What is 5asideCHESS?

5asideCHESS was set up as a social enterprise in 2015 by co-founders Ross Smith and Ian McKay as they were concerned about the levels of disconnection and inequality that they saw in society. The project has a huge mission – to tackle loneliness, social isolation and the mental ill health and depression that these issues can cause.
5asideCHESS was invented as a shorter, quicker version of the traditional game of chess. Chess is understood and played all over the world meaning that you can still engage and connect even if we don’t speak the same language.
The mental health benefits of chess are well documented and we recently discovered that chess therapy dates back to a Baghdad hospital in the 9th century. Chess can be beneficial for conditions such as ADHD and dementia but also, being a metaphor for life, chess can help teach and reinforce important life skills.
We have given thousands of 5asideCHESS sets to community spaces, libraries, cafes and bars. We work with prisons, universities, youth groups, community centres and individuals of all ages helping them to make new friends, build confidence and develop new ways of thinking.
To put it very simply, 5asideCHESS is about
Connection and CommUnity and how we can get people to help themselves and others.

Our pioneering 5asideCHESS #HELPyourSELF programme is getting people off their phones and communicating with others in the real world.  Taking a personal journey of connection, self reflection and change. Having meaningful encounters, broadening our understanding of each other, maintaining and improving mental health and wellbeing and in the process, helping others and helping to reconnect our society. The idea couldn’t be simpler and yet couldn’t be more important.