Portsoken Chess Club shows game is not black and white

The Portsoken Chess Club, which David helped to found.

A pair of residents, a couple of Common Councilmen and a local Tech Entrepreneur have officially launched the Portsoken Chess Club.

The community-driven group, which meets on a weekly basis, is the brainchild of Mansell Street residents Norman McMaster and Mohammed El Baaj who wanted to find a way to reach the area’s youth and teach them the skills chess provides – namely concentration, perseverance and mental agility.

Their venture was given a shot in the arm when they managed to recruit local tech entrepreneur David Barker – one of the

UK’s first internet pioneers in 1994 and played chess for England at 11 years old – to the board. David credits his career progression to learning to play chess as a child.

“I was unemployed at 16 years old in a poor community and could have stayed trapped there.

“However, the CEO of a local company chose me as an apprentice and one of the reasons they attributed to my chess playing abilities. “That’s why I have joined with Norman and Mohammed to help start and grow the club and teach local youth the skills and talents employers recognise.”

Portsoken Common Councilman John Fletcher was the next Lica figure to enter the fray, with Common Councilman Prem Goyal becoming the club’s fifth member, enabling the group to become officially constituted as it starts to grow its membership.

“We’re not just here to become a chess club entering leagues and tournaments”, said Norman.

“We are also here to reach out to the youth and workers across the City of London.

“Activities include large popup chess at local community events and our weekly chess club at the Iveagh Court community centre.”

Any age or level of playing ability are welcome to join, including beginners, and membership is free.

For any further information contact David Barker via [email protected] or alternatively reach secretary Mohammed El Baaj via [email protected].