BRITAIN'S most talented young chess players will battle it out this weekend to win a pound;14,000-a-year place at one of the country's leading public school.
In the first event of its kind, the UK's top 45 under-16 players will gather for a week-long tournament at Battle Abbey, East Sussex, with the winner walking away with a two-year sixth-form scholarship to North Yorkshire's Roman Catholic Ampleforth College.
The school is offering a pound;7,750-a-year scholarship - half the annual fees - plus cash prize of pound;2,000.
Peter Turner, director of junior chess at the British Chess Federation, said:
"This is the first time youngsters have had the chance to play for such a valuable and unusual priz. We hope the event can become a regular fixture on the chess calendar."
The school has said it will consider topping up the scholarship with a bursary, subject to the winner's family's financial status.
Father Leo Chamberlain,Ampleforth's headteacher, said:
"It is right that we should extend encouragement of a measured and intellectual game that knows no language or privilege barriers, has abiding appeal but is less well-endowed."
Oakham School in Leicestershire already provides bursaries to outstanding chess talents and, starting in 2001, Millfield School in Somerset will also be offering an annual chess scholarship that will cover half the school's pound;15,855-a-year fees.