The beginners guide to the Chess Club

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On the all seeing, all encompassing oracle known as the Internet, every possible whim is catered for, where at the click of a mouse you can see everything from a wedding to a beheading! ​Yet still the vast majority of non chess players have no idea what happens in the world of competitive chess or the mystical venue known as the Chess Club. (That's quite a leap from beheading... I know)

​This is a beginners guide to............ the CHESS CLUB.

​So, lets start with my club, Peterlee Chess Club, its perhaps not the best example to use as your typical chess club.... our motto is 'more drinking, less thinking' but, hey its all I know.

We play in the lounge of the Peterlee Labour Club (the front room on the right) on a Tuesday night, I know "ROCK N ROLL" or what? ​On an average night there will be about eight of us there, we're small, but medicated dedicated. We have a few beers, have a laugh, a bit craic and we don't take it too seriously. Most of us have been playing many years, but we are all highly beatable! 

​We play in the Co Durham League proper league matches are played by teams of 5 players a side, the home team has the black pieces on 3 of the 5 boards and so are at a slight disadvantage.                      

​We use a chess clock like this >

Both players start with 90 minutes each and take turns making moves then pressing the lever on the top, this starts your opponents clock, If we're to believe the films and TV the game always ends in checkmate, in reality the vast majority end in resignation because one player has lost too many pawns/pieces and its pointless to continue. At the higher levels even the loss of a pawn can be game over. 

Of course the game can end in a draw via stalemate or by agreement where both players can't see a way to win or they don't want to risk playing on, its also a draw if one side has only a Bishop and King v King or a Knight and King v a King as its impossible to be checkmated with them alone. If none of the scenario's above have happened and your time has ran out on the clock you lose on time.

​                                     The games are recorded by writing the moves down on a scoresheet like this > 

​They're recorded in the event of any disputes or accidents (the board might get knocked over) different leagues and tournaments require you to make a certain number of moves in a limited amount of time, so its important to know what number move you're up to. If you fail to make the required number of moves, you lose on time.

​It also helps when or if you want to save your master-piece you've just played on a database at home, it can then be analysed on your pc to see where it all went wrong.  

​In our country there is very little interest in chess, in our area of the country even less! It gets no TV airtime and no government funding as it is not classed as a sport, which is surprising as its been recognised as a sport by the International Olympic Committee since 2000. Chess is recognised as a sport in 24 out of 28 member states of the European Union. 

Recognition as a sport doesn't necessarily bring any funding, but it would open some doors. Many public funding bodies and foundations only fund officially recognised sports e.g. the national lottery.

A few years ago there was a small movement to make it part of the school curriculum, but that seems to have died down now, that would have been great for chess and would have given kids an early interest in the game.

Either that or it would have pissed them off enough to despise the game, in both cases chess would have been more prominent in the public eye.

There are a lots of local players using the net to play on sites like​ what we need to do is get you off your arses and down to the chess club, but I'm sure lots of potential members are put off by some of the misconceptions associated with chess, let me answer some of them below.

We're all rocket scientists right?


In our club all our members have 'normal' jobs from construction to teaching, not a lab coat in sight! There is this myth that you need to be highly intelligent to play chess.

Sure, possessing a modicum of intelligence helps, but that's true about most things right? If you're as thick as 'pig plop' you're probably going to be poor at most things that require some thought.

ANYONE can learn to play chess, you need to be clever at chess... that's all, some of the best chess players I know can barely string a sentence together man! 

Chess is an old mans game isn't it?

The very top level of the game is dominated by young men, the current world champion at the ripe old age of 27 is Magnus Carlsen from Norway. He's held the title for nearly 5 years, you do the maths. The average age of the current top ten in the world is 28 and if it wasn't for the 'pensioner' Kramnik at 42 it'd be just over 26 years old!

Try thinking very hard...constantly... for four, five, six hours or more as they do at the top levels of the game, Its surprisingly energy sapping, most old dudes can't handle the pressure.

Chess is boring and slow.

Ever tried playing 1 minute bullet chess on the clock? That is ANYTHING but slow!

Chess is like any sport/game, if you can't or don't appreciate the subtleties then it will seem boring and slow.

One of the most popular hobbies in this country is fishing, a sport that appeals to me as much as a kick in the nads!

I know I will never be interested in fishing no matter how you 'dress it up' and many of you will say the same about chess, but if you've managed to read this far you must be slightly interested right?

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