Sunday, July 7: Great Chess Fest in London

by Press release
7/3/2024 – Once a year the English school chess initiative "Chess in Schools and Communities" organises a chess festival in the heart of London, in Trafalgar Square, which naturally focuses on children and young people. Next Sunday, July 7, is the day again. The theme of this year's ChessFest is the chess fairy tale "Alice Through the Looking Glass".

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Press release

ChessFest is back on July 7:

Meet the UK’s golden generation of prodigies and England’s youngest-ever full international

  • ChessFest is UK’s biggest chess event with 15,000 people expected
  • Bodhana is England’s youngest full international at any sport
  • 9-year-old is joined England’s next-gen of prodigal talents

More than 15,000 people are expected to descend on London’s Trafalgar Square on Sunday, July 7, for ChessFest 2024, the UK’s biggest chess event.

The festival, now in its fourth year, will draw chess enthusiasts from across the country, including many of the country’s top grandmasters, for a day of fun suitable for every level of player. It is organised by the charity Chess in Schools and Communities (CSC) and will take place from 11am to 6pm.

This year’s star turn will be nine-year-old Harrow schoolgirl Bodhana Sivanandan, England's first world youth champion in 25 years.

CSC can also reveal today the prodigy has been picked for England’s 2024 Chess Olympiad women’s team. When she competes in Budapest this September, we believe she will be the youngest sports star ever to play in a full England team.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Bodhana

Bodhana said:

"ChessFest is such a fun event, I had a great time last year. I'm so pleased to be picked for England, it's a great honour and I'm looking forward to being part of a team."

With the support of our main sponsor, XTX Markets, Westminster Council and the Mayor of London, ChessFest is expected to attract even more than last year’s 15,000 people, as the whole of the iconic square will be taken over for a day of free and fun family-friendly chess activities.

So why not come on down to Trafalgar Square – everyone is invited, no need to book – just turn up on Sunday 7th July for a full day of free chess fun!

England selector and chief executive of CSC Malcolm Pein said:

"It's wonderful to have Bodhana, England's first world youth champion for 25 years, coming to ChessFest. We can announce today that she has been selected to play for England’s Women’s team at the Chess Olympiad in Budapest this September. At nine years of age, she must surely be the youngest to be selected to represent England in any international sporting competition.

”You can challenge Bodhana on Sunday in Trafalgar Square where she'll be playing 20 opponents simultaneously as part of ChessFest, a free chess festival for all the family.

”The chess craze in the UK triggered by Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit has created millions of new players and, a golden generation of emerging talent, that includes Shreyas Royal (15), Ethan Pang (9) and Supratit Banerjee (9). They will also be at ChessFest taking on all-comers on Sunday at speed chess."

So why not come on down to Trafalgar Square – everyone is invited, no need to book – just turn up on Sunday 7th July for a full day of free chess fun!  

You’ll be able to:

  • Play friendly games of chess with anyone, whether you’re just starting out or are already a keen player
  • Learn everything from the basics to checkmate in a free chess lesson with a professional tutor
  • Take on one of England’s top Grandmasters in a simultaneous display
  • Enjoy playing on giant chess sets
  • Blitz your moves out in speed chess games in the “Challenge the Chess Master” tent
  • Watch living chess with actors, replaying famous games of chess on our giant board
  • Test yourself with Puzzle Rush, pitting your wits against fiendish chess puzzles on  

This year’s ChessFest theme is Alice Through the Looking Glass, the wonderful 19th century children’s fantasy tale by Lewis Carroll that features dramatic chess games.

Will the Red Queen triumph over the White King on our living chess board? Will the March Hare overcome Tweedledum & Tweedledee?

You’ll be invited to take part and cheer on your favourite characters as our professional troupe of 32 actors play out the roles of the chess pieces and bring this famous story to life for a 21st century audience.

You can also take part in live linkup challenge matches between ChessFest participants on Trafalgar Square and our sister ChessFest event in Hull.

All the action from the live chess games and challenge matches will be broadcast on a giant screen at the foot of Nelson's column.

So, whether you’re coming along with family & friends, your school or local chess club, everyone will find fun activities to take part in.

For a flavour of what to look forward to at ChessFest, you can watch a video of the inaugural ChessFest here.

Please spread the word about ChessFest to your friends, family, school and workmates – we look forward to seeing you there!

Everything you need to know about ChessFest 2024 is at:

You can also follow us social media at:

About Chess in Schools and Communities (CSC):

Chess in Schools and Communities is a UK-wide charity founded in 2009, whose mission is to improve children’s educational outcomes and social development by introducing them to the game of chess. We run over 1,000 projects in schools, libraries and prisons and a world-class tournament, the London Chess Classic, each December.

About XTX Markets:

ChessFest is supported by XTX Markets, a world-leading algorithmic trading firm delivering quality liquidity across financial markets.

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