Chess to be recognised as a Sport by Sport England!

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Chess should be recognised as a Sport by Sport England.  

This can be done if Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Jeremy Wright and the English Chess Federation take action to get this actioned by Sport England. 

In meantime, Mr Wright  please make a pledge and start to invest money to chess in England, to sponsor The English Chess Junior Academy, and help the best players with training and coaching and funding for international trips. 

Please sign the petition, the more signatures, the better. 

You can contact Jeremy directly 
Parliamentary House of Commons

London, SW1A 0AA

Tel: 020 7219 2008

Jubilee House, Smalley Place, Kenilworth, CV8 1QG

Tel: 01926 853650

Web & Social media


English Chess federation please contact Jeremy Wright and get the recognition chess deserves, as well as funding for Juniors and Adult chess players.


Tracey Crouch- please help!

House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA

Tel: 020 7219 7203

6-8 Revenge Road, Lordswood, Chatham, ME5 8UD

Tel: 01634 673180
Department for Culture, Media & Sport, 100 Parliament Street , London, SW1A 2BQ

Tel: 020 7211 6000

Web & Social media



I care because my son Christopher Tombolis is the 2017 under 12 British Chess champion. 

He trains almost every day. He plays in tournaments all over England most weekends.  Some of his chess games are 3-4 hours long.

I care because 6 million people play chess in the uk.

I care because I love chess and what It means to millions of people.

 I’ve met so many amazing, influential, smart, dedicated, passionate people through chess. I've made lots of fantastic friends for life.

Chess is one of the most challenging and mentally exhausting sports. Chess helps develop problem solving skills. It helps the biggest muscle in our body- the brain- to improve. Chess improves verbal and cognitive skills. Chess Preserves Mental Acuity, improves mental skills and teaches efficiency, problem solving and planning. 

My son’s heart rate goes through the roof when he plays chess. When he is allowed he monitors his heart rate With a fitbit, he clearly exercises when playing.  He is passionate and loves the sport of chess. He enjoys the competition and being part of a team. 

He plays for himself, as part of county team, local leagues, 4 Nations League, Congresses, national and International tournaments. He is a member of the English Chess federation Junior Academy. 

It would mean the world to him if England finally decided to join more than 100 countries in the world and declare chess a sport.

Wouldn’t it be amazing to have the support of Sport England for the top players in the country, and send them to represent England on world tours or even the Olympics one day? 



Chess preserves mental acuity in the elderly.While chess has already been proven to be highly beneficial for kids, studies have shown that it can help improve the mental acuity of the elderly as well. Chess hones an elderly players ability to determine cause and effect patterns, analyze the relationship between two ideologies, and understand key concepts. As such, chess has proven to be highly effective in protecting the elderly from neuro-degenerative conditions like dementia and Alzheimer disease.

 Please see this article by Sighart Golf In Journal of Sports Medicine & Doping Studies, for those interested in the science of the sport of chess.

For anyone not convinced keep on reading; 

A question of sport
Guest blog
6th Aug 2015

With chess missing out on the shortlist for inclusion at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, John Foley, Non-Executive Director of the English Chess Federation, takes a look at why chess isn't recognised as a sport in the UK and the case for change.

Playing games is a natural part of human life yet it has become fashionable for leaders of the sports bodies to decry the rise of gaming when our young people could be active outdoors. The English Chess Federation takes a more positive view towards games. We advocate strategy games rather than “shoot ‘em up” games where adrenaline may be high but the intellectual content is often low. Chess is a classic strategy game which challenges the finest minds in the world. It is not recognised as a sport in the UK and receives no public funding. It is worth reminding ourselves why the International Olympic Committee and over 100 countries recognise chess as a sport.

1.Competitive. The objective of a game of chess is to win. Chess involves a relentless struggle against one’s opponent. There is probably no sporting activity in which two people are locked in a competitive struggle of such intensity for such a sustained period of time. One lapse of concentration and suddenly a good position is transformed into a losing one. Each game is a drama in which the outcome is uncertain until the very end. When recently interviewed by journalist Dominic Lawson, the world chess champion Magnus Carlsen said that chess was “definitely a sport”.

2. Well established. The world championship has been organised since 1886 and our national federation was founded in 1904. Chess competitions are organised at every level: schools, universities, counties, cities, leagues, junior, senior, European, World, etc. Six million people play chess in England each year according to pollsters YouGov. 125,000 children learn chess in school each year.

3. Physical fitness. Peak mental condition requires being in good physical condition. Players need to concentrate totally for up to seven hours. As the stress and tension builds up, blood pressure, pulse and respiration rates all increase. Contenders for the world championships have nutritionists and fitness coaches.

4. Behaviour code. Players are penalised for poor sportsmanship e.g. for refusing to shake hands with their opponent. Potential cheating is taken seriously. Mobile phones are banned. Players are prohibited on their move from leaving the playing area. There is an anti-doping policy.

5. Olympic Recognition. Chess has been recognised as a sport by the International Olympic Committee since 2000. It was an event at the Asian Games in 2006 in Doha and again in Guangzhou in 2010. It is also being considered for inclusion in the Pan-American Games. Tokyo is preparing bids for the 2020 summer Olympics and has invited chess and bridge to apply for inclusion. Russia is trying to bring chess to the winter Olympics.

6. European Recognition. Chess is recognised as a sport in 24 out of 28 member states of the European Union. The exceptions are the UK, Ireland, Belgium and Sweden. In Sweden, it is likely that chess will be included from next year. Support has come from the Swedish sports coaches organisation which admires the mental discipline of chess.

7. Global game. Chess is played around the world irrespective of age, race, gender, income or language. People with physical disabilities play chess. Blind people play chess. People with advanced motor neurone disease play chess: Professor Stephen Hawking played chess with his children.

8. Mental component. All sports have a mental component. Ultimately competitive sports may be construed as strategy games differing only in their physical manifestation. Commentators are prone to similes such as: curling = chess on ice; bowls = chess on grass; snooker = chess with balls, and so on.

9. National accolade. World chess champions have won their national Sportsman of the Year competition including Magnus Carlsen (Norway), Vishy Anand (India) and Veselin Topalov (Bulgaria).

10. Player ranking system. The player ranking system was developed for chess in 1960 and has been adopted by many other sports including American football, baseball, basketball, hockey, korfball, rugby and golf. Football and cricket use a related formula.

England should be proud of its chess tradition. The first book printed in English by William Caxton was on chess. All official chess games must use the style of pieces designed in England by Nathaniel Cook in 1849 and named after Howard Staunton who was the strongest player in the world at that time.

England has performed with distinction at the World Chess Olympiads. We had a strong team at the Buenos Aires Olympiad in 1939 during which WW2 broke out. The team returned home where they worked with Alan Turing to break the German Engima codes. England came third in 1976 and regularly came second in 1980s behind the mighty Soviet Union. As recently as twenty years ago, England finished fourth behind Russia, Ukraine and the USA but since then we have declined - in the most recent Olympiad at Tromso in 2014, England came 28th.

All but one of the 27 teams that placed above England recognise chess as a sport. The exception is the USA which funds chess privately. Governments actively support chess as it improves academic performance and symbolises a country’s intellectual strength. China classifies chess as a sport and in less than two decades has gone from nowhere to winning the recent Chess Olympiad and producing the women’s world champion, Hou Yifan. The next open world champion is expected to be Chinese.

Chess has health benefits. There is an emerging awareness of the effectiveness of chess in delaying the onset of Alzheimers. Chess promotes social integration as players travel to a venue and interacting socially. Chess presents a welcome social activity to many children who are on the autistic spectrum. Many Aspergers children find chess opens up for them a whole new world which conventional sport does not. For many adults, chess provides them with meaning in their lives.

Recognition as a sport does not bring any obligation of funding but it would open some doors. Many public funding bodies and foundations only fund officially recognised sports e.g. the national lottery. Chess would be able to obtain shared access to sports facilities as it does in other countries. Our students would no longer be prevented from playing in the European and World University Chess Championships because of the condition that the national sports body should recognise chess as a sport. We would no longer have to look at other countries seek funding from the Erasmus+ sports programme for chess, a possibility not open to us.

Recognition of chess will not open the floodgates to video games. The mindsports (including bridge and chess) are well-established, public-domain, abstract strategy games played competitively throughout the world using one canonical form. By contrast, the video game market has numerous franchises (e.g. Grand Theft Auto) each of which spawns many game titles which are of short-term duration and which typically use proprietary technology.

The English Bridge Union is going to court to have bridge recognised as a sport. We wish them well.

John Foley is a Non-Executive Director of the English Chess Federation and Director of Training and Education for the charity Chess in Schools and Communities. He is chairman of Kingston Chess Club and runs the British Chess Magazine squad in the National Chess League. In his spare time he likes to play bridge. He keeps fit by cycling.







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