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Coventry Chess Academy

Coventry Chess Academy scoops prize pool at regional final for world's largest chess tournament

Twenty-one members from Coventry Chess Academy (CCA) recently competed against 200+ children in the Warwickshire Megafinal of the 2016 UK Schools Chess Challenge (UKSCC) – the largest chess tournament in the world! Their results were, in short, brilliant. CCA members took outright first place in 5 of the 12 age groups. Three of those did so without losing a match. Fourteen CCA members won 4 or more of their 6 matches and qualified for the national Gigafinal, placing them within the UK’s top 5% of children for their age groups.

Coventry Chess Academy group photo

Coventry Chess Academy players and their coaches from the University of Warwick, Paul Lam (centre), current undergraduate Hok Yin Chiu (second from left) and graduate Steven Turvey (far right).

Paul Lam, Founder of the CCA, says, “For the membership of a single club to achieve these results is remarkable and it was a tremendous collective effort by all at CCA who took part. To reach this stage of the competition is a fantastic achievement in its own right and this was underscored by the quality of chess played across the board.”

Paul recalls one of his highlights,

''The tournament’s round five clash between seven-year-old Sarthak Sanyal and six-year-old Arjun Vadgama, both CCA members was amazing. World Chess Federation (FIDE) Master Nick Thomas, a former chess Olympian, was in the audience and declared it one of the best games between a six-year-old and a seven-year-old that he had ever witnessed.''

Sarthak, who was already rated as a top ten UK player for his age group, eventually triumphed in a hard-fought battle, taking first place with a perfect 6/6. Arjun took outright second with 5/6 – a superb achievement considering he was the youngest participant in the whole competition.

The attitude and conduct demonstrated by CCA members as a group did not go unnoticed by parents, tournament organisers and other onlookers. They set a superb example; whether it was by remaining cheerful and positive after a loss, by respecting tournament etiquette during play or by showing modesty in victory.

The highest placed players go onto the national Gigafinal and finally the Terafinal, in which 54 of the original 50,000+ competitors compete for thousands of pounds worth of prize money and the coveted first place, known as the “Strat”.

Each year children in 12 age groups ranging from under-7 to under-18 enter the challenge which starts in schools and junior chess clubs across the country.

The Coventry Chess Academy is a social enterprise providing chess tuition for children aged 6 to 12. Its main aim is to use chess as a catalyst for social change by providing children with skills that empower them in and outside the classroom. Sessions run in Coventry every Saturday morning: 10–12 noon. For more information please visit:

Coventry Chess Academy