Ten-year-old prodigy who's king of the chessboard

Picked for England, 10-year-old Noah still has time to teach his dad how to play


Noah Shapiro's chess skills extend to beating older players, teaching his father how to play, and now a place in the England squad. And he's still only 10 years old.

The schoolboy already plays for an adult chess club and captains pupils a year older than he is.

Now he has been selected to represent the England Primary School Chess Association (EPSCA) under-11 team as part of the National Chess Squad.

He said he was "literally crying with happiness", when he heard the good news:

"I am a year younger so I was very surprised. I think it is an extraordinary achievement, so I'm extremely happy."

I have to limit myself because I've got the 11-plus coming

Most of the children in the Under-11 team at Akiva School in Finchley, north London, are in Year 6, but Noah is in Year 5. He played against six children during a two-day tournament to win his England squad place. Just 23 of the 45 children who participated were selected.

Noah, who lives with his parents and two younger sisters in East Finchley, has been playing chess since the age of five.

He said: "I remember the first day Dad bought a chess board, I was extremely excited. I like how you move the pieces, and there are tactics. It is a very nice, mind sport."

His enthusiasm for the game grew when he joined his primary school chess club, run by tutor John Fleetwood. Another two of Noah's Akiva teammates also took part in the trial - Year 6 pupils Natan Boyd and Izzy Baron-Cohen, both aged 11.

Outside school, Noah plays for two clubs and reads chess workbooks to improve his tactics.

He said: "I have to limit myself in a way because I've got the 11-plus coming up. So I usually take Saturday to do a lot of homework and, if I have spare time, I practise chess.

"Or, if there's a chess tournament, I go, if my parents let me."

Noah also plays for the Barnet Under-11 team, which won the EPSCA county championship this month.

Noah's mother, Katie Shapiro, said: "Chess takes up a lot of time and Noah also loves football and sport. So fitting in homework is challenging. But Noah is a hard-working boy and somehow manages to fit it all in without too much nagging from my husband or me."

Noah's mother and sisters, Sophia, eight, and Orli, five, do not play chess, but his father Elli has been inspired by his son's success and has started playing in tournaments for beginners.

However, Noah is unimpressed: "I play against my dad but he is not that great. I can teach him some stuff, but he doesn't have that much time. We mess around on the chessboard."

Mr Shapiro said: "It didn't help the ego when he started giving me tips from around the age of eight, but I've got used to it, and still hold out the vague hope I will win a game against him.

"Watching Noah over the past few years has definitely rekindled my interest in chess."

Next month, Noah will play his first match for the national squad against Wales and then a second in Belgium in September.

"I'm looking forward to just travelling around playing chess for my country and representing my country with my hobby," Noah said.

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