Chess for Climate event gets brains buzzing in Berkhamsted

A former British Under 21 chess champion took on 15 players at once in a double-whammy event at Berkhamsted’s Open Door,aimed at tickling the little grey cells while getting young people to think about climate change.
Leslie Tate helps a contestant grappling with a problem at the first Chess for Climate event at Berkhamsted's Open DoorLeslie Tate helps a contestant grappling with a problem at the first Chess for Climate event at Berkhamsted's Open Door
Leslie Tate helps a contestant grappling with a problem at the first Chess for Climate event at Berkhamsted's Open Door

It was organised by Leslie Tate, 74, who started playing at the age of nine and who won the title in Hastings as a teenager.

So was the one-time champ – who identifies as non-binary – on form and how did they rate their opponents?

“There was a wonderful, appreciative, sociable atmosphere in the room,” Leslie says.

Leslie Tate surrounded by chess players. The former British Under 21 champ took on 15 players at once in an event to raise awareness of climate changeLeslie Tate surrounded by chess players. The former British Under 21 champ took on 15 players at once in an event to raise awareness of climate change
Leslie Tate surrounded by chess players. The former British Under 21 champ took on 15 players at once in an event to raise awareness of climate change

"One 10-year-old boy was good – he and one adult beat me.

"I’d like to stress this was played as a learning experience, I talked to some contestants about their best moves and allowed others to reverse their decisions.

“I’d forgotten how demanding this sort of event is and I played some weaker moves in the last half an hour.”

Contestants were given cards containing chess advice as well as every day suggestions for tackling climate change.

The chess had brains buzzingThe chess had brains buzzing
The chess had brains buzzing

Leslie believes chess helps with concentration, memory (how to learn opening moves from books), visualisation of future positions, prediction, plus mental stamina and the aesthetic appreciation of beautiful moves: "It is a prediction game. And we need to use our chess brains to think ahead about climate change, read the science and head off the problem.”

Leslie first became aware of the challenges facing the planet in 2007 after reading the fourth IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report: “I’ve read all the subsequent reports and many other relevant scientific articles.

“It is very, very serious and not enough is being done.”

Suggestions to become pro-active include changing energy providers, switching from banks funding fossil fuels, avoiding flying, using public transport, cutting down on meat and dairy, going vegetarian or vegan, lobbying your MP and council for a Green New Deal and joining a group like Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Global Justice Now and Transition Town Networks.

> If you’re interested in a repeat performance, the next Chess For Climate event at Open Door Berkhamsted will be on Saturday June 17 from 10.30am – 1pm. Register in advance by email.

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