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Tuesday, 10 July, 2001, 13:54 GMT 14:54 UK
Winning move for child chess star
Katie Hale
Katie started playing chess at the age of six
A nine-year-old girl has become the first pupil to win a national chess scholarship to a top public school.

Katie Hale, of Chigwell Row, Essex started playing chess competitively at the age of six.

Her talent has won her the Nigel Short Chess Scholarship at the Millfield School in Somerset.

The scholarship is worth half the school's 16,000 fees.

Family tradition

Katie comes from a chess-playing family of four children, all of whom star in tournaments around the country.

Stephanie Hale
Little sister Stephanie is also a chess star
Her younger sister, Stephanie, was just four when she became the youngest person to play in a national chess competition two years ago.

Katie will leave her talented siblings in September to take up the boarding school place 130 miles away from her home.

Her mother, Sue, said she was delighted to have won the place.

"She felt she's performed well in the selection procedure.

"She loves competing and seems absolutely determined to take her talent as far as she can.

Katie's titles
British Woman's Chess Association under-nine champion
British Woman's Chess Association under-10 champion
British Land under-eight girls champion
National Mini-Squad under-eight champion
London under-eight girls champion

"She really needs the coaching that Millfield will provide."

The school, which provides chess as part of the curriculum, has announced the appointment of its first Master in Charge of Chess.

Matthew Turner, 25, is a grandmaster, ranked 17th in the country.

He will be able to improve Katie's game in individual coaching sessions.

Nigel Short, Britain's top chess player, will also visit the school this summer to provide coaching and master classes.

While Katie has everything to look forward to, the family back in Essex will not be given the chance to miss her too much.

Mrs Hale said: "I won't get the opportunity to miss her. We'll be meeting up at all the chess competitions."

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