200th Anniversary of club chess in Britain

Wednesday 3rd September 1817 – an extremely historic date in British chess.

That evening a group of local chess enthusiasts met at the Albion Hotel in Piccadilly, Manchester (unfortunately now the site of a Morrison’s superstore and a Travelodge) and a few hours later emerged having formed the very first organised chess club in Britain – the Manchester Chess Club.

Although now, 200 years later, the club itself is no longer in existence and had endured both good and bad times, being disbanded and reformed on several occasions, its place in history cannot be denied as the FIRST.

Therefore, on Sunday 3rd September 2017 – exactly 200 years to the day since that historic meeting – the Manchester Chess Federation is organising a “friendly” match against the Liverpool Chess Club, which itself will be 180 years old in December 2017 and is the oldest EXISTING chess club in England.  (NB: Manchester v Liverpool as a friendly isn’t what you might often read elsewhere!)

The venue for this historic match will be the Albert Square Chop House, formerly known as the Manchester Memorial Hall in Albert Square and right in the heart of Manchester city centre. The building itself, dating back to the 1860s, is one of the finest examples of Venetian Gothic Revival architecture in the country, and is less than half a mile from the former Albion Hotel, the actual birthplace of club chess in Britain, thus making it ideal for such a celebration.

The match will be played over 25 boards of various grades, with an additional 10 board junior challenge, and whilst food and drink will be provided by the hosts for all in attendance, the Liverpool team are playing their part in celebrating the history of the event by travelling to Manchester on the day by train, just as many of their predecessors would have done all those years ago.

Following a pre-match lunch, white’s clocks are due to be pressed at 1pm, and an invite is open to anyone who might wish to visit to help celebrate this historic event.

— Alan Burke, Archivist, Manchester Chess Federation

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