Club Profile #11: Brewood Chess Circle


Hello ChessJournal fans!

A relatively quiet month on the blog due to holidays, work and the Bristol & District Chess League kicking off.  Todays instalment is a late comer to the club profiles feature that we have been running over the summer, Brewood Chess Circle.  My thanks to their chairman David Blower for taking part.

Tell us a little bit about your club

Brewood Chess Circle is a chess club based within the village of Brewood in Staffordshire. The aim of the chess club is simple to let members meet up socially for the enjoyment of the game of chess. The chess club is a small chess club with around 20 members. We hope to gain some new members this coming season and if this website article helps us to do this than all the better. On that note just in case anyone reading this article lives in or around Brewood and is interested in possibly joining the club let me start the article by introducing the relevant details you need to know.  The club meets up on Tuesdays from 7:30pm. Best of all there isn’t actually a finishing time, meaning that we can go home as early or as late into the evening as we want.

New members are welcome, regardless of age and ability and that is something I will probably repeat a lot in the article. The club plays in two different leagues. Soon after the club was formed we joined the Wolverhampton Chess League in 1981, where we have been ever present since. We currently have one team in division two of the league and have never been in the top division, (Division 1) in our entire history of the club. We also enter two cup competitions run by the league. The other league we play in is the Cannock Chess League which we initially joined as a one off in the 1999-2000 season and then as ever presents from the 2003-2004 season onwards. We play in division two of the league, and also enter a cup competition run by the league. The team also compete in the Shropshire Rapid Play League where we are currently in division two of that league, having got relegated from division one of the league last season. The internal club competitions are also something to talk about. The club championship began when the club was first started in 1980, and has been ECF graded since 2012. We also have an ECF graded rapid play club championship which started in 2015 which makes use of digital chess clocks and Fisher incremental time controls.  The club championship trophy is a chess board with the previous winners names engraved on the outside of the board. It is a tradition at the club that the defending club champion plays their next season’s club championship matches on that board.  Playing your matches on the trophy you have won to try and defend it has to be unique!!  


What kind of person plays for the club?

Who can join our club? The simple answer is anyone who likes chess. The amount of teams we run means that we believe we cater for players of most standards of chess. We do not have any titled players at the moment but they would also be more than welcome to join. The ability level of players at our club ranges from children who have just started learning the game to those graded in the 150s. Any new members who want to join the club and immediately want to start playing competitive chess against other local chess clubs in local leagues can have their level of play assessed and be placed into one of our clubs teams that is best suited to their ability level. Clearly we would love it if someone graded in the 200s wanted to join. However whilst the club does run competitive teams the main aim as I said at the start of the article is to meet socially for the enjoyment of chess. That was the aim when the club was formed and it is still true now. Any member who wishes to play socially but not competitively is welcome as well and there is no pressure applied to anyone to play in a team if they do not want to. This leads me onto the best thing about the club. Even if there is not a match you can be sure that there will be about half a dozen members who will turn up to the club each week. Any potential new member turning up will be sure to get a game. Simply turning up and enjoying yourself is what counts. The best thing about the club is the social atmosphere. The club accepts and encourages juniors to turn up to the club and also adults that are new to chess. Recently a couple of members had turned up who started playing as children but had took a break from the game, and had now resumed playing as an adult.

The youngest member of the club is ten years old and has being going for three years. There are six junior members at the club which is a relatively high number for a chess club which is not a specialist junior only chess club.  We are hopeful that one of our juniors will qualify for the England under 11 national team. Obviously the level of competition to get into any England team is high, so whilst it will be difficult everyone at the club is rooting for him.

Whilst the majority of the members are now adults quite a few of us started playing when we were children ourselves. I started playing when I was seven years old so I know what it is like to play chess as a child and that is something I always try and keep in mind when talking to children now at the club.

Experienced players are happy to give advice to help improve the level of play of children. Mini coaching sessions can often take place in the evening focusing on aspects of the game, that take place during the opening, the middle game and the endgame. We often have children reluctant to leave the club at the end of the evening which is a good sign that they have enjoyed themselves. Children also have the opportunity to play in teams. One of the junior members of the club helped win us the Dudley League Division 3 in the 2012-2013 season, the clubs most recent trophy win to date. The Cannock League is not a promotion and relegation league but a team graded restricted league allowing us the opportunity to play new members of the club including juniors in that team.

Meanwhile the oldest member of the club is in his mid-70s (but don’t tell anyone I have told you his age.) We also have one member of the club who has being going to it since 1980. Chess is a game you can play for years and still learn something new and that is one of the best things about the game. Improvement can take place at whatever level you are already at and it is not just juniors who wish to improve. I myself often ask one of the highest graded players at the club “can you go over this game with me.” You can guarantee that someone will always be willing to go over a game that you have just played, either to help you understand a defeat or simply if you want to show off a win!

One thing that should be stated is that there is no minimum ability level required to join the chess club. Players or parents of children should not think that they will be deemed too weak to be a member of a chess club because this is simply not true. Besides which experience shows that the best thing players can do to improve their chess is become a member of a chess club.

Can you tell us about the history of the club?

The story of how the club was formed is that in 1978 two people at the Roman Catholic Church in Brewood during an idol time discovered during a conversation that they both had a mutual interest in chess. Games soon followed initially in their houses and soon the happy band of players was up to eleven. By this time there were too many people to still meet up in people’s houses and so that issues such as the club championship and trophies being engraved could probably be dealt with the suggestion was made that a club should be formed. On 29th April 1980 the club had its first AGM where the club was officially formed and games of lightning chess followed. The word Circle in the name of the club comes from the fact that those who founded the club wanted the name of the club to sound as inclusive as possible. The club does play competitive chess but the idea of it being a place where anyone who enjoys chess can turn up, remains as true now as it was in 1980 when the club was formed. The club has moved around in its 37 year history but has remained within the village of Brewood. We are very proud of that.

I am not personally aware of any famous chess club player having ever played for the club but maybe that will happen in the future. Whilst our honours board may not have as many trophies as some clubs we have won 15 trophies during the 37 year history of the club.

We are hopeful of adding more honours in future years. The Wolverhampton Chess League Division Two 2017-2018 title would be good to enable us to go into division one of the Wolverhampton Chess League for the first time in our history.

Who are your fiercest rivals and why?

The main rivals we have are Bushbury, simply because there are a few members who play for both chess clubs. As it turns out we have been drawn away to them in the first round of one of the cup competitions being run by the Wolverhampton Chess League and therefore it looks likely there will be at least one club member playing against us in our first competitive match of the season.

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

I also have to mention our internet activity. Our website address is: We are also on Facebook, twitter and YouTube. 

The website has details of all the latest news from the club including match reports from our matches, a page with contact details for new members to join the club, and a sense of history with a page explaining the full details of the history of the club. The aim is to eventually have a complete record of every finishing position the club has ever had in any competition. There are also future plans to cater the website for juniors. The website already has some specific advice for parents on the “Joining the club” webpage of the website. Meanwhile in the future the puzzles page will be changed to a “Puzzles page for juniors,” with monthly puzzles designed with children in mind. The website also features some of our favourite games on the games page. Although keeping it up-to-date is not as easy as I would like, it has attracted some new members to the club on the back of us having a good website.

There is one final thing I would like to repeat (rather than add.) Any age. Any ability. The club caters for anyone who likes chess, including experienced league players, adults new or returning to chess and juniors. You are rarely too young and never too old to play chess. There is no minimum ability level required to join a chess club. Enjoyment of the game alone is enough. Experienced players are happy to give advice and help anyone improve at whatever skill level that a player is currently at. So why not give it a try? You will be sure to enjoy yourself.

Thank you David! So there we see a cracking example of a smaller rural club making real strides both digitally and in their local chess scene.  My particular favourite comment is the idea of having to play on the board with your name engraved on it.  A bit like a belt at boxing.  Great idea that is sure to crank the tension when the clock is ticking!

This will be the last of the club profiles moving into Autumn and Winter.  As I’ve previously said Im thinking about consolidating all of the common features of successful clubs into another article as I feel this will be really interesting.

Until next time!


ChessJournal is the companion app for club and tournament players. Store your games in the cloud for free and analyse them on the go on your phone or tablet. Set and track personal improvement goals, linking key games to them across the season. Leave your laptop at home the next time you visit that big tournament!

You can download ChessJournal on iOS and Android here:



ChessJournal 2.1 now available (eventually…)

Hello ChessJournal Fans!

I’m delighted to finally write a new blog post today on our latest update, ChessJournal 2.1.

“Wait a minute Jon, that came out last week?!” I hear you cry.

Well yes. Yes it did.

Android users have been enjoying v2.1 since June 3rd but unfortunately a bug in our iOS release meant we had to go through App Store approval again and that lasted longer than either myself or Matt would have liked.

Despite this short delay, I am delighted to introduce all the new features in v2.1 as follows:

  • ECF Rating: If you are based in the UK then you now have the ability to change your ChessJournal settings to ECF rather than ELO! This was a common request from all of our British based woodpusher fans and I’m glad to finally bring this feature to you.
  • Move Indicator: Another common request was to provide an indicator on the game screen of exactly what move in a game or variation a player is on. This move indicator can also be used now to highlight to a user when a variation is available to view without having to scroll.
  • Improved Game Controls UI: We have also cleaned up the main controls around games to make them easier to alternate between evaluating positions and variations. I think this change is my favourite update in this release.
  • Name a season: Many users also asked us to provide the ability to name a season so they can functionally group different types of games e.g. “Bristol League Games” or “Somerset New Year Tournament”. You asked for it, you got it!
  • Improved PGN Import: We also tweaked some of the usability and technical aspects of importing your games from PGN.
  • Minor bug fixes: As always we did some minor clean up on bugs reported by the ChessJournal community.

So there we are! You asked and we listened!

In total myself and Matt have spent about 30hrs updating to ChessJournal 2.1 in the last few weeks (including our various liaisons with the App Store). I hope you can see the value that our efforts bring to v2.1 of ChessJournal.
If you are pleased with the update and progress that we are making with ChessJournal then please please please leave us a review in the App Store or Google Play Store. Reviews are crucial to helping us reach more of our fellow woodpushers.

In other news, I have a number of other initiatives that I am planning for the blog so stay tuned!

Until next time.



ChessJournal is the companion app for club and tournament players. Store your games in the cloud for free and analyse them on the go on your phone or tablet.  Leave your laptop at home the next time you visit that big tournament!

You can download ChessJournal on iOS and Android here:



The Great #chessjournal Challenge

Hello ChessJournal fans!

So the long summer break is finally over and we enter yet another season of cut and thrust ‘Over the board’ chess.  To coincide with the start of the new chess season we launched another update yesterday for everyone’s favourite self study chess app.

Version 1.4 of ChessJournal now contains two key new features.

Social Sharing

You can now create a unique URL for each of your games and share them with club mates through Twitter, Facebook, Whats app, email or what ever takes your fancy.  The keen eyed amongst you will have noticed me starting to test and tweet this functionality late last week but now it is available for all to enjoy, huzzah!


Myself and Matt are really pleased to finally get this functionality into ChessJournal as it has always been on the roadmap.  We hope you find it useful for those evenings after the dust has settled on the league match from the night before (or on a Monday after that long hard weekend tournament).  Don’t lament that loss or rejoice in the win by yourself.  Its your club mates responsibility to tell you how you could have won that vital extra half point!

Analysis of variations

We have also added a “variations scratchpad” to the app to enable you to explore the key positions that you may have annotated.


The scratchpad basically lets you open a new board position and shuffle some wood until you find the winning combination that you missed over the board (with a little help from the chess engine should you need it).


We find the variations scratchpad fits nicely into the dynamic annotation timeline as it allows you to just double check some of your assumptions around the moves that were made (or missed).  You will find the variations scratchpad under “Options” in the dynamic annotations timeline of your games, titled “Analyse Position”.

Whats next?

That just leaves us with moving ChessJournal onto the Android platform as the last part of our initial roadmap.  We have already begun to look into and test the app on Android and I aim to bring you news as soon as possible about when you will be able to get ChessJournal on the Play store.  What is definitely likely to happen is we will run another sales promotion to celebrate moving onto the new platform.  Probably free for 6 weeks at the time of writing, so please do standby to tell your friends.

The Great #chessjournal Challenge

Finally I wanted to mention an idea we have been floating around ChessJournal HQ for a while regarding measuring the success of keeping a journal.  ChessJournal is built around the premise that we believe amateur chess players can benefit more from analysing their own games and mistakes, than spending hours pouring over 2800 GM games pretending that we fully understand.  Whilst elite game analysis is also important, lets not pretend that the reason for most of our lost rating points is because we couldn’t remember the 16th move of the Berlin defence.

Therefore, I want to encourage all readers and owners of ChessJournal to start tweeting their games to #chessjournal throughout the coming season.  Perhaps even start be tweeting your personal goals for the season.  For example, I am aiming to add 75 rating points to break the 1900 barrier for the first time in my life.  A lofty goal but hey we all have to have ambition!

You can think of it as one giant experiment but I am really intrigued to see how an amateur chess players season wide performances are effected through the regular act of self study and maintenance of a chess journal.  When I have time I will write a full blog on The Great #chessjournal Challenge (maybe we can have prises?!)

Thank you reading and all your messages of support and feedback.  To all ChessJournal fans in the new season, Good Luck!



Download ChessJournal here:



Improvements and summer sale!

Hello ChessJournal fans!

The blog has been quiet during July but the eagle eyed amongst you will have noticed a steady release of updates and new features for your favourite chess diary app! Today marks the release of version 1.3 of ChessJournal and inline with our roadmap (published here) we have thus far:

  • Optimised fully for iPad users
  • Added a PGN export feature at the request of many a wood pusher!
  • Added a Dynamic Annotations Timeline feature to radically overhaul the previous annotation option.

It is the launch of our Dynamic Annotation Timelines (DATs) that has got me and Matt really excited and we feel takes ChessJournal to the next level.  We previously acknowledged that the annotation feature felt basic in version 1.0 (a simple text field).  But as of today you can not only annotate individual moves but also immediately return to critical positions by pressing on the annotation number on the left hand side.  We really hope those of you who have already downloaded ChessJournal update soon and have a play with the DAT.  It packs the ‘Journal’ into ChessJournal.


Unfortunately we were just a day too late for some people thou.  Sadly we received our first 1 star review yesterday with one customer lamenting the annotation feature of ChessJournal.  I really hope they upgrade today and are pleasantly surprised.  My only comment would be thank you very much for the feedback as it really helps validate the direction that me and Matt want to take ChessJournal.

One other piece of news from ChessJournal HQ is a decision around pricing.  I have been regularly (my wife would say religiously…) monitoring our analytics on the App Store and its fair to say that July and August have a noticeable dip during the off-peak chess season.  Therefore to get everybody geared up for the new competitive season we have taken the decision to offer a ‘summer sale’ by giving ChessJournal away for FREE in August!  If you have been admiring ChessJournal from afar then now would be a really good time to give it a try (and also tell your friends).  If you bought ChessJournal already then I’m sure you know how much me and Matt value your support and the early encouragement that you have given us. Thank you!

Speaking of support, in this release we have also added a quick link to leave a review on the app store (on the seasons list screen).  Anybody who works with apps will know how important customer reviews are so if you are enjoying what me and matt are doing with ChessJournal then please leave us some love!

Finally a quick social media update on the ChessJournal community.  We now number 472 likes or followers.  A tidy bunch if ever i saw one!

Thanks for reading and do please continue to spread the news of ChessJournal to your club mates, friends and coaches.  Together we can promote the power of ‘over the board’ chess whilst learning a little about ourselves in the process!

Until next time!


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