Hello ChessJournal Fans!
Today I would like to introduce you all to a new initiative that I have been thinking about for a few weeks, Club Profiles. The humble chess club is the home of many of our more fiercest ‘over the board’ battles. Competitive engagements (no matter what your level) where we try out new ideas, old ideas and blunder our way to victory or defeat against long established rivals. If you live in the UK this probably also involves a log fire, pint of ale and a sleeping dog at your feet (perhaps I’m over romanticising this…)
As regular readers will know, the ChessJournal App is all about helping and supporting amateur woodpushers improve and learn from their ‘over the board’ games (as opposed to playing online which we believe is totally different – read this blog for our views on this). Therefore, here at the blog I have decided to start a regular feature showcasing the wealth, size and general diversity of chess clubs around the world.
So without further ado let me introduce Limewood & Scarcroft Chess Club, near Leeds in the UK. I conducted this interview via email with Chris Tatham, Alan Riddle and club captain, Paul May. My thanks for their insightful and refreshing answers both about their club and wider chess in Britain today. Enjoy!
Tell us a little bit about your club
We’re Limewood and Scarcroft Chess Club based at the Fox and Grapes, a pleasant pub on the A64 between Leeds and York. We were formed towards the end of 2014 and are the newest club in Leeds. We have around 20 active players of all strengths with 2 teams playing in the Leeds League (Divisions 2 and 3 next season). League and club nights are on a Wednesday at 7pm.
What kind of person plays for the club?
The vision for the club was to provide a good environment to encourage new players to the game without that initial pressure to win straight away and without the lack of interest shown in weaker players by many clubs. We demonstrate this aim in our ‘B’ Team which has been consistently made up of players with ECF grades under 100 and even as low as 23 but who are among our keenest members. Most had never been a member of a chess club before. Several had to be given a tutorial in chess notation before they could take part in a real match.
On the other hand our ‘A’ Team is now attracting stronger players – our strongest is graded around 160 – and this helped the team to gain promotion to Division 2 for the coming season. One of our strongest players is Bob Maltby. He achieved a success rate of 79% on his games for us this season and has just been declared our Player of the Year.
The result is that the club can now offer a chess-playing experience suitable for a wide range of players, from hardened veteran to novice.
Can you tell us about the history of the club?
We have just completed our 3rd season. We were set up towards the end of 2014 At first we struggled to get a five person team together but since then we have gone from strength to strength with the creation of a second team last season and aiming for a 3rd team next season.
Our ‘A’ Team gained promotion this season into the 2nd division by finishing 2nd. And our ‘B’ team finished bottom of a very strong bottom division. Both teams met the targets we set at the beginning of the season!
Our greatest achievement to date was winning the Leeds Mini League this season which is a 3 man handicap competition. We fielded two teams. Our top team were clear winners and our second team (all graded under 90) came joint 2nd. We also made it through to the semi-final of the Arjay knockout competition, narrowly missing out by drawing the match, but losing on board count.
Who are your fiercest rivals and why?!
In recent years the Leeds league has been growing and currently has three divisions. Two of the biggest and oldest clubs in Leeds are Alwoodley and Rose Forgrove. However in recent years the strongest clubs have been Leeds City Centre and new club Moortown (also formed in 2014).
Great to hear and read about the establishment of a very young new club and how they are already seeing success both on and off the board. I particularly liked their comments about how chess clubs support and encourage weaker players. Its often all too easy for splinter groups to arise in clubs where they are separated along grading boundaries. In my experience all the great clubs (my own included) offer a level of support and inclusivity no matter your ability. You never know when you need someone to step off the sideline and in to the game!
So there we are, our first club profile. I hope you have enjoyed reading it and if you have any suggestions on format then do please leave a comment in the section below. Obviously it is a new feature and I’m sure we will refine it as we move forward. Also If you would like your club to be featured in a club profile then do please get in touch via our Twitter or Facebook pages of email firstname.lastname@example.org. Especially if you are a club based outside the UK! We are always fascinated to hear how other chess clubs run around the world! I already have a few clubs lined up so Im hoping this will become a regular feature to the blog.
Until next time, thanks for reading and all your support.
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