A PRIMARY school has ended almost two decades of private school dominance to take the top prize in the Oxfordshire Schools Chess League.

The U11 A team from St Joseph's Catholic Primary School in Headington defeated Magdalen College School (MCS) on Tuesday to win the competition.

The victory is a first for a state school since 2000 after many years of dominance by Oxford High School and MCS.

Headteacher Sue Tomkys said she was delighted.

She said: " I think it is far to say at the moment that we are the top chess school in Oxfordshire, which is very exciting.

"We have got about 100 pupils who play and of those there are 32 in the main squad.

"It is inspirational. I feel inspired by the children's enthusiasm.

"We have got to the stage where they have got their own St Joseph's chess squad T-shirts and that is a little thing that means a lot."

St Joseph's in Headley Way also has an U9 team competing in the league and pupils take part in a range of other tournaments.

In July they will compete in the final of the English Chess Federation competition at Uppingham School in Rutland.

Ms Tomkys said: "Chess at the school has been gradually building up since 2010.

"We have started to get more girls playing which is great.

"It is as cool to play chess at St Joseph's as it is to play football.

"I have been quite keen on it and it has really been driven by the excitement and enthusiasm of the children and the school has enable them to thrive at it."

The school has brought in a chess coach to help youngsters develop their skills and they also practice together, developing team bonds.

Ms Tomkys said that the game has a positive impact on the youngsters who play.

She said: "It is a game of strategy and you need concentration and need to be able to think ahead.

"So it is important to think ahead about different scenarios.

"The kids go on the internet with chesskid.com and train that way, as well as talking to one another.

"The children are really, really excited about the English Chess Federation competition.

"There are only 14 schools national going to that so it shows you how successful we have been."