Express & Star

Kidderminster Chess club has enjoyed a boost

Kidderminster Chess Club (KCC), which is one of the oldest clubs in Worcestershire, is still going strong after 178 years.


The club was founded in 1845 at the now defunct Swan Hotel in Swan Street, and the interest has continued to grow in both the sport and the club's total number of members.

Last season saw KCC finish top in three of the five leagues, and the constant flow of new members has prompted the club to enter seven teams for next season.

As well as having seven teams, the club runs eight internal competitions but people also come along for friendly games.

The chess season starts in September and runs until May but the club remains open all year round so that internal competitions can be completed.

KCC president John Wrench revealed that chess has experienced a boom since the Covid-19 pandemic, and that new people have come along for every meeting in recent weeks, especially younger players.

"Over the last few weeks, it seems we've got a new person coming along every week," Wrench said.

"A lot of the new members are youngsters. After lockdown, there were more people playing chess online.

"Also, in the aftermath of The Queen's Gambit series which was on Netflix, they found that there was a massive boom in chess.

"Chess book sales increased by something like 600 per cent. One of the biggest online companies is They are based in America, but they have members worldwide.

"They were getting over 100,000 new members per day at one point after The Queen's Gambit series. They announced a year ago that it took their worldwide membership to over 50 million, and now a year on, it's over 80 million.

"It just shows how many people play. It's just a convenient way to play. You can do it on your phone, your laptop, and you can play against someone from anywhere in the world."

Wrench joined the KCC back in 1980. The 66-year-old has won the club championship a record 11 times, and having taken early retirement a few years back, he now spends much of his time passing his knowledge on to the younger generation.

"I've taught chess as a curriculum time subject through a charity called Chess in Schools and Community," he revealed.

"They try to sell it on the idea that chess helps promote logical thinking, develops problem solving skills, and also helps with social skills for juniors.

"It also teaches young people how to win or lose with good grace. There's a lot of maths involved with it too. I was also doing three after school clubs last year, and that'll be going up to four in September."

Kidderminster Chess Club meet from 7pm each Wednesday at Habberley Club, Truro Drive, Kidderminster. Players of all levels are always welcome. For more details contact John Wrench at or 07913 227 402.