British chess master Charles Storey moved to Malta for two reasons: to escape the gloomy weather of England during the pandemic and to share his passion for the checkerboard game.
And while the Northumberland player boasts hundreds of tournament wins under his belt and credit for coaching some national champions, Storey’s path into chess began when he was living on the streets.
His passion for chess was sparked at 14, when he was homeless and on the verge of dropping out of school.
Storey found solace from his hardships by playing against other elderly people in the homeless shelter he lived in. He was soon hooked and was driven to hone his strategy against other players every day.
He eventually was the best player at the shelter and hasn’t looked back.
“Chess changed my life for the better. I had learning difficulties my whole life. I left school without any qualifications. It taught me how to be disciplined and strategic and how to study.”
“I eventually went on to university and graduated in Computer Forensics,” he explained.
The benefits of learning the game are monumental, Storey continued.
It teaches you how to act tactically, develop better concentration, a healthy competitive streak and how to keep your emotions in check – something very useful when facing a competitor on the other side of the board.
After moving to Malta at the beginning of this year, Storey aims to cultivate a chess scene after an explosion of Netflix’s cultural hit The Queen’s Gambit.
“That series has been phenomenal for people who weren’t normally into chess and are now into it,” he mused, admitting that he watched the whole series himself and thought it was fantastic.
Now, young girls inspired by The Queen’s Gambit’s Beth Harmon can learn from professionals through his online academy aptly named “The Queen’s Gambit Academy”.
Coaches Storey and Adrian Mihalcisin, the latter a prestigious Chess Grandmaster, will help students under 16 reach their full potential and stand out in the male-dominated game.
“The chess board is like a battleship. It’s like a language. We teach students all the necessary skills like visualisation – something used by Beth Harmon, to become the best chess players they can be,” Storey explained.
This isn’t the only project up the chess player’s sleeve, with an academy for boys in the works too as well as a primary school chess league.
When he’s not forging young chess players in England, Malta and worldwide through his online academies, Storey joins a dozen other seasoned-players for games of speed chess, at a Thai restaurant every Saturday.
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