On the last weekend of the Hay Literary Festival (29-30 May) the WCU - along with the UK-wide Chess in Schools and Communities - were invited to run a chess tent open to all-comers. At the end of those two days I was absolutely exhausted but also delighted to have participated in an exhibition that proved massively popular and successful.
From 10.00 each morning until 5.00 each afternoon we had a constant stream of visitors eager to learn the moves of the game, be taught a new opening, watch top players playing one-minute (!) chess or (mostly) just have a chance to play against one of the four of us generously, but inaccurately, billed as "The Grandmasters" !
In principle I think the idea was for groups of people to come in for an hour and then leave us to enjoy lunch or a coffee break before starting again. That would've been nice ! Once all the 'tickets' had sold out the punters of all ages just kept coming, whether 5 years old or 85 ("my Grandad used to be World Champion - I'm sure he'll beat you !") and we just couldn't turn down a challenge.
Hopefully both the WCU and CSC will see many new players either taking up or renewing their interest in the game. Many, many more went away amazed at the level of excitement the game can still generate among young people in this day of electronic games and gadgetry. The Hay Festival staff themselves were also very pleased with the goings-on and there is already talk of asking us back for a full week next time.
Massive thanks are due to:
Helen Hughes of the Stephens & George Charitable Trust for providing and organising The Scribblers Tent for 2 days as well as:
International Master and Chess in Schools Chief Malcolm Pein (on Saturday)
Carl Strugnell (on Sunday)
Robert Chandler Chess in Schools Bristol coordinator (both days)
for their stirling help in fending off the madding hordes !