The Swiss format Classical tournament, played at a 60+0 time control under Chess Scotland rules, is open to all Club Members. The tournament began in November 2022 in our previous venue, Wellcroft Bowling Club, and concluded in our current home, The Bungo, this week.
An exciting finish was guaranteed after defending champion Rhys McCrosson was paired against experienced tournament winner Craig Thompson. With both on 4/4 going into round 5, it was a winner-takes-all scenario on board one.
The game was a back-and-forth affair, with both players having a significant advantage in key positions, but a pawn-grabbing adventure in time trouble cost Craig dearly. Rhys was able to force a resignation on the back of a dangerous passed pawn. The game can be viewed below.
Regardless of how many points you finished on, the Club Committee hope all 45 Members who participated in the tournament enjoyed taking part.
For many of our new Members, this was their first ever experience of competitive over-the-board chess, and playing under Classical time controls. We hope the Beltrami Club Championship has provided an agreeable introduction on both fronts.
The Club Championship will return in season 2023/24, which begins on Tuesday 5 September.
In November and December 2022, Committee Member Rhys McCrosson managed an in-depth survey of Queens Park Chess Club Members.
With the Chess Club having undergone massive growth in the summer of 2022, the purpose was to explore views and preferences from our many new Members, on everything from how we should communicate, and what activities we provide, to long-term chess goals, and what Members want from a Chess Club in general.
The 25-question, anonymised survey, provided in electronic and paper formats, was completed by 31 of our then 40 members – a healthy 78% response rate. In addition to multiple choice options, we encouraged specific comments on many key aspects. The Club Committee are extremely grateful for all contributions.
The survey outcomes have been discussed by the Committee in our early 2023 meetings, and are being used to inform decision-making in a host of areas. In this post, we:
Share the survey outcomes in full
Highlight key findings
Clarify the actions the Committee have taken in response
Confirm what other action points are under active consideration
Invite further views and comments
Six Key Findings
The Club is perceived as successful, with an average score of 4.67 out of 5 on from 31 respondents, and many positive comments about different aspects of the Club. This indicates that radical change is unwise and unwanted.
Most members feel, definitely or to some degree, that the Club: is good value for money (95%); is inclusive (92%); is having a positive effect on their mental health (73%); is helping them improve their chess (67%); and is transparent (60%).
74% feel highly informed about Club activity – and another 23% “to some degree”. However, some responses and comments highlighted dissatisfactions with various areas of Club communications, including message frequency on WhatsApp.
There is a wide spread of chess interests – but a clear preference for rapid (45%) and classical (29%) time controls – and three leading priorities: casual OTB chess (selected by 23 as a top priority for the Club), league matches (21) and the Club Championship (17). Many suggestions on activities are put forward, from Chess 960 and ‘Hand and Brain’ tournaments to guest lectures and Christmas parties.
The Club has a large pool of potential volunteers – 26 of the 31 Members that completed the survey said they would consider volunteering in some capacity.
The comments suggest Members particularly value: the Club’s friendly, welcoming ethos; its community atmosphere; and its mix of casual and competitive chess interests and activities.
Click here to download a PDF summary of the full survey.
The following actions have been taken as a direct result of the survey feedback.
More Focused Digital Communications
WhatsApp is a clear preference for direct communications (74% of Members selected WhatsApp as their preferred choice, followed by 12% for email and others at 3% or lower). The Committee therefore decided that WhatsApp will continue as our main direct communications channel.
Most Members said they want to hear from us once a week (58%); a further 24% selected once a fortnight or once a month. As a result, we reduced frequency of WhatsApp Member communications from several times a week towards once a week.
We also experimented with a weekly Club Newsletter over eight weeks in the initial months of 2023. The Newsletter was produced in PDF format and shared via WhatsApp and email – see the final issue here. It was, however, time-consuming to produce, and we received feedback that it was not being widely read. We now share weekly messages, usually on a Sunday, to our announcement-only Members WhatsApp group with information on upcoming activity. As not all Members use WhatsApp, we support this with occasional emails about key events.
More Relevant Content
Staying with communications, there is a clear preference for hearing about Queens Park Chess Club activities (30 of 31 over-the-board, or OTB, and 24 of 31 online) in our updates, and about other OTB events in Scotland (24 of 31). We now focus on these in WhatsApp Members updates, and on our website and social media. Other topics e.g. general chess resources and top level chess news, are minority interest, and we do not cover these regularly in Club communications.
The QPCC Website (which 20 of 31 respondents regularly engage with) is the most popular secondary communications channel, and some commenters welcomed content and features such as Member interviews. The Committee will continue to provide regular blog updates on our website, shared on our Facebook and Instagram.
71% of respondents said they would value a brief welcome from a Committee Member at each Club night, and we started doing this in January 2023, since we made the move to The Bungo. The announcements are currently made by the President (Caitlin), Secretary (Derek) and Social Media Manager (Rhys) on rotation.
The announcements welcome newcomers, provide brief information on that night’s activity, and highlight any notable recent results and upcoming events. To minimise disruption, announcements are made between 6:45-7pm, close to the start of the night, and last no more than two minutes.
Some comments indicated that people felt puzzled about what to do on their first visit to the Club. Each Committee Member now makes extra effort to approach anyone coming into the Club for the first time, to welcome them, explain how the Club works, find out about their aspirations, and ideally pair them with someone for an initial casual or Leaderboard game.
When interacting with newcomers, we clearly explain that it will always be free to play casual chess at Queens Park. We clarify that we offer a paid Membership for those looking to participate in competitive chess, and Members-only events. We will also signpost those interested to our local partner, the Thursday Chess Group, and to our Chess in the Park summer and autumn Sunday morning meetups.
Dropping Plans for Online Events
With only 2 of 31 Members choosing online chess as one of three top priorities, there is clearly low demand for online tournaments and similar. The Committee decided to leave our chess.com and Lichess Clubs available for Members to use to find and challenge each other, but not to invest any time in their development or setting up online events – contrary to original plans. The Committee agreed it is very easy for individuals to find online opponents – and that the purpose of Chess Clubs likes Queens Park is to provide over-the-board opportunities. Our focus and energy is now fully directed towards OTB chess.
Constitution & Restructuring
With a high pool of willing volunteers, and administrative pressure on the existing Committee given the sharp growth this season, we decided to create a suite of new voluntary roles, develop a Constitution, and elect the Committee at our AGM, beginning with the next one in August 2023.
Our new President, Caitlin, has been appointed for a 16 month term to oversee these significant changes. As of this summer, all Members can put themselves forward for a Committee role, and vote on who is elected to join Caitlin on the new Committee for next season. In addition, we will be establishing a number of non-Committee voluntary roles in season 2023/24. Further information on how to self-nominate and vote will be provided at the end of the current season.
The Constitution will set out the Club ethos – including a provision that it will always be free to play casual chess with us – as well as the role and remit of the Committee, and expectations on Member conduct. It will also include a complaints procedure, as requested in a couple of survey comments.
This section indicates additional actions that the Committee have discussed on the back of survey outcomes, and are considering acting upon in future. Much of the decision-making here will be passed over to the new Committee, elected at the August 2023 AGM.
A Second Club Championship
In response to rapid being the most popular chess format (45%), the Committee may decide to create a Rapid Club Championship over two or three evenings next season (one format could be three 15+0 games per evening). The 2023/24 Committee would need to decide whether they have the capacity to administer such a tournament, to create enough diary space between league, classical Club Championship games and other events, and manage software and digital screens to generate and display pairings between rounds.
A Fourth League Team
In response to league matches being the second top priority overall (21 of 31 Members) after casual over-the-board chess, the Committee is considering operating a fourth regional league team next season – we currently operate three. This would provide more playing opportunities to the 48% who answered no (13%) or yes to some degree (35%) when asked if they were happy with the number of official graded games we offer, and allow for potential membership growth.
The trade-off is a challenge in administration, including managing complexities of separate player pools, player availability, the potential of having two teams play on the same evening, and of teams meeting each other in the same division. With more home games, this also leaves fewer free dates across the season for additional activity. An additional concern is low demand for certain fixtures this season, and that any fall in Members next season would lead to a strong possibility we may not have enough active players for four league teams, plus participation in the National League and Cups.
An Interactive Members Group
60% of survey respondents would like a new digital space created to interact with other Members, and the Committee is open to establishing one. There is however, no consensus on platform. WhatsApp (8 of 19 who want a new space selected this as a preferred option) and Discord (5 of 19) are the two leaders, and Facebook, Reddit and a website forum were among other choices.
WhatsApp is more popular and widely used, but lacks functionality and is intrusive. Discord is much less familiar but allows e.g. creating separate sections for subjects like games analysis, finding an online partner, highlighting upcoming events, and off-topic interests, which Members could find more useful, if willing to take the time to download it.
One of the reasons for a lack of action to date, is the Committee noted a number of conflicting views on WhatsApp – as evidenced in negative comments such as “too many messages”, “too many different groups”, “intermittent and unexpected messages”, “off the cuff”. We are also unsure about how to moderate for poor etiquette on any instant messaging platform, such as a Member using a large group to communicate with one other Member only, to promote non-chess interests, or to use bad language. The feedback will be passed to the new Committee for potential action in 2023/24.
Publishing Accounts & Minutes
At the beginning of each season, starting in 2023/24, the Committee intend to publish an annual statement of accounts for the preceding season, and the minutes of each AGM, on our website. The purpose will be to improve the lowest scoring ‘general views’ metric of transparency on decision-making and expenditure, where 16% said the Club is not adequately transparent, and 23% were unsure or preferred not to answer.
Raising the Membership Fee
The survey shows the Club undoubtedly provides excellent value for money. Given the Committee expect additional costs next season, including rent and more/higher competition entry fees, the 2023/24 Committee are likely to discuss raising the annual membership fee.
This may not be a particularly popular action point, but given the current £40 (£20 concessions) annual rate, any raise is likely to be modest, and would still present strong value for money compared to other Chess Clubs in Glasgow. An increase would also provide more resources for ongoing activities if Membership levels stay the same or rise, and minimise any fall in income in the event of a drop in Members.
We are again thankful to those who took the survey. The outcomes have already added value to the Club, and have provided a great deal of valuable information to the Committee on how Members would like to see it develop in future.
The rest of the Committee wish to express particular gratitude to Rhys for his time and expertise in producing, managing and sharing the survey, and in illustrating the responses.
If any Club Members, including those who missed the original survey, or who joined in 2023, have any comments or concerns about any of the above, you are welcome to email them to a Committee Member.
Additional email comments will be fed into future Committee planning discussions.
Images created with artificial intelligence using DALL-E
Queens Park were delighted to host a special visit from Rob Colston of Bearsden Chess Club this week.
Rob, an experienced 1900+ level classical, rapid and blitz player, whose impressive career highlights are covered here, delivered an interactive workshop focusing on two key areas:
how to form a plan in the middlegame;
how intermediate players can improve long term.
The participatory event took place in The Bungo on Tuesday 21 March, from 7-8pm. Rob shared two games from his career, in which the Queens Park audience was invited to predict plans, moves and ideas throughout. Rob also provided a range of general tips for learning and development, designed to help intermediate players who are stuck on a ratings plateau.
Rob has kindly provided an in-depth PDF document covering his workshop notes, and notations for the two study games. They are available for download in the links below:
Rob’s key book recommendation is Chess Structures, by Chilean GM Mauricio Flores Rios. The book covers the pawn structures that appear in a wide variety of mainstream openings, from the French and the Benoni to the Caro Kann and the Hedgehog, and what plans both White and Black should look to pursue when they appear on the board.
As stated in the advance information, the event is part of a series of collaborations between Bearsden and Queens Park. Bearsden have been a valued mentor Club, supporting Queens Park to establish in 2019 and to grow and develop in the subsequent years. We are indebted to Rob for his time and expertise, and to Bearsden for their continued generosity.
The next workshop will be an ‘How to Form an Opening Repertoire’ class by Queens Park’s openings specialist, Graeme McKinnon. It will take place on Tuesday 11 April, also at 7pm in The Bungo. There is no need to register for this event in advance; those interested are invited to turn up on the night.
In 2022/23, Queens Park Members have the opportunity to compete in our five round Club Championship, supported by our season sponsor Beltrami & Co.
Each round has a ‘designated date’. This is a Tuesday evening club night at which we encourage Members to play their Beltrami Club Championship games in our usual venue.
Games are played over-the-board at the 60+0 time control, under Chess Scotland rules, involving use of a clock and notating moves. One point is awarded for a win, and half a point for a draw. Using the Swiss pairings format, the number of points Members are on will determine who they are drawn against in the next round – i.e. “winners play winners”.
The designated date for the penultimate round is Tuesday 4 April, with a 6:45pm start time in The Bungo.
If you are participating in the Club Championship, and cannot make this date, please contact Tournament Controller Alex Lane, or another Member of the Committee, by WhatsApp or email, and we will work with you and your opponent to reschedule.
There were four defaults in round three. Those who do not turn up for their game, or notify us in advance, risk inconveniencing their opponent and forfeiting the game. Repeat offenders may be removed from the tournament, as those affected have to wait around for an opponent to show up, and also miss out on the opportunity for a graded game. We appreciate all cooperation in making the tournament an enjoyable experience for everyone taking part.
Standings After R3
42 players were paired in the third round, which whittled down the leading pack from seven to four.
Tommy Lally, Rhys McCrosson, Craig Thomson and Connor Thompson, all on the maximum three points, will face each other on boards one and two in the fourth round.
One of Glasgow’s strongest players, Bearsden’s Rob Colston, pictured above, will visit Queens Park on the evening of Tuesday 21 March to share his wisdom and experience in a special interactive workshop.
The focus of the workshop will be twofold: on middlegame planning, and on how intermediate players can achieve steady improvement. With a number of Queens Park players reporting the middlegame as a particular challenge, and being stuck on a rating plateau, we hope the session will provide a valuable source of learning in two key developmental areas.
The session will begin at 7pm and feature a selection of games from Rob’s career. Rob’s FIDE ratings are 1874 classical, 1992 rapid and 1944 blitz. He is also rated 1916 classical with Chess Scotland.
Rob’s career titles include Staffordshire under-18 champion (“in 19… well a long time ago!”), five time champion of London’s Hampstead Chess Club, and three time champion of Bearsden Chess Club (one shared). Representing Hampstead in the prestigious London Chess League, Rob played alongside some incredible talents, including 10 times British Champion GM Jonathan Penrose, three times British Champion GM Jon Speelman, the former world no.4 GM Mickey Adams, and the second Grandmaster in English history, GM Raymond Keene.
Rob has beaten a number of GMs and IMs in tournaments and league games, and we are delighted he has agreed to share his knowledge and experience. Notably, Rob is not taking a fee for his time; Bearsden Chess Club is a kind and generous friend to Queens Park.
Caitlin McCulloch is the new President of Queens Park Chess Club.
Caitlin, pictured above, was elected to the Club’s most senior role by a Committee vote on 7 March.
The role was previously held by Graeme McKinnon, who stood down at the start of March as a result of new demands on his time. Graeme oversaw the rapid growth and transition of the Club, from a small entity with seven paying Members in 2021/22, to one with 46 Members and six teams competing in various leagues and cups.
Caitlin’s appointment, for a 16 month term, will help Queens Park to continue its transformation and consolidate its position as one of the largest and most active Chess Clubs in Scotland. Caitlin, a University librarian, joined the Committee in Autumn 2022, and is Team Captain of Queens Park B in the Dumbarton & District Chess League.
Harvey Dellanzo, Club Treasurer, said: “Graeme’s thoughtful approach to the development of the Club, in what has been an exciting and challenging season with tremendous growth, has been appreciated. I am delighted to announce that Caitlin will fill the vacancy. Caitlin has an extensive range of relevant skills and experience, and embodies the Club’s welcoming ethos. She was a unanimous choice for the Committee.”
Derek Rankine, Club Secretary, said: “I share Harvey’s gratitude to Graeme for his hard work this season, and his enthusiasm for Caitlin’s appointment. The 16 month term will provide additional stability over season 2023/24, and support the Club’s plans to develop a Constitution, bring in a new volunteer structure, and hold a democratic, Member-wide election at the 2023 AGM. We look forward to working with Caitlin in her new role.”
Caitlin embodies the Club’s welcoming ethos.
Caitlin, who has been playing in chess tournaments since the age of 12, is the modern Chess Club’s third President, after Graeme (2022-23) and founder Julien Papillon (2019-22). Archive records indicate Caitlin is almost certainly the first female President in the entire history of Queens Park Chess Club. A previous incarnation, founded in 1873 and active until 1936, had a tradition of male-only Presidents.
Caitlin said: “I want to thank the Committee for entrusting me with this position, and to applaud the work Graeme has done. I’m looking forward to building on the established success of Queens Park Chess Club over the next 16 months. My father was the President of Giffnock Chess Club and it’s exciting to be following in his footsteps.”
Scotland’s top active player, International Master Andrew Greet, who plays board one on the Scotland Olympiad team, welcomed the announcement. He said: “I recently had the pleasure of visiting Queens Park and playing Caitlin in a simultaneous match. I congratulate Caitlin on her appointment as President, and I am excited to see the positive impact she will have on the further development of this vibrant Chess Club.”
I’m looking forward to building on the established success of Queens Park Chess Club.
The Glasgow team, one of six league and cup teams Queens Park is operating this season, has outperformed expectations, and developed a strong chance of winning promotion to Division 2 for the 2023/24 season.
The top of the league table is currently as follows:
Queens Park (15pts – 9 games played)
Lenzie Dementors (12pts – 10 games)
Glasgow Uni (11pts – 8 games)
Hamilton D (8pts – 9 games)
Hamilton C (7pts – 8 games)
Queens Park sit top by three points, with three fixtures remaining. Glasgow University are four points behind, with one game in hand, while Lenzie Dementors have played an extra game, and are three points off the pace.
A busy league schedule in March & April will see Queens Park try to pick up maximum points in an effort to maintain the lead over the higher rated Glasgow University team, which got one win and one draw from its two fixtures vs Queens Park, and the talented Lenzie Dementors junior team.
With Division 2 operating six-board teams, compared to four-board teams in Division 3, Queens Park will be able to operate a larger team in the new season if the campaign to win the league and achieve the promotion spot is successful.
Despite being formed in January 2019, 2022/23 is the first opportunity Queens Park has had to complete a league season, owing to the impacts and disruptions of the Covid pandemic. A league win on the first time of asking will be a notable achievement for the Club.
Team Captain Rhys McCrosson, pictured top, said: “I believe the team is almost guaranteed promotion.”
Here are two games from the team’s latest fixture, a 4-0 win at home to Hamilton C on Thursday 9 March (the ‘home’ game was in fact played in Hamilton, as a result of junior players in the visiting team and licensing restrictions in The Bungo).
In the first game, Connor Thompson won an impressive 13 move (!) miniature, while in the second, Rhys set up a Queen sacrifice to deliver mate. Click on the links for access to the full games.
What is it like to be part of Glasgow’s Queens Park Chess Club?
Each month, Derek Rankine (Club Secretary) interviews Queens Park Members and asks them to share their experiences and perspectives. This month, we hear from the Chess Club’s power couple, Chris Dinwoodie and Jackie Logan.
Chris, 40 (“Jackie is convinced I’m 41”), is a magician and show producer who performs at weddings, corporate events and comedy clubs, and runs the successful Enterteasement monthly variety show. He was born in Rutherglen and now lives in Burnside. Jackie, 34, is a salon owner, nail technician, nail tech teacher and general “giver of fancy fingers”. She lives in Cambuslang.
The couple joined Queens Park at the start of the current 2022/23 season. Chris is rated 1025 with Chess Scotland and 1668 rapid on chess.com. Jackie is working towards a national over the board rating. She reached 1103 on chess.com rapid in 2022, but has since dropped to 928. Both are participating in the Beltrami Club Championship, and playing for Queens Park in the Dunbartonshire Chess League.
Derek: Can you recall your earliest chess memory?
Jackie: My Dad taught me when we were young, but only the basic rules. I never won a single game – therefore I hated it!
Chris: My Dad taught me and my older brother how to play when I was about six.
Chris – you come from a chess-playing family. What was that experience like? Lots of inter-family rivalry, or supporting each other to play and develop?
Chris: My Dad was a pretty strong player, 1910 at his peak. He’d tell us about his chess results but my brother had no interest in playing with me, so my games back then were mainly against the computer, which always won. When I started playing my friends, I could beat them most of the time, but I wanted to beat them every time.
So I joined the same Chess Club as my Dad – Cambuslang. That’s when I learned how little I knew about the game. Fortunately, my Dad taught me a few things when I joined the Club.
Jackie – outside of the Dinwoodies, do any of your family/friends play chess?
Jackie: My Dad still plays a bit. He’s a technophobe though. He only plays against the computer and is convinced if he signs up to chess.com people will steal his identity!
What is it about chess that you most enjoy?
Jackie: Winning haha! I’m very competitive. I love the thought process and the thinking it takes, but also that anyone can make a bad move at any time!
Chris: I like how fair the game is. The pieces move the same way, for novices and grandmasters, from seven year olds to 70 year olds.
Do you prefer to play chess online or in person?
Chris: I’m much better online, but I prefer playing in person. I like the feel and aesthetics of the of the pieces. I’m also a big fan of making ‘interesting’ moves. The moves where you don’t know if there’s anything in them, but it just complicates things. When you make those moves and you see your opponent’s face, it’s always fun. It’s part of the bluff, sitting there, trying to act like you’ve calculated something special. When in reality, you don’t have a clue.
Jackie: Definitely online. Over the board chess makes me nervous, mostly because it’s frowned upon to shout profanities when face to face! I also feel the board just doesn’t look right in real life. I prefer everything in 2D, haha.
How did you meet?
Chris: We met on Facebook. A mutual comedian friend posted something and we got to chatting on his thread then we became Facebook friends. A few years later, Jackie came to the show I run, and a couple of months later we had our first date on Valentine’s day.
Jackie: He forgets to mention he asked me out for coffee about once every few months and I kinda always palmed him off haha! After two years, we had our first date, and I don’t think we’ve been apart since. We recently celebrated our nine year anniversary!
Congratulations! Has chess featured much in your relationship?
Jackie: Not until Covid. I watched The Queen’s Gambit and I figured I’d give it a go. I was hooked from the start. Once I started winning I literally DREAMED about chess and would sometimes watch people walking about and imagine them as chess pieces! Weird, I know.
Chris: I wasn’t playing chess for the first few years of our relationship, and then I caught the bug again. Jackie used to be annoyed when I played Internet chess. But then Covid hit, we were bored one day, and we started playing. After that, Jackie started playing more than me.
Over the board chess makes me nervous, mostly because it’s frowned upon to shout profanities when face to face!
What led you to join Queens Park Chess Club at the start of season 2022/23?
Chris: We’d previously went along to join Cathcart Chess Club, but it was a bit formal and quiet for Jackie, especially as she was still pretty new to chess at the time. Queens Park is pretty close to us and, truth be told, the fact Govanhill Chess Club* finished bottom of the online chess league the previous season, we thought they might appreciate the players. We’d no idea what it had become.
Jackie – you went to one of our introductory sessions on over the board chess. Did you find it helpful?
Jackie: Definitely. I had no idea about writing moves or even how to. Or how the timed games worked. It was definitely a great way to start and see who also was new to the Club!
How are you both getting on in the Club Championship?
Chris: I won my first match using a combination of luck, prayers and time pressure. I was holding on by a thread and my opponent was short on time. I was too embarrassed to offer a draw because I was so far behind, but I was praying my opponent would utter the word, “draw?”. However, the illusive checkmate never came and the flag fell, and I got the guilty win.
My next match was against one of the Club’s strongest players, Craig Thompson. He was starting to get control in the middlegame so I considered sacrificing my Bishop, but on second thought I thought it would be a bad idea to sacrifice a Bishop against such a strong player… so I sacrificed the Rook instead. It was a good laugh, but when I put it through the computer, it basically said I was an idiot. I won my third match against Gemma.
Jackie: Ermm… pass!
I like how fair chess is. The pieces move the same way, for novices and grandmasters, from seven year olds to 70 year olds.
Jackie – like many Chess Clubs, Queens Park is mostly male. Do you think the Club could be doing more to encourage women to join?
Jackie: Maybe hire Magic Mike in for a game? I joke – I think maybe having a woman’s league or beginner lessons, or reaching out to some of the girls’ forums on Facebook, would help. I know for sure there are girls who play! I think they would definitely come along if they knew other women were there.
You both run successful businesses, and chess can be a time-consuming hobby. Is it a challenge to integrate it into your working lives?
Jackie: I find it hard to get along to the club at times, especially as I work late a lot. But playing online I usually always squeeze a game in during my lunch… and normally have to resign when someone turns up early for their appointment!
Chris: To be honest, sometimes it feels like it’s hard to integrate my working life around chess. Being self-employed, it’s a hard discipline, and chess and social media, are an easy escape.
Jackie – as someone who runs a nail salon, do you have any comments on general fingernail standards in the Glasgow chess scene?
Haha. Chris – I recall you said you experimented with incorporating chess into your magic act. Can you tell us more about that?
Chris: Yeah, I integrated two different things. First was a trick with a white pawn and a black pawn. The spectator had to put one in each hand and I’d be able to identify which hand the correct colour pawn was located in, no matter how many times they’d change their hand or their mind. It didn’t fit my persona, so it quickly got abandoned.
For my comedy, I used to tell a true story about when I was at the Chess Club and Members started surrounding my table and saying things like “That’s an interesting position”, “I’ve never seen that before”, “Wow! I wish that was me!”. When I looked up. they were looking at the TV above us. Which was showing a Channel 5 adult film.
Maybe someday, they will say those things about your chess. What one piece of advice would you give to those who are new to the game?
Jackie: Don’t worry about your grading. Don’t even worry about winning. Take your time, use your time wisely, and always think, “what does that move do?”, after your opponent moves, and before you make your move.
Chris: Don’t memorise openings. Learn the principles. Then focus on learning checkmates, because there’s nothing worse than missing a mate in one. Plus knowing what mates look like helps you to put your pieces in the right places. After that, ask better players what they would do, and what their thought process is. That’s how I learned how to go from a hobbyist to a Club player.
Club Members surrounded my table and said things like “That’s an interesting position”… turns out they were watching an adult film on the TV nearby.
Good advice. Do either of you have any chess-related goals?
Chris: I’d love to get to an over-the-board grading of 1500.
Jackie: I would like to get back up to 1000 on chess.com and WIN A GAME IN THE CHAMPIONSHIP!!!
Thanks both! Our interview series will continue next month. Last month’s subject was musician Wull Swales.
Queens Park Chess Club – and the game of chess – is the focus of episode 12 of Hobbysitive, a Spotify podcast series that delves into the culture and appeal of different types of hobbies.
Club Members Ash Angappan (above, centre) and Ryan McGill (right), along with Club Secretary Derek Rankine (left), were interviewed by freelance Hungarian journalist Flora Csizmadia.
The interview, which went out live via the Hospital Broadcasting Service on the evening of 27 February, is available on Spotify. It covers Ash’s, Ryan’s and Derek’s journey towards Queens Park Chess Club, the activities we provide and competitions we take part in, and the welcoming ethos of the Club. It also explores the different styles and formats of chess, discusses whether the game’s gender imbalance may be changing, and highlights the wider social and health benefits that can be accrued by regularly playing chess.
Chess joins other Hobbysitive episode topics include bodybuilding, Scottish Gaelic, pottery, birdwatching and songwriting. Our gratitude to Flora for an enjoyable interview. You can follow Hobbysitive on Instagram.
Every so often, the Chess Club receives a communication, with the following general thrust:
Why do you ABSOLUTE MORONS spell your own name wrong???!!! EVERYONE knows it’s Queen’s Park, not Queens Park!! What are they even teaching in Scottish schools these days?? *
It’s true, we purposefully leave an apostrophe out of our name, even though many deem it “incorrect” and “just plain wrong”.
You may be curious: why do we go by Queens Park Chess Club – rather than Queen’s Park Chess Club?
Buckle in. Here is the full story.
It begins on 3 August 2022, when the Covid pandemic was receding, lockdowns and restrictions were heading into the rear view mirror, and normality was returning to Scottish life.
In its Annual General Meeting in Brodies Bar, by the north corner of Queens Park – and home to our Thursday Group partners at the time – the Chess Club Committee were excitedly planning for a busy new season, one which would see the return of league chess.
A landmark decision was taken at this meeting, as shown in the following extract of the AGM minutes:
Agenda Item 5: Name of Club
There was a discussion over the potential value of changing the name from Govanhill Chess Club to Queens Park Chess Club, to develop a historical connection with a previous Club of that name, active from 1873 to the 1930s, and to help attract new members from a wider set of neighbourhoods including Shawlands, Langside and Mount Florida.
Harvey reported that he voted in 2021 to retain the existing name, but having since learned about the 1873 Club, would now like to change the name to continue a historic local tradition. Julien and Graeme highlighted the reality that most members already come from the wider Queens Park area outside Govanhill. Derek said the change of name would be helpful in avoiding a situation in which small, precarious clubs are set up in the different neighbourhoods around Queens Park. He noted some online discussions about setting up a Shawlands Chess Club, and felt it would be better for a single, active and sustainable Club to serve the area.
Alex Lane asked if there would be any bureaucratic challenges associated with the change of name, and it was noted the Club would need to notify a number of parties, and change its website domain name, official email addresses, and Facebook page name.
There was a discussion about the merits and drawbacks, and Julien called the matter to a vote. With five votes in favour of the change and two abstentions, it was agreed the Club would henceforth be known as Queens Park Chess Club.
Graeme said he strongly felt the change was for the best, as a local person who has lived in, and is passionate about, several of the local neighbourhoods. Harvey said the Club’s debt to Govanhill, and its period as Govanhill Chess Club, should be fully acknowledged. Derek said he was working on a historical webpage that would include a timeline and a prominent reference to its Govanhill roots.
What the minutes don’t record, is why the apostrophe was left out when the new Club name was adopted.
Immediately following the above vote, the question was asked: “before we do the league registrations and everything, are we spelling Queens Park with or without an apostrophe?”
Blank looks followed. “You know, I’m actually not sure.” “Is it owned by the Queen?” “Is it a reference to multiple Queens?”
Then someone said “Look!” and pointed out the bar window to Queens Park. Heads turned to follow the outstretched arm. Almost as one, the Committee said: “No apostrophe!”.
Sure enough, the official Glasgow City Council park signs, look like this:
The answer was settled (history doesn’t record why no-one simply took their phone out and Googled). We registered our apostrophe-less new name with Chess Scotland, the Glasgow Chess League, and other parties. We developed a new logo, changed our banking name, website domain, sorted out our social media channels, email signatures etc. All using Queens Park.
So when we realised the mistake, why didn’t we make the change? Well, by now we had become used to it – among other reasons to stick with it. It made us distinctive. It had become part of the modern Club’s lore. There are two Queens on a chessboard – not one. We feel the park is owned by the good people of Glasgow, not a monarch. And maybe, just maybe, over drinks in a private conversation with a trusted friend, we may reluctantly concede, if we were absolutely sure no-one else was listening, that retrofitting the apostrophe would have involved some hard (OK, mild) work.
So there you go – if you are the latest person to ask the above question – you will have received a link to this page. Still not happy? Take it up with whoever commissioned the Queens Park (sic) signs for Glasgow City Council.
Finally, if you are curious about who the mysterious Queen of Queens Park is, it’s named after Mary Queen of Scots, whose forces were defeated in the nearby Battle of Langside; and not after Queen Victoria, as commonly assumed. It was created from land donated to the City of Glasgow in 1857, designed by the influential architect and botanist Sir Joseph Paxton, and initially known as the South Side Park.
We leave the reader with a closing thought. Mary died in 1587, and could never be said to have ‘owned’ the Park. Perhaps the apostrophe has been wrongly used all along. Perhaps Queens Park Chess Club, and whoever made the Park signs, proudly stand on the grammatically correct side of history. Perhaps, if there are any ‘absolute morons’ in this story with a poor grasp of the rules and traditions of the English language, it isnae us pal – awright?
* in reality, these questions are invariably put to us very politely. Main image created by artificial intelligence using Dall-E.
The above post has generated some unexpected debate! Thank you to those who commented.
We are delighted to give the final word to Bob McCalden, Chair of the UK Apostrophe Protection Society (yes, it’s real!), who kindly took the time to review our situation and comment. Bob provided the following notes and clarifications:
The usage, or not, of an apostrophe in “Queen’s Park” is somewhat inconsistent, even by Glasgow City Council – although the “general view and established usage” for the area favours inclusion of the apostrophe.
Possessive apostrophes can also denote an association, not solely ownership.
As Queens Park Chess Club’s name is derived from the area, it may be strictly correct to use an apostrophe.
Queens Park Chess Club is, however, a brand name, and brand names can justifiably drop apostrophes – see the Waterstones example.
Consistency is key: “If you want to omit the apostrophe, make sure you do so everywhere.”
While we will remain Queens Park Chess Club, we support good apostrophe hygiene, and are happy to promote the Apostrophe Society’s simple rules on usage.