Kidderminster Chess Club thriving after 176 years

Lockdowns have brought a boost in interest in the game of chess as people flocked to take part in online tournaments during restrictions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Kidderminster Chess Club members Joe Friar and John French (front) with Dave Close, Terry Pountney, John Whitehead and Maurice Bissell celebrating the 176th anniversary
Kidderminster Chess Club members Joe Friar and John French (front) with Dave Close, Terry Pountney, John Whitehead and Maurice Bissell celebrating the 176th anniversary

While some clubs have foundered over the decades, Kidderminster Chess Club has gone from strength to strength and has been thriving for 176 years.

John Wrench, a former club president, recently discovered that the club is actually among the oldest in Worcestershire.

During research he discovered a notice from The Illustrated London News, dating back to 1845.

This stated that in Kidderminster they were glad to announce the birth of the Chess Club in what was described as "a pleasant little town".

The report stated that this had been done under the auspices of Mr Knight MP, a member of St George's Club, and it was claimed one of the most brilliant players of the day.

Also mentioned in the Howard Staunton Column of 1845 were Lord Ward, Mr R Godson MP and numerous other "local lovers of the good and beautiful game".

The subscription was then said to be twenty shillings annually, inclusive of a cup of Mocha on a weekly meeting night.

John, aged 65, said: "Interest in online chess has increased with 100,000 plus membership requests every day worldwide.

"Chess has really experienced a boom and the pandemic and lockdowns have created an unprecedented interest.

"It is a game that can be played by any age group and our core of 20 members at the moment are aged from 11 to 85-years-old.

"Chess is something that has proved beneficial in schools as it involves logic and a lot of maths and it can also help ward off cognitive decline in the elderly by keeping their minds active.

"The club has seven league teams and plays in the Worcestershire League as well as the Wolverhampton & District League.

Kidderminster Chess Club now meets on Wednesdays from 7pm at the Habberley Social Club in Truro Drive.

All levels of play and all ages are accepted and anyone interested in joining is asked to call John Wrench on 07913227402.

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