Universities minister Jo Johnson may have a first-class degree from Oxford, but he couldn’t beat an Orpington schoolboy at chess.

Orpington MP Mr Johnson visited Petts Wood and Orpington Chess Club at St John’s United Reformed Church in Lynwood Grove last Friday.

Mr Johnson bravely took on a St Olave’s student called Edwin at the board game but after a 45 minute battle he was defeated. 

He also presented Shlok Verma, eight, with an engraved plate in recognition of his performance for England in the recent European Youth Chess Championships.

Shlok achieved the second highest score by an England player in the under-eight section of the championships.

Mr Johnson said: “Chess is a fantastic game that requires skill, strategy and a calm head.

“It was terrific to attend Petts Wood and Orpington Chess Club’s junior practice and to see so many youngsters learning about and enjoying the game.

“I particularly enjoyed my match against my very impressive opponent, Edwin, and was delighted to present Shlok with his award for his recent performances.

“I would encourage anyone with an interest in the game to get involved with this great local club.”

The Petts Wood and Orpington Chess Club has a large junior section with around forty members with ages ranging from as young as five up to seventeen.

During practice, the children are given a short talk about strategy using a demonstration board and then seek to hone their chess skills by playing amongst themselves with input and advice from adult members.