Last week I introduced the Club Profiles initiative where we interview woodpushers from around the world and get them to tell us what makes their chess club so great! In an effort to keep some momentum up, this week I have gone closer to home and spoken to my own club, Horfield & Redland Chess Club. Ok so I’m bias but give me a break!
The interview was conducted with a good friend of mine, Mike Harris and provides a great insight to the Bristol & District Chess League which recently celebrated its centenary year. Here we go…
Tell us a little bit about your club
We are in central Bristol – one of the main roads is called Whiteladies Road and we rent a few rooms in a church just off it. We have 4 teams spread across the Bristol League, the A and B teams both in division 1. Overall we have about 30 members and always open to more!
What kind of person plays for the club?
We don’t have any titled players – although one player regularly plays top board for Guernsey in the chess Olympiad, and we have a few players nearing master strength. However at heart we are kibitzers! We try to encourage learning in chess and welcome players of all ability; I myself have risen from the D team through to A and B team, and so have experienced all 4 Bristol leagues and their unique challenges. Outside of serious matchplay, we enjoy analysing games, playing friendly games and holding our own casual tournaments. I think the kind of players that play for us respect the game and fair play – and are keen to learn from others.
Can you tell us about the history of the club?
There is a fascinating account of how we were formed on our website – but I’ll just say it involved some air-raid wardens! We are 75 this year, and we have had a host of team honours, as well as individual Bristol champions (including this year just gone!). My best moment was last year when we won the cup; it was so tough that I chose not to pick myself for the final – but instead watched proudly on as the team won 4-4 on board count. GM Stuart Conquest – originally from Bristol – gave a simultaneous display at our club in 1992 – hopefully we’ll have more of these in future!
Who are you fiercest rivals and why?!
There is a really close and healthy rivalry in the league – the top matches are always excruciatingly close. We are one of 4 ‘big’ clubs in Bristol – and I suppose you could call them all rivals in a sense. The one that is closest to us in terms of teams is probably Clifton – any of the A to D teams would always have a close match against their Clifton counterparts. But in a match situation you just try to beat who is in front of you.
What is your favourite thing about the club?
I would say we really listen to the club and try to organise things in the fairest way for all – with the chief aim being to get everyone playing the level of chess they want to play. We have an open forum for discussion and everyone does what they can to help.
Is there anything else you would like to add about your club?
We are very happy that more and more people around the world are playing chess – it was already the most played game after football! But interest in learning and following chess seems to be increasing all the time. We want to make sure that ‘local’ chess – that is playing over the board and meeting other people doesn’t get left behind and we want to be a club which reaches out further than clubs traditionally do. To achieve this we are making real efforts to be an inviting club to all players. If anyone supports us in this effort – they can get in touch, share things online, meet us at tournaments or play some friendly games over the board or online (Horfield club or chess.com)
So there we are. Another interesting insight to the running of an amateur chess club and I can speak first hand for Horfield how important it is to provide a suitable level of play for woodpushers of all abilities. A running theme across the two clubs we have featured on the blog so far.
If you have any comments or ideas for the Club Profiles then do please let us know. Also if you want your club to be featured then don’t hesitate to get in touch via Twitter, Facebook or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next time
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