THE opening gambit for budding British chess champions would seem to be make your first moves in Blackpool.
More than 300 chess enthusiasts flocked to The Imperial Hotel, North Promenade, last weekend to compete in the 37th annual Blackpool Chess Conference, among them a number of youngsters fearless to take on Masters of the board game.
Mahima Raghavendra, from Atherton Chess Club, is just one of them.
Though only nine years old Mahima, who is the Under Nines Girl’s British Champion, took on players 20, 30 even 40 years her senior with steely determination and won her opening game.
She said: “I like the competition. It’s challenging but that’s the game of chess, thinking ahead.”
There’s more to the conference in Blackpool than just chess though, organisers said with the seaside resort’s charms attracting more fans than any other across the country.
Simon Woodcock, congress treasurer for the conference, said: “We get large numbers in Blackpool. This has always been classed as the biggest weekend event because of the numbers coming.
“Some come just because it’s Blackpool and they can enjoy themselves, there’s a lot on offer here.
“Families will come along with the younger ones and you can go out places between games.”
Even those who couldn’t make it to the conference were able to follow games online, with thousands of chess enthusiasts following matches broadcast live around the world.
Mr Woodcock added: “You’re always learning in chess, people will follow the games online or players will watch them back to always improve.”