London leagues and chess clubs

Historical knowledge and information regarding our great game.
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Adam Raoof
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Re: London leagues and chess clubs

Post by Adam Raoof » Fri Jan 28, 2011 12:06 pm

My favourite League is one in which I became involved only last year, quite by accident.

The http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/ins.chess/br ... /index.htm Bronowski Trophy has been running since 1964, awards a trophy donated by the eminent Professor, and brings together teams based not around club affiliation or geographic location, but profession. (Lawyers, Bankers, Insurance, Commercial and Civil Service)

There are probably other slightly obscure Leagues that I don't know about, but would love to play in, if only there were enough days in the week! Anyone got any suggestions?

James Pratt
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Re: London leagues and chess clubs

Post by James Pratt » Fri Jan 28, 2011 12:16 pm

Dear Adam

I read in the paper of a national Bridge tournament where the prelims are held in people's clubs and results put on the internet. Inter club matches would need opposing teams to excahnge hostages, referees if you will, but would cut down travelling expenses surely. Individuals could still shine, loyalties shown, carbon footprints reduced, novelty lies this way I believe.

(What Basman does for kids can't you do for adults?)

And :P what a League it would make!

James Pratt

Tim Harding
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Re: London leagues and chess clubs

Post by Tim Harding » Fri Jan 28, 2011 9:37 pm

Christopher Kreuzer wrote:Random link on the history of chess in London, which I thought was worth putting here for those who didn't know this history already:

http://www.victorianlondon.org/entertai ... sclubs.htm
Both the Timbs and Dickens guides are quite well known, and they are both incomplete and inaccurate so far as dates are concerned. Not to be relied upon at all.
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Re: London leagues and chess clubs

Post by James Toon » Sat Jan 29, 2011 10:50 pm

Adam

The Bronowski is still going, but the Civil Service League no longer takes part (lack of anyone to organise a team). The Legal League may take part in this event, but it no longer exists as a league as such (it has been dormant for several years).

James

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Christopher Kreuzer
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Re: London leagues and chess clubs

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Sun Jan 30, 2011 3:51 pm

Tim Harding wrote:
Christopher Kreuzer wrote:Random link on the history of chess in London, which I thought was worth putting here for those who didn't know this history already:

http://www.victorianlondon.org/entertai ... sclubs.htm
Both the Timbs and Dickens guides are quite well known, and they are both incomplete and inaccurate so far as dates are concerned. Not to be relied upon at all.
Thanks. It is very useful to know that. Do you know if any chess historian anywhere has done a review of the major, and some of the more obscure, older sources out there? My thoughts are that previously a lot was only available through dedicated research in libraries and archives the like, but now a lot more has been scanned and is available online, so it is easier for the less-aware (or those doing research into family history) to think some old publication is useful when it is not as good as it first appears. London chess in particular, but this applies to all chess really. The ideal reviews would say why a source is unreliable (i.e. sloppy work, not intended to be scholarly, or just out-dated and/or needing correction by later research).

For example, I've seen references to the Sunnucks encyclopedia (and saw a copy at the Hastings Chess Club), but have heard that there are some errors. The other one I've heard a lot about if the Gaige 'personalia' (or is it bibliography?). Turning to more modern sources, I've often been told about the Oxford Companion to Chess as an excellent resource, but when was the last edition published and how good are the more general chess history book published after that?

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John Clarke
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Re: London leagues and chess clubs

Post by John Clarke » Fri May 13, 2011 12:30 pm

Christopher Kreuzer wrote:And can anyone think of examples of leagues that operated within Greater London in the past that no longer exist or merged or changed names?
There's one chess league that I played in for about ten years, off and on - the Barnet League. Its full name was I think the Barnet and District Chess League.

My personal knowledge of it only goes from 1966 to 1977, and despite some careful searching, I haven't been able to turn up any reference to it on the web; not even on Barnet Chess Club's excellent site.

Despite its name, the League comprised roughly equal numbers of Hertfordshire and Middlesex clubs, so it probably falls within your criteria. The full list of members during my time was as follows:

Hertfordshire
Barnet
Old Elizabethans
Potters Bar
Borehamwood
Hilltop (Hatfield)

Middlesex
Enfield
Southgate
Palmers Green (known after 1967 as Alcazar, and later still as Edmonton)
Wood Green
Finchley
(These five were also members of the neighbouring North Circular Chess League.)

Of the above, only Wood Green and Borehamwood still exist as independent clubs. Barnet and Old Elizabethans merged in 2001. Potters Bar folded in 1984, although their name lingers on as part of the Little Heath, Brookmans Park and Potters Bar club that started up in 1999. The present Enfield club is a reincarnated version of the original, which became defunct for some years in the 1990s; it has since incorporated both Southgate and Edmonton. Finchley and Hilltop both ceased to be many years ago.

The League itself operated much as other suburban leagues of the time. Matches were played in 2.5 - 3 hour sessions during the evening, with unfinished games being either agreed by the match captains or sent for adjudication. Eight boards was the norm, although more could be contested by mutual agreement - Enfield and Southgate, for instance, regularly played over twelve. Clubs met each other twice in each season, which could make for a crowded fixture list. Sometimes a single match would be played for double points. Alcazar and Hilltop usually did so, these being the most widely separated clubs geographically.

When the League was founded I'm unable to say. Likewise when it went out of business, or the reasons. Most likely cause of its demise was a simple case of redundancy, as levels of chess activity wound down in general during the 80s and 90s. I should think the Hertfordshire and Middlesex Leagues, plus the North Circular, are probably more than adequate to cater for the number of clubs and players currently active in the area that it used to cover.
Last edited by John Clarke on Sat May 14, 2011 12:30 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: London leagues and chess clubs

Post by Mike Gunn » Fri May 13, 2011 1:54 pm

3 clubs from the London League list (above) also take part in the Surrey League (Battersea, Streatham, Wimbledon). There are many other "Surrey" clubs which are now in the Greater London area (i.e. in London boroughs), e.g. Kingston, Crystal Palace, Surbiton (I think), CCF (aka Coulsdon), South Norwood, Wallington. I'm not sure if it has been mentioned on this thread, but somebody posted about a year ago with a link to an impressive set of maps and lists of league clubs that he had constructed using the ECF yearbook.

I did a small historical piece on the formation of the Surrey League by 6 clubs in 1883 on the 125th anniversary. I will see if I can didg it out.

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Re: London leagues and chess clubs

Post by John Upham » Fri May 13, 2011 4:09 pm

Mike Gunn wrote: I did a small historical piece on the formation of the Surrey League by 6 clubs in 1883 on the 125th anniversary. I will see if I can didg it out.
Isn't this on the SCCA web site Mike?
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Re: London leagues and chess clubs

Post by Mike Gunn » Sat May 14, 2011 1:29 pm

It was on the website*, but the link isn't there any more. I have searched my emails and my hard disk and I still can't find it. It looks as if I will have to scan the printed version in the yearbook.

*Speaking of websites I was looking for something on the BCM website and it no longer seems to be there and I have a vague feeling that you may know something about that?

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Re: London leagues and chess clubs

Post by Scott Freeman » Sat May 14, 2011 3:12 pm

Having sacenned through, I don't think it's been mentioned already but there was also the "South London Rapid Play League" which ran for 1 season hosted at one of Dulwich Plough's former venues in Nunhead in the 1998-99 season. Chris Dunworth set it up and I was arbiter and provided the equipment, etc. I remember that we (Coulsdon & Purley at the time) had a team (that didn't do so well), Dulwich themselves must have had a team, I recall that Imperial College may have won (they had Paul Georghiou and Natasha Regan were in their team). It was good fun and social whilst it lasted but folded after 1 year.

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Re: London leagues and chess clubs

Post by David Sedgwick » Sat May 14, 2011 3:55 pm

Mike Gunn wrote:It was on the website, but the link isn't there any more.
I don't know about the link, but your article is still on the SCCA website.

The electronic version of the 2008 Surrey Yearbook can be found at http://www.scca.co.uk/SCCA/docs/2008_YB.pdf. Your article is on pages 12 to 14.

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Christopher Kreuzer
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Re: London leagues and chess clubs

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Wed May 18, 2011 9:30 am

John Clarke wrote:
Christopher Kreuzer wrote:And can anyone think of examples of leagues that operated within Greater London in the past that no longer exist or merged or changed names?
There's one chess league that I played in for about ten years, off and on - the Barnet League. Its full name was I think the Barnet and District Chess League.
<snip details>

Many thanks for this. I'd never heard of this one before. Makes me wonder how many other similar leagues sprang up at the height of the chess boom.
John Clarke wrote:The League itself operated much as other suburban leagues of the time. Matches were played in 2.5 - 3 hour sessions during the evening, with unfinished games being either agreed by the match captains or sent for adjudication. Eight boards was the norm, although more could be contested by mutual agreement - Enfield and Southgate, for instance, regularly played over twelve. Clubs met each other twice in each season, which could make for a crowded fixture list. Sometimes a single match would be played for double points. Alcazar and Hilltop usually did so, these being the most widely separated clubs geographically.
I've never heard of clubs playing a single match for double points, or varying the number of boards to accommodate the number of players they could find to play. Both sound very reasonable, but presumably need a degree of flexibility on the part of captains and league organisers.

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Re: London leagues and chess clubs

Post by Mick Norris » Wed May 18, 2011 9:34 am

I've seen a few matches played that doubled up as cup and league matches - one had a different result as the league match was drawn but one team won the cup match on board count - not ideal, but needs must when the weather intervenes with the fixture list
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Re: London leagues and chess clubs

Post by IM Jack Rudd » Wed May 18, 2011 3:02 pm

Christopher Kreuzer wrote: I've never heard of clubs playing a single match for double points, or varying the number of boards to accommodate the number of players they could find to play. Both sound very reasonable, but presumably need a degree of flexibility on the part of captains and league organisers.
They've both happened in the Somerset League. (Downside School, for example, had no transport, so used to play all their matches as double-headers at their home venue. They still regularly used to finish bottom of their division anyway.)

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Re: London leagues and chess clubs

Post by Ian Thompson » Wed May 18, 2011 3:14 pm

Mick Norris wrote:I've seen a few matches played that doubled up as cup and league matches - one had a different result as the league match was drawn but one team won the cup match on board count - not ideal, but needs must when the weather intervenes with the fixture list
I've seen doubled up league and cup matches played where a different number of boards counted in each - all 10 boards for the cup match, but only the top 8 boards for the league match; which could create a dilemma for the last player to finish if the match score is, say, 3.5-3.5 on the top 8 boards and 5-4 on the top 10 boards. Does the player go for a draw to win the cup match, or a win to also win the league match, at the risk of ending up losing both if board count is unfavourable to his team?

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