Meet the chess prodigy teen who could be the game’s Luke Littler

‘The Juggernaut’ – 13-year-old Jude Shears – has a bright future in the game

A Rugby teenager is in the UK’s top five junior chess players. ‘The Juggernaut’ – 13-year-old Jude Shears – has a bright future in the game.

And now, he’s being sponsored by a Coventry business after it was revealed the talented youngster could not afford to play in key tournaments. Travel and accommodation costs were set to hinder Jude’squest to reach the very top of the game.

Mum Leanne, a primary school teacher, said: “Jude misses out on so many opportunities because of our limited finances. Chess is a cheap activity to play, but when you’re required to go to tournaments all over the country and away in Europe, you have to either be well off or have good sponsorship.

“Jude would have a fair chance of becoming a FIDE Master, if costs were not so limiting. Central Chiropractic Clinic is the first organisation to provide financial support, and we’re really grateful to them.”

At the British Championships last summer, Jude came up against some of The British Isles’ strongest adults, scoring an impressive five points out of nine. The Midlands Counties Chess Union selected him as the 2023 Midland chess champion.

Jude has often been selected to play for England, but has had to turn down many such invitations due to lack of funding. That will likely be the case for this summer’s European Youth Chess Championships, which will cost around £2,000.

The donation from Central Chiropractic Clinic will at least allow Jude to play in competitions in the UK that he would otherwise miss out on.

Doctor Maria Kibkalo, who is director of Central Chiropractic Clinic, said: “We first read about Jude in the Coventry Telegraph in the summer and kept an eye on his progress. We then learned he misses out on tournaments, which cost an average of £250 to attend and thought, ‘hang on, this isn’t right’.

“If he were a footballer with only half the talent, he would not have to worry about money and would be able to fulfil his potential. So, we’ve made a contribution that will go a small way to helping with his chess. Jude is a credit to Warwickshire.”

Maria has published a blog on Jude’s story and hopes to get other local businesses on board with backing Jude. Jude, who is a student at Lawrence Sheriff School in Rugby, learned to play chess at the age of four but honed many of his skills during lockdown as the game’s popularity exploded, thanks also to hit Netflix drama The Queen’s Gambit.