Wimbledon schoolgirl chosen to pit her wits against 15-time chess world champion Garry Kasparov

A Wimbledon school pupil admitted she was left pinching herself in amazement after pitting her wits against the greatest chess player of all time at the House of Lords.

Riversdale Primary School’s Katie Blanc was one of four lucky school children chosen to play 15-time world champion Garry Kasparov as part of the 6th London Chess Classic.

The event was hosted by charity Chess in Schools and Communities and aims to increase children’s educational attainment by teaching chess in state primary schools and inner-city communities.

The 11-year-old was also joined by MPs Jesse Norman, Rachel Reeves, David Mowat and Yasmin Qureshi, as well as Lord Lyndon Harrison, as they all simultaneously tried to beat the Russian grandmaster.

And while none were able to take down Kasparov Blanc insists it was a dream come true to play against one of her idols.

“I’ve been playing chess since the end of year four and I’m in year six now so I’m still a beginner but getting better all the time,” she said.

“It’s a game that can really calm you down if you’re upset or anything like that because it’s a really quiet game.

“I obviously know all about how good Garry is and it was as hard as I thought it was going to be to play him!

“It’s really nice to have the chance to play someone that people say is the best ever. It’s a brilliant chance to see how he plays.

“It’s really important for younger people to play chess because you learn about forward-thinking.

“I’ve had such a great day coming here and playing against Garry and I think it’s something that will definitely make me a much better player.”

And Kasparov believes the youngster showed the benefits of playing chess from an early age and admitted Blanc certainly gave him something to think about.

“This is a great initative and I have been promoting this idea of having chess as part of the education system around the world,” Kasparov said.

“And I am very happy to see the success Chess in Schools and Communities has had so far because it just shows that everyone can see the benefits – parents, headmasters, students and eventually the overall public.

“The benefits of kids playing chess at an early age is quite obvious, it improves their communicative skills, it helps them to appreciate the big picture, to see the outcomes of their actions, they can recognise patterns.

“Overall it helps their concentration, sense of logic and those are very important qualities for their success in school and having chess at the early days is important because it adds an extra tool to help kids get through modern education.”

Related Articles