When Chess meets Business: the Pro-Biz Cup in London

by Sabrina Chevannes
12/9/2016 – One of the many attractions of the London Chess Classic is the Pro-Biz Cup. It offers businessmen the chance to team up with top grandmasters and top grandmasters the chance to discuss strategy with non-chess-related strategy experts. This year's Pro-Biz Cup was again a lot of fun and very competitive!

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The London Chess Classic 2016 Kicks Off

Photos: Lennart Ootes

A friendly top-class game

Most people think that the London Chess Classic kicks off in a couple of hours and that it is just about 10 guys going head to head in a classical round robin. However, the festival is about much more than this main event and actually started yesterday with the Pro-Biz Cup.

The Pro-Biz Cup is a fantastic event where businessmen bid for the opportunity to play with their favourite Grandmaster from the Classic. The highest 6 bids win and all proceeds go to the charity Chess in Schools and Communities.

What is Chess in Schools and Communities?

Known as CSC for short, this charity has been providing free chess lessons to inner city schools for over 7 years. They provide each school with free chess equipment and a professional chess coach, who comes in to teach each week. In addition to this, the children are invited to regular local chess tournaments and national events held at prestigious venues.

Chess in Schools and Communities has produced some amazing results over the last few years and thousands more children in the UK play chess because of them. They have also secured local funding for their program and are recognised by may notable organisations as a very worthy cause.

Due to the continued contributions, CSC have been able to provide these children with outstanding opportunities, including even participating in a chess event in the Houses of Parliament.

It is important to realise that the London Chess Classic is not just a tournament for elite players, but is all about raising money towards this charity. Proceeds for the event go towards providing more opportunities for the children, helping CSC expand and reach children worldwide. So, if you can, why not pop along and see the chess action live this week and help contribute to the worthy cause?!

The Pro-Biz Cup

Back to the action of the Pro-Biz Cup…

The event was held in the stunning RAC club in Pall Mall, which has a great deal of chess history associated with it. They host a regular chess club in their facilities and have a rather strong team at that! The Grandmasters pose for a photo below, in front of a stunning chess painting.

The painting was created in 1997 for a special centenary celebration of the club.
See how many famous faces you can name in the painting!

This year, the Pro-Biz teams were as follows:

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave & Jeremy Hodgson

Vladimir Kramnik & Justin Baptie

Hikaru Nakamura & Rajko Vujatovic

Wesley So & Gary O’Grady

Vishy Anand & Terry Chapman

Anish Giri & Rafic Daud

Despite it being a friendly, charitable warm-up to the main event, all players involved were taking it very seriously and were highly competitive. Considering Terry Chapman is actually a former member of England’s Senior team, the event was at quite a high level, even from the “Biz” side!

Both Kramnik and Anand’s team won their first two games, meaning they had to fight for the trophy in the last round.

The game was really quite dramatic and went into a complicated ending, which was played out during a time scramble, with several spectators looking on in excitement.

Eventually, the team of Vishy Anand and Terry Chapman came out victorious and were presented the Pro-Biz Cup trophy and the ECF Book of the Year, Chess For Life, by Matthew Sadler and Natasha Regan.

However, this was not the only action going on at the RAC, as the other Grandmasters were giving simuls and masterclasses, and of course, signing autographs for their fans!

All in all, it was a great way to kick off what is my favourite event of the year.

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Born in 1986 in Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham, England, Sabrina now lives in London where she is managing director of the London Academy of Chess and Education. With over 300 members of the academy, she has one of the largest following of students in the UK. Sabrina is a Women International Master and an active chess player.


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