No fool's mate on this board

30th May 2008 at 01:00
There's no such thing as losing a game of chess - there is only win, draw or learn
There's no such thing as losing a game of chess - there is only win, draw or learn.

Christine MacGregor, organiser of the Chess Scotland Primary Team Championship, holds by that aphorism and saw it put into practice by the tournament's 84 participants last Sunday.

It was an intense day: games, spread across Dunblane's Victoria Hall, started at 10.30am and final matches were not completed until 4.45pm. Yet despite the deep concentration required and the national titles at stake, there was no sign of tantrums from those whose efforts did not yield victory.

"Everybody shakes hands and there's no stomping off when they lose," says Mrs MacGregor, who stresses the importance of dignity in defeat and learning from mistakes.

It is not the only important lesson chess provides: she also points to improved thinking skills and concentration; the independence gained from making one's own decisions at the board; and the discipline of playing within the rules and not running out of time when playing against the clock.

The tournament proves that chess is inclusive. It attracts all levels, from beginners to internationals; and state and private schools. Mrs MacGregor also points out that it gives pupils who may not excel at sport or music the pride of representing their school.

Chess is also reaching all corners of Scotland, thanks to imaginative initiatives like the Dinosaur Chess computer software featured in The TESS (March 28), which is encouraging children as young as four to play.

Participants at Sunday's tournament came from as far afield as Golspie in the north and the Borders, and there was an east-west split of the top prizes: Kirkhill Primary, East Renfrewshire, won the all-primary section, while Edinburgh's Sciennes Primary emerged with the P5 and under prize.

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