Our capital city certainly lives up to its hype. London is one of the world's financial hubs and a model for higher education. This city has some of the highest-ranked universities so, naturally, undergraduates around the globe work hard to secure their spot at the London School of Economics or King's College.
It's not just London's many universities and colleges that give people the impression of intellectualism. The city is filled with museums and theatres and, if one felt so inclined, they might attend a session of Parliament to witness a debate.
Did you know that British Parliamentary Debate is a staple of competitions in schools around the world?
Another competition many schools worldwide engage in is chess, except those are called tournaments. In these events, chess players face off in round after round until, by elimination, only two players remain. That game's outcome may determine local, regional, and national chess champions.
Like London, chess has been around a long time - millennia, in fact. And, like chess, the fascination for our capital city never wears off.
Today, that game of strategy is enjoying a resurgence in popularity, thanks in part to the Netflix series The Queen's Gambit. Have you caught the chess bug, too?
Let Superprof show you where you can find chess lessons in London.
Chess Lessons in School
Humans are playful sorts and none are more playful than children. In fact, babies just a few months old engage in play - not because they have any understanding of the concept of fun but because that's how they learn.
Isn't it odd, then, that once they start school, all consideration towards playing goes out the window?
For a long time, people thought that school learning was serious business and that learners should cast aside any desire they might have for amusement and recreation. It's a good thing that that particular tide is changing.
Today, educators are finally clueing in to what kids have known all along: that playing is learning. Now, with school administrators fully on the bandwagon, they've found just the game to help kids advance their intellectual capabilities.
Schools all across London and everywhere else in the UK are partnering with groups that bring chess lessons to the classroom. And why not?
Chess helps students develop their cognitive abilities because those skills are needed to play chess well. Remembering gambits and openings, figuring out the best moves and reasoning how their opponent might respond are all thought processes that students don't always get to fully develop in a standard school setting.
Chess for Schools and Communities (CSC) is one group particularly active throughout the UK; in London, the go-to chess initiative is The Chess Academy.
Their appropriately-named Chess in Schools programme is a full curriculum designed to explain the history of chess, each piece's particulars including its value, power and function when playing, and chess notation. With those basics out of the way, they start in on chess theory, particularly focusing on openings and the endgame.
And then, under the coaches' watchful eyes, the kids get their crack at the board.
Because you're never too young to learn how to play chess, Chess in Schools (and CSC) offer chess lessons to primary and secondary schools. However, if you'd prefer private lessons, their chess coaches are happy to oblige.
If you do think that five- to seven-year-olds are too young to understand this king of games, one British national chess champion who gives chess lessons in Manchester would heartily disagree. She started playing when she was just five years old...
If Chess in Schools or CSC hasn't yet partnered with your child's school, you might talk to the principal or parents' group. What a great way to help your kids become better students!
Chess Lessons With a Champion
Naturally, kids aren't the only learners; we adults learn new things all the time, too, as demonstrated by all of the aspiring chess players looking for lessons. As with school-aged children, adults can build their cognitive skills and improve their powers of concentration by playing chess.
You might think: "Why would anyone sit around playing games when there's so much going on?"
Playing chess is beneficial in many ways. Besides building those aforementioned cognitive skills, your training as a chess player will help you cultivate patience and hone your decision-making capabilities. Should you move your kingside rook or would moving your knight be better?
As you learn to strategize your way toward your endgame, you will find your thinking will become more methodical and deliberate, and your gambits more assured. Nobody could coach you through that evolution quite like Ernest Ignatovic.
Ernest started playing chess when he was just seven years old and, by the time he was 12, he was winning tournaments. After his family relocated to London, he studied maths at Queen Mary University but, as engaged as his mind must have been - maths is no easy subject to master, he continued to play chess throughout.
Today, he coaches chess one-to-one, passing on all of his chess expertise while continuing to participate in chess tournaments. He holds an English Chess Federation (ECF) grade of 165 - by no means shabby and, when not teaching or taking part in chess tournaments, he can be found in any of London's many chess clubs.
We'll talk about them in just a mo...
Ernest's lessons are engaging and thought-provoking but they are not free. Some might even consider their cost a bit steep, especially compared with other private chess tutors.
Chess Lessons with a Private Tutor
Disclaimer: these lessons aren't free either but, if a Superprof chess tutor is teaching you, your first hour will most likely be free.
Wait... Superprof gives chess lessons, too?
Superprof has hundreds of chess masters scattered around the world, with 60 in London alone. With Superprof, you have your choice of chess tutors, from those with high EFC grades to those who've earned their FIDA ranking by winning tournaments all over the world.
FIDA is the International Chess Federation, in case you didn't know.
Most Superprof chess tutors offer their first lesson for free, a sort of try-on session to see if you like their teaching and think you will learn well from them. And, to make things even easier, they have no trouble delivering chess lessons online.
That's especially helpful, considering these pandemic times we're living in...
Superprof chess tutors have one advantage that many other chess masters teaching the game lack: student testimonials. For instance, Bernard, a Superprof who gives chess lessons in Leeds has multiple 5-star ratings given by the students he's coached.
Care to find out how many London Superprof chess tutors have such a rating?
Chess Clubs in London
For those not in the know, a chess club may be either a place dedicated to the passion and playing of chess or a group of chess enthusiasts who regularly gather to play, perhaps in their local community centre or some other public place. Pubs, restaurants and even libraries often host these events.
London is home to some of the finest and oldest chess clubs in the country. By that, we mean establishments dedicated to the pursuit of chess and all chess-related activities including socialising and celebrating a big tournament win.
Some of these are chess venues that only incidentally serve food and drink while others are historical houses of chess that work in much the same way as the gentlemen's clubs of old.
The only other UK city we found such venerable outfits upholding time-honoured chess traditions was in Glasgow.
Whether you're a beginner chess player or a chess grandmaster visiting from abroad, you have to drop in on these chess clubs:
- The College in Holborn, the venue of the World Chess Championship
- The Chess and Bridge Shop
- The Battersea Chess Club
- The Citadines Hotel, Holborn
- Casual Chess: much less formal than other London chess clubs
- The Chess Club in Mayfair is one of London's newest chess clubs
- Simpson's-In-The-Strand - this London historic chess club was established in 1828
You likely won't find anyone advertising coaching at any of these clubs - or, for that matter, at any other chess club in London. What you will find is players passionate about their game and happy to show off their moves, whether aggressively or more casually, perhaps a game between friendly rivals.
What good is that for the beginner chess player?
Besides soaking up the chess vibe and meeting other chess aficionados, you can watch players more advanced than you get their game on and, if you feel brave on any given night, you may challenge someone to a game yourself. You'll likely also find plenty of books about chess, from biographies of chess greats like Gary Kasparov and Bobby Fischer to books about the history of chess.
And, who knows? You may find a chess mentor, too. Not exactly a tutor but a more experienced player who would suggest trying new openings or give you tips on how to attack with certainty.
Playing chess is intellectually stimulating and can bring its devotees a lifetime of enjoyment. Don't those sound like good reasons to learn how to play?
Now discover where aspiring chess players in Birmingham go to learn chess moves...