Cathcart Chess Club, our friends (and rivals!) over the board, have just reached their 70th year since their club’s formation. To celebrate their club’s platinum jubilee anniversary, they decided to host a 6-round Open Swiss Allegro tournament with a time format of 15+10.
The Cathcart Allegro marked the first official open chess tournament hosted in Glasgow since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. It was also a good chance to get back into the swing of things prior to the start of the new season.
Players from approximately 23 clubs were in attendance, with friend of the the Club, IM Andrew Greet, also competing. Queens Park Chess Club had the largest contingent of players, with an incredible 9 of our members competing as one other spectated. For many players, it was their first experience of an open tournament, rather than a tournament where players are split by grading strength – a baptism of fire indeed!
Queens Park had an impressive showing, with all of our competing members scoring between 2-4 points over the 6 rounds. Two of our members also won grading prizes for their strong performances.
Despite this tournament only being the third allegro that Ryan McGill had played, he scored an impressive 3/6 which earned him a grading prize in the under-1000 rating bracket.
Rhys McCrosson also won a grading prize in the 1000-1400 rating bracket. He scored a strong 4/6 against fierce competition, including a wild time scramble in a tough endgame as a large crowd gathered to spectate.
When the dust had settled, IM Andrew Greet reigned victorious. IM Greet, from Bearsden Chess Club, scored 5.5/6 which led to an eye-watering performance rating of 2480. Not far behind in second place was another friend of Queens Park Chess Club from Bearsden Chess Club – Rob Colston.
We’d like to thank Cathcart Chess Club and its secretary, Alistair Maxwell, for a well-run tournament that was fun for all involved. You can find the results from the tournament on the Chess Scotland website.
The radio discussion follows a formal UK Government announcement this week on a funding package of just under £1m to develop chess in England, which will be shared by the English Chess Federation, local authorities, and primary schools in disadvantaged areas. Culture Secretary Liz Frazer said the investment is focused on young people, and designed to help give them, “someone to talk to, something to do and somewhere to go.” She also stated chess teaches young people important skills, including critical thinking and patience.
Caitlin invited Harry Marron, who manages junior club Lenzie Chess Academy, to join her for the discussion on providing young people in Scotland with greater exposure to over-the-board chess. The conversation featured the following points:
Caitlin: “We’re quite a new Club, we had to take a break during the pandemic, then we came roaring back in 2022. We have 45, 46 members now, last year we had seven, there’s been an absolute boom in popularity. We have quite a wide range of people, all different backgrounds. The main reason I got back into chess was over lockdown… I had a revenge arc to learn and beat a friend! What’s nice about chess is, you don’t need anything fancy, whether you are new or a Grandmaster, you always have the same board, the same pieces.”
Harry: “Chess is more popular to young people than it has been for a long time. It’s thriving in Scotland – during Covid young people started playing online… Queen’s Gambit was very entertaining and the chess part was done particularly well. Parents watched and they encouraged their children [to play].”
Caitlin: “We have tennis courts, outdoor gyms, basketball courts – outdoor chess tables isn’t anything different. We go to random picnic benches at the moment and bring some chess boards along. What you find is, people come walking past and go, “Oh – chess!”. It’s almost always that they play chess as a child and haven’t played in a while and come back. Being physically visible is really important, and promoting chess to young people is really important.”
Harry: “I had a five year old visit Lenzie, who is now the number 2 ranked under 9 player in the world. Although he knew how the pieces move, I taught him. He has sight, determination and a tremendous work ethic. At the top it’s 1% talent and 99% hard work. But there’s a lot of creativity in chess too.”
Caitlin: “We play in pubs and cafes around the southside, we currently play in the downstairs area of a pub! People think of chess as being in a big silent hall, and you’re not allowed to talk or do anything, but times are changing, it’s in parks, pubs, cafes. There’s more than sitting silently for three hours. I like the chess side – the focus, the patience – and also the social aspect. It helps with social connections, people have said they came to the Chess Club when they had their schooling disrupted and they were a bit isolated, it was really helpful to have a shared common interest.”
Listen to the full broadcast here. The chess discussion took place on the 24 August show with Stephen, and started at 10:50am (1h:50m into the 9am-noon broadcast). It will be available for one month following broadcast on the BBC Sounds app and website.
Meanwhile, following our recent letter to Alison Thewliss MP, Alison has helpfully written to the Prime Minister to ask for clarity on whether there are plans to extend, or proportionally match, the UK Government chess funding package in Scotland. We will share further developments when a response has been received.
Each year, Queens Park holds an Annual General Meeting (AGM) for Club Members to discuss how each season went, and what changes they may wish to look at for the following season, and elect a new Club Committee.
Queens Park Chess Club’s third Annual General Meeting took place on 1 August 2023 in The Bungo, from 7-9pm.
13 Members attended the AGM. They:
Heard reports from the President, Secretary and Treasurer, which summarised achievements in participation and competition during a major season (2022/23) of expansion and change, which has left the Club in strong financial health.
Please visit our dedicated AGM page for further information on the purpose of Club AGMs and minutes from previous meetings.
The new season will begin on Tuesday 5 September, 6:30-9:30pm in The Bungo. Check out the Club Calendar for plans to arrange a blitz tournament and an introductory class on over-the-board, classical chess later in September.
Image generated by artificial intelligence using DALL-E
Tue 5 September – the first Club Meeting of the new season, from 6:30-9:30pm, in The Bungo.
Please email us if you are not already on our mailing list, and would like to receive a notification on Member registrations for next season.
If you miss over-the-board chess, there are two local meet-ups:
The Thursday Chess Group, which currently meets in G41 Bar in Shawlands, from 6pm to late every (you guessed it!) Thursday.
Chess in the Park, which takes place on Sunday mornings, 10am-1pm, at the Queens Park Boating Pond. In bad weather, the group moves inside to the nearby Glad Café.
If you’re looking for competitive chess, check out the Chess Scotland calendar page for national rapid and classical tournaments, many of which will feature representatives from Queens Park.
Looking to find and challenge other Club regulars online? Join Queens Park’s digital clubs on Chess.com and on Lichess.
Finally, Club Member Craig Thomson is hosting a chess event at the Bungo in the Back Lanes Festival from 1-5pm on Saturday 17 June. The event takes place in Craig’s garden in the back lane between Queen Square and Marywood Square in Strathbungo, which is within a two minute walk of The Bungo.
After months of work and preparation, two players are battling it out for the ultimate chess crown. The world watches on in anticipation to see who will emerge from the chaos victorious. Will it end in a measured position or a frantic time scramble? And will the crowd of spectators ever stop wincing after every move they’re not sure about?
You guessed it: it’s Round 5 of the Beltrami Club Championship.
Rhys McCrosson and Craig Thomson, both on perfect scores of 4/4, will face off in the final round of the tournament. If the game ends in a draw, the Sonneborn-Berger score will be used to decide the champion.
However, it’s not all about the top boards – we’ll all be doing our best to close our tournament campaign with a victory.
Round 5 will take place on Tuesday 9th May at the Bungo at 6.45pm.
If you need to rearrange your match, please contact the Committee in person at a Club night or by email. If you do not arrive for your match without giving us notice, your opponent will claim a default win.
You can arrange to play against your opponent on a different date or in a different venue, but it must be an over the board match with the same time control (60 minutes each).
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.