new game for Lucy, who has been playing chess since the age of 7. She was thrilled with her success and has high hopes for her future chess playing career.
Prior to her victory this year, Lucy had played 3 rounds, all of which she won. In the end she was placed as overall champion with the high score of 6, winning both the title and prize money of £100.
As a reporter on the way to meet this Chess genius, I became curious to find out just how good she is. Foolishly, I challenged her to a game; suffice to say it was checkmate in less than two minutes!
Lucy said: “I have always found chess an enjoyably challenging game! It was introduced to me by my dad at a very young age and I pursued my interest even further when joining my primary school’s chess club at Maidenbower School in Crawley. I am ecstatic with my success, but realise I couldn’t have come this far without the support of my team and my family.”
Lucy plays for the Sussex Junior Chess Club, and has also played for England on three occasions in the past year. She is currently one of the top five players in the country in her age group for girls.
The competition is organised by the Delancey UK Schools Chess Challenge, which aims to spread the educational values of chess throughout all ages and groups of society. The competition has been running for almost 20 years with about half a million children introduced to the game during that time. Every year about 50,000 children from 1,500 schools take part! There are 4 stages, culminating in the Terafinal where £20,000 in prize money is available to be won.
Mike Basman, Chief Organiser of the tournament, commented: “The importance of the game of chess is that it develops one’s analytical power, decision making ability and ability to withstand pressure to a remarkable degree. A person who takes up chess finds that they can succeed in many areas of life including politics and business. I would advise any children wanting to get involved in chess to encourage their schools to take part in the Chess Challenge, because absolute beginners can play and they are gradually led to take part in more demanding competitions.”
Lucy will face even more challenges in the future, as she continues with chess. Still stereotyped as a game for men, there being a higher ratio of male competitors to female at 5:1. I am sure that she will also combat this conception and prove that Chess isn’t just for the boys!
Report by Cara Exall, Millais reporter. Picture by Beth Bradbury, Millais student photographer.