Eyes down as budding Kasparovs do battle

SCORES of Limerick children gathered at Villiers school yesterday for a mind-challenging Easter camp.

With some as young as five years old, they spent hours poring over chess boards, working out how to advance to a checkmate coup de grace.

Chess is a fast-growing pastime among children in Limerick.

Niall Kelly, aged 10, from Manister was one of those taking part in the camp.

Last weekend he came third in the Irish junior chess championships.

Niall, who is a star scrum-half with Bruff under-10s rugby side, said: “I love chess and I have made friends all over the country and abroad through playing them online. I play chess with my brothers Jason, 11, and Andrew, seven. It mixes great with rugby.”

His dad, Ray Kelly, said as well as having great fun and enjoyment playing chess, it has other benefits.

He said: “I have noticed that with Niall his grades at school have risen remarkably since he advanced at chess. His concentration doing homework is greater and he is better able to think through things like maths.”

The chess camp at Villiers was organised by John Alfred who runs the Adare Chess Club.

He quit his job as an electronics engineer 10 years ago to build his chess promotion business ChessZ.

John runs weekly chess sessions at Adare Heritage Centre to cater for the growing demand. His son, Jeffrey, was crowned Irish under-10 chess champion for 2010.

He said: “As well as Jeffrey, another member of the club, Liam Murphy from Dooradoyle won the under-14 Irish championship,” said John.

Some of the participants in the Easter camp were as young as five.

John said: “They would have been taught the basic moves by their parents. Younger children are inclined to play fast, but they can improve very quickly.”

More in this section