Club Profile #3: Phones Chess Club, Glasgow, UK

Hello ChessJournal Fans!

Not wanting to slow down, I thought I would finish off the weekend with yet another club profile as they have been proving popular.  This time we head north to our first “international” club profile from the fair city of Glasgow in Scotland.  My thanks to Luke Barker who volunteered Phones chess club after reading about my praise of Glasgow Polytechnic Chess Club in my review of the best British Chess Club websites. I really enjoyed reading about this fascinating little club and its history founded in the glory days of British Telecom.  I won’t spoil anymore, have a read yourself…

Tell us a little bit about your club

We are a friendly club who have for many years been based in the West End of Glasgow. (One of three or four clubs to be so, and we are quite a popular club with around 10 minimum along every week and usually much more).

We play one evening a week, Monday, and matches can take place other days too of course. We are closed for the summer now, but we welcome any curious folk from September onward (pun intended!) 🙂

What kind of person plays for the club?

We have between 20 to 30 members, all amateurs, with a hardcore of 15 or so regulars. We have several teams, A B and C and they play matches in the main league here, Glasgow League has all our results and stats. We also enter a team usually in the Dunbartonshire League which overlaps our area. We have two players graded above 2000 just now, Pavlos and Bob, and several strong players bubbling under that.

allegro1prizes

Glasgow has a vibrant chess scene, and several divisions to its leagues which our teams play in. I’m not sure we have won the League title since the 1980s (need to check that with a more senior member!) but we usually have a team in the first and second and third division, so plenty of options for members to play matches.

How diverse is your club?

Members are all ages from 18 to 70s, one of the great delights of chess is the ability of ages to socialise and play competitively together in our opinion.

We have members currently from Poland, Cyprus, Greece, Malawi, Italy, Lithuania, Spain, Morocco/France and England, as well as many Scottish. Our members live all over Glasgow too.

We thus are a very international club, which is perhaps related to our former home of the Polish Club in Glasgow, where we often had several Poles take part. But sadly we have had to move a bit down the road to our happy new home, the St Andrew Bridge Club, who are very welcoming of us, and this has been great for the health of the club and we hope to stay here for a number of years to come.

We sadly do not have any female players (which is perhaps typical of a lot of chess clubs, but they would be more than welcome!).

Do you have room for juniors?

With grateful thanks to our venue hosts we piloted a scheme this year to have a junior hour before the club night starts for the adults, and this has been a success. (We offer free coaching for local juniors). We will continue this initiative in September in the new season for juniors.

Can you tell us about the history of the club?

The Club gets its unusual name from its founding history and continued support from the former British Telecom, of which it was funded by the recreation committee for workers, and we are still lucky enough to get some funding from them, even now they are BT! This has led to a longstanding club dating back to the 1960s. Back in the 1980s, the Phone experts in the team arranged a distant Spens Cup game (national intercity cup in Scotland) vs Thurso to be played over a phone connection. Their board one finished his game early and then mysteriously all their other boards started to improve their quality of play, or so the legend goes! haha.

Have you had any famous players play for you or visit you?

I am not sure which famous players have visited but I was told a story by one of our members about Boris Spassky in the 80s visiting Glasgow and teaching some members how to play better. Not sure if they were paying attention though!! haha.

What honours / leagues or cups has the club won over its history?

We most recently won the Spens Cup for the first time in many years, and in the 70s and 80s the team won the Glasgow League and I think got quite far in the Richardson tournament but I will need to ask some other members of this to be sure.
phones-win-spens-cup-2017-team.jpg

Who are you fiercest rivals and why?!

I suppose this would be Glasgow Poly or Glasgow Montrose, who are really just friendly neighbour clubs nearby, but they do take on a “derby” feel these matches some times! (But fortunately it is not Rangers/Celtic level!)

Tell us a bit more about your local club scene and who you like to beat the most!

I think we are grateful to take points off any of the other clubs who have titled players and we like to think of ourselves as always competitive and we have organised teams with few defaults on boards of away matches, which we think is important.

What is your favourite thing about the club?

The friendliness and bonhomie, we all get along and run smoothly without being either too organised or too disorganised.

What makes your club special or unique?

The international makeup of our membership! We were heckled as the “League of Nations” (in a nice way!) when our team sheet was submitted to some opponents this year.

Is there anything else you would like to add about your club?

We have had a tough year in some respects as we lost two of our most cherished members to illness unfortunately, Derek and Allan. They are much missed and our club is only thriving today thanks to them and all the work they put in over the years. We have run two allegro tournaments this year in honour of them and we intend to repeat this in 2018 funds permitting, hopefully permanently.

As I said we have begun a junior intiative this year which continues in September so it would be great to see more juniors show up this year and also any people in the Glasgow area, whether new to the game or wanting a change are always welcome to visit us and see how they enjoy it. We only ask membership fees after a few attendances so no obligation and people are welcome. A final thanks to our hosts at the Bridge Club (our venue) who ensure we are well looked after, playing conditions-wise and with all facilities.

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A lovely detailed overview of this unique Glasgow chess club. I love how you can get a really strong feeling for the camaraderie at the club without even visiting.  As with a lot of smaller clubs, the organisation is often down to a small group of individuals who keep the group united. Our condolences on the loss of Derek and Allan but it sounds like the club is in safe hands moving forward.

Im really enjoying this series of club profiles as it highlights the variety and depth of amateur British chess clubs.  We have only had three profiles so far and we have already featured a break away new starter club, world war 2 fire wardens and the “league of nations” sponsored by British Telecom!  What other mysterious club histories are out there?

If you would like your club to be featured on the ChessJournal blog then don’t hesitate to get in touch, especially if your club is based outside the UK.  I’d love to learn more about the your local chess club scene’s, no matter where you are from.

Until next time!

Jon


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