It originated in India hundreds of years ago, and it's still going strong in Hawke's Bay.

Chess is increasing in popularity amongst Hawke's Bay school children, says Hawke's Bay Chess president Mike Earle.

"Over the years chess has become increasingly popular in many schools, both primary, intermediate and high schools," he said.

"Chess is considered to be a part of the maths curriculum in other countries around the world. So increasingly chess is a pastime that more and more kids at school are taking an interest in."


In Hawke's Bay there are three school tournaments a year, catering for primary, intermediate and secondary students.

At the recent tournament for Year 7 and up, there were 174 entries, 40 more than last year.

The majority of school chess players are male. Havelock North High School student Holly Evans offered the theory that girls preferred group activities to chess.

"Lots of girls prefer to just hang out with their friends rather than having a calm lunchtime, playing a game of chess," she said.

"I like chess because it is satisfying and it is not a hard game to learn. So everyone can learn it and I just enjoy it."

Earle said chess was very good for students.

"It teaches them to think ahead, to plan ahead," he said.

"It is also a game of logic as well as creativity."


He said Nuhaka was the school to beat in the team tournament for primary schools. It's chess prowess is thanks to the legacy of the late Genesis Potini, played by Cliff Curtis in the big screen adaptation of his life, The Dark Horse.

"The principal there, Nick Chapman, is very, very keen on chess for all his kids and regularly sends down mini-busloads of kids to this tournament, and they often win!"