Haggerston state school Queensbridge Primary sees off privately-educated challengers in chess tournament

The Queensbridge Primary School chess team, with coach Lee Bullock (back). Picture: Lucy Hockings

The Queensbridge Primary School chess team, with coach Lee Bullock (back). Picture: Lucy Hockings - Credit: Archant

A record-breaking Haggerston state school checkmated a host of private schools in a major chess tournament.

Queensbridge Primary School in Queensbridge Road came third at the Coulsden Chess Fellowship champions’ league final, making it the most successful state school in the competition’s history.

The competition consisted of 81 teams and was held in south-east London on May 7.

Queensbridge sent three teams to the final of the competition, a first team, a second team and a third team. The second and third team both finished second place in their finals.

Coach Lee Bullock, 40, said the Hackney children were up against private schools that actually teach chess daily as part of the curriculum. By contrast, chess at Queensbridge is taught once a week.

Lee, previously a football coach and chess champion as a kid, promotes playing chess with a strong competitive spirit.

He told the Gazette: “I approach chess with lots of enthusiasm and hope the kids will love the game, wanting to play it all the time.”

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Lucy Hockings, who has two children on the chess team – one of them the chess captain – is thrilled by the camaraderie it creates among the kids.

“It’s been an incredible thing for them,” she said.

“I mean, you can’t ask for better, really, playing football in the afternoon and then coming home and playing chess in the evening.”

The chess team is made up of children ranging from Year 2 up to Year 6.

Lee holds tournaments for each class to determine the best pupils.

These pupils then become part of the lunchtime club and take part in various chess tournaments.

Last year Queensbridge was unable to make the finals because the students didn’t make it through the qualifying rounds.

But this year they won all 10 qualifying games, an achievement no other school in London matched.

“It was an unbelievable achievement so obviously I’m incredibly proud of them,” Lee said.

He hopes that next year the school will perform even better.

“Next year you are going to see the full strength Queensbridge team,” he said.

In all, the Queensbridge first team played seven games in the final, of which it won five and lost two.