History of Chess Clubs

Historical knowledge and information regarding our great game.
Tim Harding
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Re: History of Chess Clubs

Post by Tim Harding » Sat Sep 12, 2020 12:54 pm

John Foley wrote:
Mon Sep 07, 2020 11:09 am
It would be great if the ECF kept a page of links to chess histories - for club or county. Perhaps we can start here with a list of histories. This may inspire others to write a history of their area. I am aware that Roy Maddock compiled a 117-page history of Harrow Chess Club for its centenary in 2006.
Here are some of the chess club printed histories I was aware of several years ago (the list has not been updated recently). They vary between very slim booklets and quite substantial works. The list also includes some club rules documents which are usually only a few pages, but not booklets or books on individual contests (e.g. correspondence matches) of which there are several.

Williams, Elijah (ed.), Souvenir of the Bristol Chess Club; containing one hundred original games of chess, recently played, either between the best players in that society, or by them with other celebrated players of the day, with copious notes (London 1845).
Burt, John, The Bristol Chess Club — its History, Chief Players and 23 Years’ Record of Principal Events; 151 games by 64 past and present members etc. (Bristol 1883).

Bannock, P. H., History of the Norfolk & Norwich Chess Club: 1836 1936 (Norwich 1936). The British Library copy was, I think, destroyed in WW2 but it's available elsewhere.

Edgar, J. S., Liverpool Chess Club. A short sketch of the club from its first meeting, 12th December 1837, to the present time (Liverpool 1893). This can be found on the Liverpool club website I believe and maybe in Google Books.

Gould, D., Chess in Leicester 1860-1960: Centenary History of the Leicestershire Chess Club (Leicester, 1960).

Leach, C[harles] H., History of the Bradford Chess Club on the occasion of its Centenary 1853-1953 (Bradford 1953).

Luce, Arthur Aston, A History of the Dublin Chess Club (Dublin 1967).

Thorpe, Adrian (ed.), The Bury and West Suffolk Chess Club 1867-1997, incorporating ‘Proceedings of the Bury and West Suffolk Chess Club 1867-83’ (Preston St. Mary 1997). A lovely piece of work.

Walker, J[ames] M[anders], The history of the Oxford University Chess Club, compiled from the Club Minute Books, by J. M. Walker, formerly President of the Club (Oxford 1885).

Walsh, Peter W., The Story of Dundee Chess Club: its personalities and games (Dundee 1984).

Rules of the Manchester Chess Club, established 1817, with Philidor’s laws of chess annexed (Manchester 1817). In Manchester Central Library.
Rules of the Oxford Hermes Chess Club (Oxford 1855). This and the next in the Bodleian Library.
Rules of the Oxford University Chess Club; with a list of the members & officers of the club from its foundation (Oxford 1873).

Fifty years of chess at Battersea.
Edited and compiled by L. C. Birch (Battersea Chess Club, London, 1935). This and a few others I could only find in the KB (Royal Dutch Library) in The Hague.

Chess in Bedfordshire
By F. Dickens and G. L. White (Leeds, 1933)

Eric Nowell (ed.), Chess and Manchester: Published by Manchester and District Chess Association in celebration of One Hundred Years of League Chess 1890-1990 (Manchester 1990). Not a history of one club but covers the region. Includes contributions by Alan Smith.

A history of the Metropolitan Chess Club, 1890-1990 / by J.J. Moore & T.F. Deery (London 1990)

I have to stop now and don't claim this list is anyway complete. There was a master's thesis on chess in Nottingham done a couple of years ago but I don't know if it's been published.
Tim Harding
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Author of 'Steinitz in London,' British Chess Literature to 1914', 'Joseph Henry Blackburne: A Chess Biography', and 'Eminent Victorian Chess Players'
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Gerard Killoran
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Re: History of Chess Clubs

Post by Gerard Killoran » Sat Sep 12, 2020 12:58 pm

Bradford Chess Club have a history page here:

http://www.anno-domini.net/CHESS/BFD_CH ... PART_1.htm

raycollett
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Re: History of Chess Clubs

Post by raycollett » Sat Sep 12, 2020 10:21 pm

Worcester City Chess Club's history is viewable at: http://www.raycollett.net/city/hist/history1.htm

Julie Denning
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Re: History of Chess Clubs

Post by Julie Denning » Sun Sep 13, 2020 8:09 am

A history of Horsham Chess Club can be seen at http://www.horshamchessclub.org.uk/site ... ersion=1.1. Its author, John Cannon has just stood down as Club Chairman after 15 years in the role, preceded by over 4 decades as Club Secretary. It's appearance in 2009 coincided with the club's 130th anniversary.

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Re: History of Chess Clubs

Post by JustinHorton » Sun Sep 13, 2020 10:25 am

I believe a history of Streatham and Brixton chess club is in preparation.
"Do you play chess?"
"Yes, but I prefer a game with a better chance of cheating."

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John Foley
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Re: History of Chess Clubs

Post by John Foley » Thu Sep 24, 2020 5:31 pm


John Foley
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Re: History of Chess Clubs

Post by John Foley » Fri Mar 05, 2021 5:47 pm


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MJMcCready
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Re: History of Chess Clubs

Post by MJMcCready » Fri Mar 05, 2021 6:53 pm

Tim Harding wrote:
Sat Sep 12, 2020 12:54 pm
John Foley wrote:
Mon Sep 07, 2020 11:09 am
It would be great if the ECF kept a page of links to chess histories - for club or county. Perhaps we can start here with a list of histories. This may inspire others to write a history of their area. I am aware that Roy Maddock compiled a 117-page history of Harrow Chess Club for its centenary in 2006.
Here are some of the chess club printed histories I was aware of several years ago (the list has not been updated recently). They vary between very slim booklets and quite substantial works. The list also includes some club rules documents which are usually only a few pages, but not booklets or books on individual contests (e.g. correspondence matches) of which there are several.

Williams, Elijah (ed.), Souvenir of the Bristol Chess Club; containing one hundred original games of chess, recently played, either between the best players in that society, or by them with other celebrated players of the day, with copious notes (London 1845).
Burt, John, The Bristol Chess Club — its History, Chief Players and 23 Years’ Record of Principal Events; 151 games by 64 past and present members etc. (Bristol 1883).

Bannock, P. H., History of the Norfolk & Norwich Chess Club: 1836 1936 (Norwich 1936). The British Library copy was, I think, destroyed in WW2 but it's available elsewhere.

Edgar, J. S., Liverpool Chess Club. A short sketch of the club from its first meeting, 12th December 1837, to the present time (Liverpool 1893). This can be found on the Liverpool club website I believe and maybe in Google Books.

Gould, D., Chess in Leicester 1860-1960: Centenary History of the Leicestershire Chess Club (Leicester, 1960).

Leach, C[harles] H., History of the Bradford Chess Club on the occasion of its Centenary 1853-1953 (Bradford 1953).

Luce, Arthur Aston, A History of the Dublin Chess Club (Dublin 1967).

Thorpe, Adrian (ed.), The Bury and West Suffolk Chess Club 1867-1997, incorporating ‘Proceedings of the Bury and West Suffolk Chess Club 1867-83’ (Preston St. Mary 1997). A lovely piece of work.

Walker, J[ames] M[anders], The history of the Oxford University Chess Club, compiled from the Club Minute Books, by J. M. Walker, formerly President of the Club (Oxford 1885).

Walsh, Peter W., The Story of Dundee Chess Club: its personalities and games (Dundee 1984).

Rules of the Manchester Chess Club, established 1817, with Philidor’s laws of chess annexed (Manchester 1817). In Manchester Central Library.
Rules of the Oxford Hermes Chess Club (Oxford 1855). This and the next in the Bodleian Library.
Rules of the Oxford University Chess Club; with a list of the members & officers of the club from its foundation (Oxford 1873).

Fifty years of chess at Battersea.
Edited and compiled by L. C. Birch (Battersea Chess Club, London, 1935). This and a few others I could only find in the KB (Royal Dutch Library) in The Hague.

Chess in Bedfordshire
By F. Dickens and G. L. White (Leeds, 1933)

Eric Nowell (ed.), Chess and Manchester: Published by Manchester and District Chess Association in celebration of One Hundred Years of League Chess 1890-1990 (Manchester 1990). Not a history of one club but covers the region. Includes contributions by Alan Smith.

A history of the Metropolitan Chess Club, 1890-1990 / by J.J. Moore & T.F. Deery (London 1990)

I have to stop now and don't claim this list is anyway complete. There was a master's thesis on chess in Nottingham done a couple of years ago but I don't know if it's been published.
Does Hertfordshire have a printed history of its own?

Neil Blackburn
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Re: History of Chess Clubs

Post by Neil Blackburn » Fri Mar 05, 2021 7:01 pm

Dan Lambourne wrote:
Mon Sep 07, 2020 1:48 pm
Nigel Towers wrote up a brief history of chess in Redditch from 1881 to 2017, for the Redditch club's web pages which were new at the time https://www.redditchchessclub.org/club-history.html.
Terrible article!!! It hardly mentioned me at all!!🤣. John ('Jack' )Roe was a tireless worker for the club. Wonderful man.👍

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Gerard Killoran
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Re: History of Chess Clubs

Post by Gerard Killoran » Mon Sep 27, 2021 4:25 pm

How chess clubs did AGMs in the good old days.

PART ONE

From The Albion (Liverpool), Monday 13 February 1860 p.7

THE LIVERPOOL CHESS CLUB.

THE annual dinner of this club took place on Wednesday evening, at Anderson's Dining-rooms. The attendance was larger than usual. The evening passed off in a most agreeable manner, all present seeming to vie with one another in the interchange of a friendly and social intercourse. The chair was occupied by Mr. Morecroft, the president of the club, and Mr. Partridge, vice-president, officiated at the opposite end of the table. Both gentlemen were well supported by friends on their right and left. The cloth being withdrawn,

The CHAIRMAN remarked that he was glad to see so large an attendance, and then proposed the usual loyal toasts, of "The Queen, Duchess of Lancaster," "Prince Albert, the Prince of Wales, and the rest of the Royal Family," followed by "The Clergy," amongst whom, he said, "very good chessplayers were often found."

The Revs. Messrs. GREEN and BURNELL returned thanks.

The CHAIRMAN next gave "The Army and Navy," to which Mr. LAWSON, of the Volunteer Corps, responded.

The CHAIRMAN then proposed "Permanence and Continued Prosperity to the Liverpool Chess Club." (Cheers.) To ensure the permanence and continued prosperity of their club, it was necessary, in the first place, to keep up their numbers, and to maintain its character and respectability. He thought the members should not rest satisfied with merely paying their subscriptions, but should endeavour to persuade some of their friends to join the club, which would tend to ensure its permanence and prosperity, and add to the pleasurable feelings connected with their society. He did not think that the past year had been a very eventful period, as far as chess was concerned. At the commencement of it they saw Mr. Morphy finish that wonderful series of successes which had distinguished him as the first chessplayer of the present day. They had seen him vanquish Harwittz and Anderson, in Paris, afterwards Lowenthal, in London, and then perform those surprising feats in blindfold play, and also in playing several games at once. Thus, when he left this country his position was untouched, and he returned to America as the first chessplayer in the world. Books on Morphy's games had been published by one and another, which, no doubt, would be very valuable additions to our chess libraries. Staunton had published a book on the Birmingham Chess Meeting of 1858, and various other matters; but the great event of the year connected with their club was their telegraph match with Manchester last spring, when, much to the astonishment of chess players generally, and to the great delight of themselves, they came off victorious. He would not detain them further in proposing this toast, hut would inform them that the club was prosperous enough to keep a poet, (laughter,) who had sent an effusion, which, in the absence of the poet himself, he (the chairman) would read. It was entitled, "A Laye of Ye Tournament," and purported to be a description of the telegraph match which took place between the Liverpool and Manchester Chess Clubs last spring.

First on the list - Sparke - No. 1,
So fiercely pressed on Cohen,
We saw that if he wasn't gone,
He certainly was "goid."
On Sparke the earliest laurels fell -
A glorious beginning -
Who knows our worthy sec., knows well
His ways are always winning.

Joust No. 2, in furious fight
Birch hotly rushed on Szabo;
Our hopes were high, we knew our knight
At tilting was a dab, O!
Unharmed, unchecked, with such effect
His practised power was wielded,
That warlike Birch was in the lurch,
And - falling nobly - yielded.

Next in the lists our gallant Schull
Encountered cautious Hammill,
Who blended with his courage cool
The tactics of a Schamyl.
Less deadly far the factious strife
Of rival Whig and Tory,
Than that which cost our champion's life.
Yet covered him with glory.

Now seeks the field a puissant knight -
'Tis Smith! methinks a name
In many other fields not quite
Unknown to us and fame.
In every path of life we read
His patronymic daily, as
Even a monarch, in his need,
Has sought it for an alias.

With conscious might and wary eye
Upon Duval he glances.
Eager and ready to descry
The battle's favouring chances.
Long each on each relentless pressed
With unabated powers.
Then "Greek met Greek" - each did their best.
But victory was ours.

Where hostile pennants five had flown,
But one remained unfurled;
And dauntless Kipping stood alone,
Yet in himself a world.
At him our Soul-spurring Amain
Charged with such mad endeavour.
Less potent foe had bit the plain.
And risen from it never.

Still on the weary hours roll,
And still the ruthless Kipping
Lays pitfalls for our noble Soul,
But fails to catch him tripping.
Tho' fiercely pressed, each treasured pawn
So stoutly is defended,
That rosy streaks proclaim the dawn
Before the strife is ended.

Let wild imagination paint
That reckless rage for slaughter,
Till panting, weary, breathless, faint,
Each cries to each for quarter ;
And minus teeth, and horn, and claw.
Half dead, half wild, half eaten.
The bloody battle is "a draw."
And neither foe is beaten.

All bail, then, to our club's success—
Hail to its growing might—
Amid the rising stars of chess
There shines no brighter light.
Cheers for the victors, with a will,
We're proud, indeed, to own 'em;
And for the slain, "de mortnis nil,"
That is, "nil nisi bonum."

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Gerard Killoran
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Re: History of Chess Clubs

Post by Gerard Killoran » Mon Sep 27, 2021 4:25 pm

PART TWO

The VICE-CHAIRMAN proposed "The health of the President," whose urbanity to all members of the club was most conspicuous, and whose gentlemanly conduct had won for him the esteem of all the members. The Vice-Chairman then introduced, in humorous terms, a speech which he alleged to have picked up in the neighbourhood of Rock Ferry, supposed to have been prepared by the President for delivery that evening, after the manner of "Speeches from the Throne." The worthy vice then proceeded to read the document in question, which was a playful parody on the phraseology which Ministers annually put into the mouth of our Gracious Queen.

Mr. WEST proposed the health of the hon. secretary, Mr. Sparke. (Drank with musical honours.)

Mr. SPARKE, in returning thanks, said he was much obliged to them for the kind way in which they had drank his health; but he valued their approbation much more than musical honours. He would address a few remarks to those who had recently joined the club. Though full of ardour and zeal for a little while, it was but too often the case that such persons fell off in course of time, as their interest in it diminished. To counteract this tendency, be advised a constant attendance at the club meetings on the part of all the members, by which means the esprit de corps would be maintained and the prosperity of the club ensured. Although chess was only a matter of recreation, yet, if they would become proficient in it, they must give it as constant attention as their time allowed. He would also remark upon the " skittling," random style of play, in which some of the members indulged. He believed it did them harm; if they wanted to excel, they might depend upon it they must study their game and play steadily. He would mention that they had received a challenge from the Manchester Club, who were desirous of sending over a certain number of their members in the spring of this year, to play a match with this clan, and it was proposed that they should return the visit in the autumn. Of course, they were bound to accept this challenge, and for that reason the members should study to improve their play, though he did not believe that the Manchester Club would " polish " them off. On the occasion of the former challenge, some members of this club were faint-hearted, and the feeling was rather against accepting it; but some members plucked up courage, and said, "We will fight them." They did so, and " licked " them, too. Now they must fight the Manchester players again, and he hoped they would beat them; but it would depend upon the way they played in the club. He would press upon them the importance of making use of the library, and of trying to find out, when they lost a game, the cause of their doing so. They had books in the library which treated of every possible opening that could be tried; in fact, they had as good a chess library as any in the kingdom, not excepting that of the London club, and he hoped they would not neglect to make good use of it. Like all societies of this kind, their club was subject to fluctuations; old faces passed away and new ones came but if they would keep up the stamina of play amongst themselves, it depended upon their own attention to it ; and as they said of the Volunteer Rifle Corps, so they might say of the chess corps, "If you wish to be prepared for the fight be strong." He trusted they would pardon his presumption in making these remarks, as they were made with a good intention.

The CHAIRMAN proposed the health of Mr. Soul, the champion of the club, he having won the tournament last year. He (the chairman) approved very highly of what Mr. Sparke had said of the danger of "skittling,” and yet he would say, "preserve me from the 'slows.' " Mr. Soul had nothing of the slow in him.

Mr. SOUL briefly responded.

Mr. AMAN proposed "The Ladies," - (cheers,) to which Mr. STEENSTRAND responded, when the company retired to their clubroom.

John Townsend
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Re: History of Chess Clubs

Post by John Townsend » Mon Sep 27, 2021 5:24 pm

Thank you, Gerard. I love these jolly accounts of old chess meetings, with their speeches, toasts - and even songs. At one meeting, I recall the toast, "The Ladies. May they all be mated."

Liverpool Chess Club is a fine example, with a very long and distinguished history. The club has also played a prominent part in our national chess affairs, having backed Staunton against Saint Amant.

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Gerard Killoran
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Re: History of Chess Clubs

Post by Gerard Killoran » Tue Oct 12, 2021 12:32 pm

The following curious, and ever so slightly racist item appeared just shortly before - and probably in anticipation of - the founding meeting of the real Liverpool Chess Club in December 1837, at The Lyceum, also in Bold Street. Ironically, The Lyceum is now a Chinese restaurant, so who's laughing now?
Liverpool Albion - Tuesday 10 October 1837 p.2

The LIVERPOOL CHANG-FOO CHESS CLUB.

ESTABLISHED A. D. 1837.

Chess, which has been rapidly rolling for many years down the rugged hill of dire neglect, once more holds up its head. A great Chinese Chess Club has been formed, and happy may he consider himself who can gain admission as a member of this mysterious body. To the uninitiated the following authentic account may appear rather as a romance than a reality. However, if any one can declare the contrary, let him step forth and set forth wherein this narrative swerves one jot from the most rigid truth.

The society consists of five-and-twenty members, who meet at the Chinese-hall, in Bold-street. They have a spacious room, lit up with gas, furnished with twelve small tables and one spacious oval table. It hath also thirty chairs, and, on the floor, sundry round tin trays or dishes, filled with an article much resembling saw-dust. Its fire-place is of ample dimensions, and the room itself is of considerable height, so high that a member thrown up in a blanket need not hurt the ceiling, or dinge the plaster with his head. Such is the place of meeting. Near at hand are smaller rooms and three stables, and any member bringing his own hay is permitted the free use of the latter.

On being elected a member ' about a month elapses before admission can be gained to the private nightly meetings of the club, this time being occupied in learning a grammar of signs, together with a dictionary of queer words to express anything which a sign cannot so readily do. Twistrum-twang is a pipe of strong tobacco; doodle-dandy, lend me a shilling; pewit, pewit, lend me some hay. Then of signs: to whistle is as good as asking any one to play a game with you; lying flat on the floor is declaring you will play until daylight; and standing on one leg in the centre of the large oval table is a challenge to the whole club.

We must suppose a new member all prepared to be ushered into this club. What a sight! but the gas is dimmed to the smallest spark of light. He advances, attended by a grave old member, who makes a gurgling, grunting noise, at the conclusion of which the new member has completed putting on a hat, a kind of cloak, and slippers. Immediately the lights re-appear; every member is seen in the dress of a Mandarin, each dancing round while he makes a chuckling noise; then, suddenly stopping, the assembly is reduced to silence, and each sets about finishing the game upon which he had been engaged. The new member being the twenty fifth, goes, for a while, by the name of Kickee-wackee, which is understood to mean odd-fellow; and, as odd may either stand for droll or uneven, many stale jokes are cracked upon him in their dog-latin. He is also kept in full employment handing snuff-boxes, poking the fire setting chess-men, snuffing candles, brushing, hats, changing slippers, filling and lighting pipes, handing a kettle of hot water, mixing punch, squeezing lemons, moving tables, and an infinity of other little, handy jobs.

The Chinese Club enjoys much celebrity: its history is amusing and instructive. It arose from nothing, a mere joke. It now shines a splendid brilliant in the circle of sciences. The art divides and subdivides and sub-subdivides itself into many branches. To such perfection have some of the players arrived that, without a board, or pawn, or any such thing, you may see some of the more expert holding up a finger to indicate the move, and thus, without the slightest visible mistake, the result is always check-mate or a drawn game for one or other side. One member played six and-twenty games in a dream with a vision very like Pickwick. Another can argue any point according to the game of chess; and Mr. Robert Richard Roguely can, any day, eat a veal cutlet and check-mate a gentleman eating another cutlet five yards off with the circular 'bit of marrow-bone! Two young gentlemen, who are deeply in love with a bar-maid, are going to settle their dispute by a single game at chess, instead of meeting in deadly combat.

An exhibition of these and many other even more surprising feats is short1y to take place full particulars of which will appear in handbills, written and printed after the true chess fashion. G.

Reg Clucas
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Re: History of Chess Clubs

Post by Reg Clucas » Tue Oct 12, 2021 1:28 pm

Gerard Killoran wrote:
Tue Oct 12, 2021 12:32 pm
the room itself is of considerable height, so high that a member thrown up in a blanket need not hurt the ceiling, or dinge the plaster with his head.
That's a good test for checking whether a room is airy enough to minimise the spread of Covid!

raycollett
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Re: History of Chess Clubs

Post by raycollett » Sat Oct 23, 2021 9:24 pm

Longbridge Chess Club, Birmingham history is at: <https://longbridgechess.wordpress.com/in-memory/>

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