Chichester chess proves a great success

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Community chess launched in North Street last week, when the Chichester Business Improvement Initiative (BID) came together with sponsor Patisserie Valerie, and a street magician who came up with the idea.

The free chess games, outside the Butter Market, are available to all, and has proved popular since its launch on Tuesday.

The scheme was piloted for five days previously, and is already a social hub in the city.

City Centre Manager Kim Long was approached by street entertainer and magician, Nick Stein with the idea and together with Patisserie Valerie they have worked to put it into place.

Mr Stein noticed many other countries play board games outdoors, so wanted to bring the idea to Chichester.

He said: “I’ve played chess since I was a child and having seen free chess available in cities throughout the world, I was convinced it would work here.

“I have always loved chess but have few opportunities to play anyone. This is a great way to keep playing and to meet new people.”

Anyone can sit down and play a game of chess, and there is an opportunity to play speed chess, where Mr Stein will challenge chess champions to a one-minute game, where the player gets a minute each overall to complete all their moves.

The chess games will be a permanent feature, and run from Monday to Saturday, at 10am-1pm, weather permitting.

There are talks of moving the games into the Butter Market at Patisserie Valerie if the weather is bad.

The scheme is part of the BID initiative, tasked with delivering a series of improvements to the city centre over the next five years.

Mrs Long could see the benefits of the scheme and said: “This is just the sort of thing BID is here for, to draw more crowds and custom to Chichester city centre businesses.

“I was thrilled when Nick approached me, as it’s such a simple idea, with such a big impact.

“The pilot ran over four days last week and saw 215 games take place.”

Patisserie Valerie voiced an interest in the city centre initiative, so 
Mrs Long offered them the opportunity of sponsoring the chess equipment and providing refreshments to players.

Helene Bailey, store manager of Chichester’s Patisserie Valerie, comments: “I am delighted 
we are able to support such a great scheme.

“As a national company, we are always on the lookout for ways to get involved with the towns in which our cafés are based.

“We know that no two locations or the people in them are the same and as the store manager of the Chichester branch, I have a personal interest in ways in which we can support our city centre.

“I think the Community Chess Programme is a fabulous example of this and a brilliant way of inspiring people to get involved with local events.”

The chess sets will be available for free games outside the Butter Market on North Street on sunny days, overseen by Nick Stein who is happy to take on challengers.

Players are invited to make a donation to support chess clubs in schools, the first recipient being The Academy in Selsey.