IT'S claimed chess could help reduce social isolation in the Borders.

But, with the increase in popularity and speed of games online, it's feared local clubs are in danger of disappearing.

Selkirk's Martin Keen says the regular meets are ideal for getting people out the house - young and old - and he's encouraging them to swap their computers for a traditional board once a week.

Mr Keen said: "We'd love to see more players coming along and just turning up for a casual game of chess, whether that be at Gala, Selkirk, Kelso, or Berwick - they even have a club at NHS Borders.

"Especially with competing interests online, come out and challenge yourself and come and play face to face with people. There is a place for online, but come out and speak to people, socialise."

A total of 20 players, from local school children to members of the Border League and beyond, took on the region's strongest player, David Kilgour (grading - 2165), in a simultaneous challenge at the Focus Centre in Galashiels on Sunday.

David, who helped set-up the annual primary school competition in 1984, holds the Grandmaster title at Correspondence Chess.

While games can be played via the internet in as little as 120 seconds these days, he recalled a time when he played by post - with each player mailing their next move to each other and one game lasting five years.

Of the 20 boards played, David won 16, lost two and drew two.

Gala's Ally McGilvray was the only local victor, alongside Alex MacDonald, who had made a 200-mile round-trip from Irvine especially for the challenge.

The highest graded challenger, Gala's Martin Wallace and Selkirk's John Moore each enjoyed a share of the spoils.

A minute's silence was held at the start of the event in memory of Gala player Francis Lauder, who passed away last month following a battle with cancer, aged just 38.

Ally, who took his place in Gala's recent Border League games, dedicated his victory to him.

For more information on your nearest club, contact Martin Keen on 01750 22965.