The Berkeley Chess School is pleased to welcome British Grandmaster
Stuart Conquest. Hailing from Hastings, site of the historic battle
in 1066, Conquest is teaching two weeks of chess master classes at
BCS' Berkeley summer chess camp. A FIDE master at the age of 14,
Conquest came to international recognition as the 1981 World Cadet
Champion in the under-16 category and now travels the world competing
in chess Olympiads and tournaments (he won the 2008 British Championship
and the 2009 Capo d'Orso Open in Sardinia), commentating at
international tournaments, and coaching top players whenever he’s at home.
We enjoyed a spot of tea with Stuart and asked him about his life
in chess. He’d just returned from a Bay Bridge series game between
the Oakland A’s and the San Francisco Giants, where he enjoyed
picking up the rules of the American game.
How was the baseball game?
I liked it very much! I got to see my first home run. Baseball’s much more
interesting than cricket, where I get bored after about 15 minutes of
watching it. And I’d never heard of the 7th inning stretch before - I
How did you get started in chess?
My dad taught me the game at the age of five. It was 1972, the year of
the Fischer-Spassky match and he was really into it. He was an amateur club
player at the Hastings Chess Club.
When did you start beating him?
Not until 9 or 10. Then I started lessons with a former county champion in
What gifts has chess given you?
One of the major things is the opportunity to see the world. I’ve played
on almost every continent, including three times in India and twice
in Cuba! I’m home only 3-4 weeks at a stretch.
Where’s the most exotic place you’ve been?
Las Vegas! (Laughter) I was there for three days last week.
What do you do when you’re at home?
I’ve started coaching some of the most promising female players on the
British Olympic team and have some private students.
Why should kids take chess?
Patience, concentration - confidence. Confidence is one of the key things
- to be able to express your opinion, not to be afraid to disagree, and
also to take responsibility for your words and your actions. All this
adult stuff that not even [some] adults can come to terms with.
At the same time, the game makes you humble. Not even Kasparov is perfect
all the time.
Why do you like chess?
A chess game is like a piece of music. It’s [inherently] compelling. You
can enjoy the abstractness of the game, moving around the pieces and
seeing what works.
How is your master class going this week?
Great! I’m pitching it high and they’re keeping up. I’m giving them
some tough positions, but helping guide them to a solution.
What are you teaching?
Middle and end games, mostly. Typical configurations. When to trade, when
not to trade. LOTS of king attacks. The kids are really enjoying the end
games. End games can be a bit heavy, so I try to liven it up a bit, make
You must get this question all the time, but ... is Stuart Conquest your real name?
Yes, it is.
Grandmaster Stuart Conquest will be teaching a master class again next
week from 1-5 pm, Monday thru Friday. Please sign up here if you're
interested in having your child attend (scroll down to "Week 2 Afternoon
MASTER CLASS w/Stuart Conquest").
For more information please call the Berkeley Chess School at 510-843-0150.