The Early Years – From Church to Pub !!

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Following the Fischer Spassky World Championship of 1972, the wife of current

member Dave Pugh came up with the idea that they could set up a new chess club

for the newly inspired local youth. They started up a club of about 15 mostly young

members at St James Church in Rubery. This was the start of our story ….

The club was soon playing competitive chess in Division 10 of the Birmingham

League. They had many talented flourishing young players with a few more

experienced members.Early members included The Pugh's , D.Beckett ,I.Truscott ,

G.Harness ,N.Rodway , Bill & Andrew Whitton , N.McSheehee and a couple of

brothers named Arkell !!

Allegedly, Our opponents had to walk past coffins on display to get to the match room

where the strength of our players haunted and tortured them on the boards !!

By 1976 the club membership had doubled and had to move to play at the larger

facilities at the King George V Pub. It was during the period at the pub that our current

chaiman Laurence Wheatley and current secretary & team captain Richard Collett

and current member Brian Allsop joined St James Chess Club.

With a few more years experience, the youngsters, along with new members, were now

a very strong first team but in 76/77 had to enter the Birmingham League in Division 4. They cruised their way through to be successive division champions and gained rightful entry into the top division after winning Division 2 in 78/79. Division 1, however, was a much tougher nut to crack , being dominated by Kynoch Chess Club who won it an impressive 5 years on the trot from 80/81 to 84/85. In 85/86 St James finally cracked it and proudly became Birmingham League Champions for the first time. We were later to repeat this great achievement in seasons 88/9 and 93/4.

St James chess club continued to prosper eventually having to move again to play in a larger

room at the Greenlands Social Club. The club's very best years were probably from

the late 70's until the peak in mid to late 80's before things slowly started going the other way. I joined a still very active thriving St James around 1988 and claim that it is only coincidence that the next 20 years or so saw a gradual but continual reduction in membership from in excess of 80 members down to a minimal survival level of 10-15.

This is where the now Greenlands Chess Club has stabilised since. As you can read in part 4 of our story, we are currently making great efforts to grow the club back towards these good old successful days.

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