Last December, the Committee conducted a Survey on its membership to better understand what members wanted from the Club. One of the many insights that were revealed was that a majority of members preferred faster time controls compared to the much longer, standard time controls that can go on for hours. This revelation was further discussed between the Committee and the membership at the recent August AGM, with a majority wishing for a second Club tournament with shorter time controls as compared with the beloved Club Championship. The Committee listened and decided to take action.
Following from the AGM, the Committee announced the Queens Park Autumn Blitz for the final club night of September. Leagues & Competitions Manager, Jordan McNaught, was in charge of organising the event with support from the Committee. Participants appeared to thoroughly enjoy the event, marking the first success of many for Jordan as he settles into his new role. The tournament marked a special occasion, being the first blitz tournament of its kind hosted by the Club. It was only open to members of the Club, with the aim being to provide members with a mild taster of competitive play and what to expect from the rest of the season as the first league matches draw ever-nearer in October, as well as round one of the Club Championship as it fast approaches in November. Everything was to play for – with the Autumn Blitz trophy up for the taking.
The tournament was 7 rounds long and the time control in use was 3 minutes per player with a 2 second increment per move. Games were all unrated as Chess Scotland only grades Allegro and Standard time controls. In the event of tiebreaks at the end, all relevant players would have to play a play-off. A sizable 24 members decided to participate in the tournament, proving that there is indeed a clear interest for faster time time-controls.
The race for first place started to tighten from the beginning with some unexpected triumphs. By the 5th round, it was clear that only a handful of players still had a chance of claiming the glory of winning first place, with Thomas Fowley, Moray Lennox and Jonny Livingston looking like top contenders. By the end of round 7, we had our winner… Jonny Livingston won the tournament! Jonny, a new member of the Club, had only recently gotten back into chess and competitive play, making his win that much more impressive. He was awarded with the Queens Park Autumn Blitz trophy after his stellar performance of winning 6/7 games. Thomas Fowley, Moray Lennox and Alistair Ahmed were close runners up, with all 3 players achieving an impressive score of 5/7 wins.
Queens Park Autumn Blitz results
This tournament marked the first of its kind for the Club, but as its name suggests, it may or may not be the only Queens Park blitz tournament this season…
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.
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.
With our last club night of the season approaching on the 30th of May, we thought we’d let you know some important information for over the summer.
Annual General Meeting (AGM) – Tuesday 1st August, The Bungo, 7pm (TBC)
All Club Members are invited to this meeting. The Committee will present short reports about how the season has gone, we’ll discuss points submitted by Members and we will elect a new Committee for the 23/24 chess season.
First day of the 23/24 season – Tuesday 5th September
Committee and volunteer roles
Over the past season we’ve gained almost 50 members, been profiled in national media and achieved promotion in the Glasgow Chess League. There’s a lot of background work that goes into making sure everything runs smoothly, and we’re looking to expand this support for the upcoming season.
There are lots of ways to get involved with supporting the Club – it could be standing for a Committee role, acting as a team captain for one of our leagues or even helping to set up or put away equipment on club nights. You’ll receive support from the rest of the Committee and wouldn’t be expected to pick anything up from scratch.
We’ll send more information about the official process to Club Members closer to the AGM, but if you’d like to know anything about any of the roles or how you can help the Club, just email us or talk to a member of the committee. You can find information about all of the available roles in our Constitution (see below).
Draft constitution – your views
Over the past few months the Committee has been working on creating a Constitution which effectively sums up what the Club is and how we operate. This should help to manage key processes such as electing committees and dealing with any issues which may crop up over the course of the season.
July 2023 update: Based on member feedback, we have updated the draft constitution:
While the club is on its summer break, you can still attend the Thursday Chess Group at G41 Bar from 6pm until late. There’s also chess in the park at Queens Park boating pond (weather permitting) 10am-1pm on Sundays. If you’d like more information, get in touch to be added to the WhatsApp groups.
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.
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 round 3 is Tuesday 21 February, 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 a number of defaults in round 2. 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.
The round 2 standings and the round 3 pairings follow below.
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.
The latest interviewee is Wull Swales, 35, a Support Worker who helps people to improve their confidence and independence, and work towards their goals. Wull, who is also an accomplished rock musician and performer, grew up in Twynholm in Dumfries & Galloway. He attended Music College in Greenock, and now lives in Auldhouse, Glasgow.
Derek: Did you learn the rules of chess in childhood?
Wull: I have memories of learning how the pieces moved when I was in Primary School. A child-minder and friend of the family taught me. In my adult life, up until last year, I remember playing a handful of games on my phone sitting in the back of a tour bus, doing pass and play.
What triggered your immersion in chess in 2022?
I don’t want to say Beth Harmon… but I think the show piqued my interest, and I liked the idea of learning. Then at the start of summer 2022, I saw a post on a community page from Marianne Burns about local casual chess. I joined the group chat and found out about the chess meetups in Queens Park. But before I even went to one of the Thursday or Sunday gatherings, Rhys McCrosson posted in the chat, does anyone want to meet up in Queens Park and play one on one?
So I packed up my Poundland board, and we spent a few hours playing and talking in the sunshine. We worked on some fundamentals and as I could feel myself being drawn further and further in, Rhys started telling me about the Chess Club, and that I should visit on a Tuesday evening when the new season started at the end of August.
What is it about chess that appeals to you?
There’s a few different things. Firstly I think it’s important to use different parts of your brain. The part of my brain that craves learning and challenging myself loves chess, in the same way the creative side of my brain loves music, songwriting and fantasy novels. I definitely have a bit of a competitive streak in me. I really enjoy just trying my best over the board against someone who’s there to do the same, both of us truly enjoying doing it.
I also play Magic The Gathering competitively. There are big debates online on what is the hardest game ever to play, and chess and Magic are often featured. Both involve a mixture of tactics, assessing board states, strategizing within the game, making choices that make your opponent’s life harder, capitalising on their mistakes, and recovering from losing positions.
I really love the social aspect of chess and Magic too. I’ve had a great time getting to know people and hearing about their passion for the games. I love the spirit of healthy competition. I travelled across UK, Europe and the US playing Magic and making great friends along the way. I’ve already met so many great people through Queens Park Chess Club. I’m looking forward to getting out there and playing more chess tournaments and league games too in Glasgow and Scotland.
How did you get into playing chess online?
A lot of people on the WhatsApp chat were talking about chess.com and Lichess, reporting that they are both good platforms to play on and improve. So that’s where I went. I still do a lot of my playing on both. I really enjoy playing different time constraints as well as doing lessons and puzzles.
I’m trying to pay more attention to game analysis, looking at where my games have gone wrong and how to try not to repeat mistakes. Analysis is also about looking at the good moves you didn’t see and committing certain patterns to memory.
You took Rhys’ recommendation, and joined Queens Park Chess Club in Autumn 2022. Did you feel that was the natural next step in your improving journey?
Chess in the Park was such a lovely, wholesome thing. People in the sunshine having a nice time, curious passers by stepping in off the path, joining for a game before going about their day. I looked forward to it every week.
The Queens Park sessions had given me so much passion for the game, and the Chess Club was the clear progression. I knew the Club was an opportunity to play more and push my skills with fantastic developing and experienced players alike. I knew I would be learning not only about playing the game itself, but about tournament play, rules and etiquette.
Has the Chess Club been helpful to your development so far?
The Chess Club has been incredibly helpful. I remember being at my first Club night, when Rhys and yourself ran a Beginner’s Session. During the intro, you said, “this may be your first time recording moves”, and I was already feeling challenged and out of my comfort zone – in a good way. I was already a little unsettled, as it was only the second time I’ve played inside a building!
I’m a strong believer in the idea of, you can’t always win, but you can always learn. I try my best to ask questions and analyse positions and games with whoever I’m playing. Often, I do this even with games I’m watching. Everyone at Queens Park has been fantastic, sharing their skills, knowledge and learning resources, to aid my development so far. I have improved a lot.
“I’m a strong believer in the idea of, you can’t always win, but you can always learn.”
You have been playing in the Beltrami Club Championship, our five round internal classical tournament. Before it began, you told me you were certain to get five losses, and would look to use these losses as a learning experience. Having played two rounds so far, both against experienced, nationally rated players, your prediction is already way off. Can you tell us a little about both games?
I would be delighted to.
I thought so!
Yeah, five losses, that’s exactly what I thought would happen. My friend Luke, a fantastic chess player who represents Hamilton Chess Club, recommended the book “Chess for Tigers” by Simon Webb. The author writes a lot about the mental preparation for the game – which I think is important. I tried to take this into account. Tigers don’t lose. Tigers asses each situation and carefully consider their actions. Tigers always take their opponents into consideration. Tigers play to their own strengths.
So in Round 1, I had the pleasure of playing Iain Shields. I had played him before a few times, both online and in person. He is a fantastic player, with good opening theory that leads into interesting, unusual middlegame positions. I set myself up and mentally prepared to play to my strengths: no-thrills, solid fundamentals, make positive trades, play to the centre, develop pieces efficiently, and castle quickly to protect my King.
Iain played the Scotch Opening, which I wasn’t very clued up on. My fundamental approach was going well, but I ended up a pawn down early. I was keeping pace with the clock and making decent moves, but gradually I fell behind. Overall, I played well despite losing. I went over the game with Iain and Rhys and was proud of my efforts. I had played to my strengths, as best I could.
The second game had a different outcome, right?
I was chatting to Graeme McKinnon, and he said, with the Swiss pairings system, as the rounds go on, I will have more evenly matched games with players on similar scores, who are closer to my level in experience and ability. But when the pairings went up, I realised I had another strong opponent, who was hundreds of points higher rated – Jass McNeill. Like Iain, I had played Jass before. He had been a massive help in my development during games at Queens Park and in the Club.
This game, I had the White pieces. Up until a few weeks before, I would play 1.e4 only and focus on fundamental opening principles from there. But I started looking at alternatives, and began playing a bit of the English opening. 1.c4 can be quite an explosive start, and I was really enjoying it. I watched some YouTube videos by Grandmasters, and instead of memorising moves, I learned about ideas relating to seeking control of the centre from the side. I was really enjoying learning it, and I thought, if nothing else, at least I’m going to have fun playing an opening I enjoy, with a player I like and admire.
The game itself was incredible. I started with a standard English set up. Jass found strong diagonals for his Bishops. I utilised my Queen and a strong central pawn set up a lot of central tension. Then I castled kingside and Jass queenside. Next, a bloodbath on the b and c files! I ended up slightly ahead, and when the dust settled, I was advancing dangerous pawns, using my Rooks and an active Queen to support them. I managed to promote a pawn, Jass sacrificed a Rook, I set up a check, and my attacking momentum was flowing in waves.
Then a question appeared: do I actually have mate here? I looked at the board for a long time, knowing it must be mate. Surely? My heart was pounding with excitement, but my head was racing with doubt. Have I missed something, could this really be a forced win? Finally, I went for it. I played the move, touched the clock, and Jass lifted his hand for the shake. It was an incredible moment. Relief, joy, and a sense that all of my hard work over the last seven months had come to fruition.
Congratulations. Your victory was fêted in our new weekly newsletter with a special ‘Wull S the Giant Killer’ illustration by Graeme and a full record of the game. Next up, you have registered to play an International Master in a simultaneous exhibition, and to represent Queens Park in the Scottish National Chess League. Are you looking forward to those experiences?
I’m really thankful to the club to have these kind of opportunities. They’ll be valuable learning experiences. I love to learn and to try new things in this beautiful game we play, and I look forward to representing a Club I’m proud to be a part of in team events.
“My heart was pounding, my head racing… finally, I played the move, and Jass lifted his hand for the shake. It was an incredible moment of relief and joy.”
Can you tell us about some of your highlights in music?
There’s been a few incredible moments. I spent a week recording in Chicago with the legendary Steve Albini, with a brand new bass waiting for me as I stepped in the studio. There’s certain bucket list things you don’t expect to achieve – it was an incredible experience. As a performer, it would maybe be playing the Wickerman festival. I went to my first Wickerman when I was maybe 16, 17. The local bands were a big inspiration for me. They made me think, “I could do that too”, and helped shape my goals. Going back and playing the Wickerman Souls Tent ten years later was incredible.
I also had the incredible privilege of playing at my own wedding – my wonderful wife Lynsey encouraged me to play a few songs. The band were mutual friends who I’ve deputised for many times in the past. It was just a beautiful day. Getting to share my skill with the people I love the most was incredible. And the chant of “Mammy Mammy Mammy F-ing Swales” for my Mum in between songs was amazing!
Playing the BBC Big Weekend was a really fun experience too. We were on the Introduction Stage with Royal Blood, and Katy Perry was headlining the main stage, she was unbelievable. Me and the drummer sneaked away to get a quiet beer at some point. We got stopped by security trying to get back, as there were “a lot of fake passes”. We had to prove our ID by showing them the BBC live stream – that was pretty cool.
It’s interesting, I’ve thought about this too. I think both music and chess have a basis in maths or science. You take basic principles, expand your knowledge, and test things out with a specific goal in mind. Then the beauty of creative art kicks in. You try different approaches and see what happens. That’s where the magic is born, in music and in chess.
Do you think there are strong parallels between learning a musical instrument and learning to play chess, such as deliberate solo practice, testing your skills as part of a group, and performing in front of others? Or are they fundamentally separate disciplines requiring different approaches?
There are definite links between the two. Building up basics, understanding what notes are, and how to build chords, could be considered similar to learning about how chess pieces move and interact with the board. Similarly, learning different scales has parallels with learning specific openings, and new techniques like bending guitar strings, are like learning about when to fianchetto your Bishop, and transposing chess board positions is similar to inversions of chords. With both, as your skill improves, you learn about how to build up in different ways to reach a specific goal.
There are genre characteristics too. The Sicilian opening is the jazz of chess, whereas the Ruy Lopez could be punk rock. I’m sure someone else could put it a lot more elegantly, but at its base level, there are definitely similarities. It’s the end result where they differ. You look to win in chess, while in music, the goal is to share your music, thoughts, feelings, emotions, grooves and energy.
Have you tried to expose your band members to the game?
I’ve been trying to encourage anyone I can to try it out.
We are both fans of the Californian band Weezer. What is your take on singer Rivers Cuomo’s song Chess?
Yeah I 100% love Weezer! “The Blue Album” is one of my favourite albums of all time, and three decades on, they are still producing some absolute bangers. Chess is an incredible song. It gives a 1960s Beatles/Quarrymen vibe. I guess it’s a metaphor for life, and how all the decisions you make affect how you develop as a person.
Even though there are things that make it harder sometimes, you need to roll with the punches, and try to anticipate your next move. You choose what parts of yourself you need to develop and that helps you grow – in chess as in life.
Through the local ‘chess in the park’ WhatsApp group, you have been sharing your journey of improving from a novice rating of 317 rapid on chess.com in July 2022 to over 750 in January 2023. Other group members have been impressed with your progress, especially in finding some elegant tactical ideas and mating nets. Are you pleased with your steady improvement?
I am delighted with my improvement so far. I remember in the early days of playing, people would be making comments like “and then the natural thing to do would be to transpose in to the Benoni…” or something like that. I would nod politely as if I knew what they were on about, while thinking, “OK Wull, just remember the horsey can move in an L shape!”
So I really like having a better understanding of the game, so I can start to handle situations better, read the board well, and make good moves. I think it was Todd Anderson (Magic The Gathering player) who said, “you don’t need to know how you’re going to win from turn one, but you should always have a plan”. Which is what I’m trying to focus on now.
“Music and chess have different genres: The Sicilian is the jazz of chess, whereas the Ruy Lopez is like punk rock.”
What tips would you share with a complete chess beginner, who has just learned how the pieces move?
Find fun in fundamentals, develop your pieces, castle early, try to control the centre of the board and take free pieces. Rhys put me on to ChessBrahs on YouTube – GMs Eric Hansen and Aman Hambleton. They have an excellent “Building Habits” series of videos. I watched and rewatched a bunch, following simple rules to help build up standard habits for good gameplay, while avoiding traps.
As I’ve mentioned earlier, I think it’s important to ask questions. If you don’t know why your opponent did something, ask them after the game. Analyse your games when you can, in person and online, and see where mistakes and triumphs are happening, so you have less of the former and more of the latter.
Is the English your favourite chess opening?
Currently, yes it is. I’m really enjoying playing it, and learning more and more about it as time goes on. In another comparison to the music, it’s the drop D guitar tuning of openings. It starts you from a new place and helps you develop fresh understanding from different viewpoints. I also love playing the Modern Defence as Black (1.d4 g6), using an early Bishop fianchetto to pressure the centre.
Do you have any chess goals – online or over the board?
Online over the next six months I will fight to exceed 1000 rapid rating on chess.com. In person, I will play in more tournaments, soak up the magic that chess has to offer, and work towards a Chess Scotland rating. I’d like to play one of the weekend Congress classical tournaments this year, with five long games in three days.
But mostly I just want to improve as a player and enjoy the ride. And of course, I still need to learn when it is natural to transpose into the Benoni.
Thanks for your time Wull!
This series will continue with a special double interview next month. For those who missed it, last month’s interviewee was Ash Angappan.
Image credits: Martin McKeown (main image of Wull performing); Club President Graeme McKinnon (illustration of Wull & Jass in weekly newsletter – created with the help of artificial intelligence).
What is it like to be part of Glasgow’s Queens Park Chess Club?
Each month, Derek Rankine (Club Secretary) interviews Queens Park members new and old and asks them to share their experiences and perspectives.
This month, Derek speaks to Ash Angappan, 26, who recently completed a master’s degree in Advanced Physiotherapy Practice at Glasgow Caledonian University. Ash is from a small town near Chennai in Tamil Nadu, south India, and currently lives in Tradeston, Glasgow.
Derek: Do you remember when you were first exposed to chess?
Ash: When I was 11 years old, my mother taught me to play chess. She also taught my sister. My sister was a strong opponent, who always played well and beat me quite easily in classical chess. We did not use a clock, but these were serious, longer games. I used to make moves quickly, but she would think a lot for each move, and win each time without much effort!
How much chess did you play in childhood?
I used to play with my sister and mother quite often, especially during holidays. I played with my cousins on vacation as well. I didn’t know anything about openings, but I knew the rules and how to checkmate.
I started chess at 11 years old and played until I was 17. I stopped playing to concentrate on my studies and get into University.
How did you get into playing chess online?
I started playing chess again in 2019, after finishing my undergraduate degree and getting my first job. I played online, which is easy to get into, but I used a lesser known app for casual play. I got to know about the impressive Lichess website in April 2020 and I started playing competitive games there.
Do you have any memorable achievements in online chess?
I remember I started playing Lichess tournaments at the rapid time control for players rated under 1500. The tournaments were an hour long. I think it was my 5th tournament, when I came 1st place!
I was delighted. I screenshotted my trophy and showed it to all my friends. After that, I started playing, quicker – blitz and bullet. I don’t find it easy to play so fast, but currently I am around 1670 rating in blitz and 1632 in bullet.
You are now moving back in the opposite direction, from mainly playing chess online, to mainly playing over the board. What differences are you observing between online and off, and how are you navigating the challenge?
Yes, I learned playing chess over the board, but during the pandemic, I played online. The biggest thing I noticed is that while playing online, as we don’t know the opponent, its looks and feels like a game with a computer. In over the board, it’s completely different. You can’t miss the reality you are competing against another human.
I am having some difficulty over the board at present, because I am used to viewing the board online. But I find I can remember moves I played over the board, even after a few days have passed. I feel this is important, because I am able to go over what I played to analyse and address my mistakes. Even though I have still not learned many openings, I am able to predict some moves before the opponent plays. As I love chess, whatever happens on the board, even if I lose a game, I feel good.
You are one of several University students in Queens Park. How are you finding the balance of playing chess and developing your skills, alongside studies and other commitments?
I would say that playing chess has really improved my confidence. I find that after an over the board game, I feel enthusiastic. Sometimes after coming home after Chess Club, I would be motivated to complete assignments. I feel that my brain is more active after playing chess – I literally feel the same way as I do after a plank exercise workout.
As I love chess, whatever happens on the board, even if I lose a game, I feel good.
Did you play in any Chess Clubs or tournaments in India?
Unfortunately, I haven’t played any tournaments in India, and I wasn’t a member of any Chess Club there. I regret that I was not active in organised chess when I was India.
You moved from India to Scotland in the last two years. What differences, if any, have you noticed between the general popularity and culture of chess in the two countries?
There is a major culture change, but I am pleased chess is widely played in both countries. The biggest difference is the weather. I came to Glasgow alone, without having any friends, but people in the city helped make me feel comfortable quickly.
I really love being in Glasgow. People are so friendly, and the city is a good place to live and study. I did find it difficult last year because of the winter, but now I am starting to get used to the weather!
Chess can help fill our long winter nights! Staying with India, Vishy Anand was World Champion before Magnus Carlsen. As of December 2022, Vishy is still in the top ten, at the age of 52. What influence has he had on the general development of chess in India?
He will always be the hero of chess in India. My Mum used to talk about Vishy a lot when I was young. I am a big fan of Vishy’s, I have followed his progress off and on. Things changed a lot after Vishy won the 2007 World Championship. Now, there are a lot of Chess Clubs, super-strong players, top coaches, and a lot of general encouragement for people to play chess.
This all led to India hosting the Chess Olympiad this year, which is really a proud moment for India. As Vishy is from Chennai, which is in Tamil Nadu, that makes me a little prouder of my home state.
Going back to 1988, Anand had just become the first Grandmaster in India. It’s amazing to see the progress: now there are more than 75, and several young prodigies like Vidit Gujrathi, Dommaraju Gukesh and Arjun Erigaisi are in the top 30 globally and rising fast. Do you think we will see another World Champion from India in the near future?
I am certain that there will be another World Champion from India. I think you missed out Praggnanandha, who famously defeated the current World Champion, Magnus Carlsen, this year. I could also name some other talented young players from India who I can imagine competing to be World Champion in future.
As soon as I came to Glasgow, I started looking for Chess Clubs, but due to my studies, I didn’t have time for one to start with. As soon as I got settled, I started my search again. I posted a question in the Queens Park Chess Club Facebook group, and got a reply very quickly, which made me very happy to join.
What do you remember of your first visit to the Chess Club? Did the Club make a good first impression?
Yes, I do remember, and it did. The people in the Club were so friendly. Paul, Caitlin and others welcomed me and I was added to the WhatsApp group. I played a couple of good games on the first day, which really made me happy.
What do you like most about the Chess Club?
Friendly people who teach me about openings and endgames. Alistair taught me endgames, which really helped me to improve my game. Alex taught me some new openings. I like how people exchange their knowledge and share their thoughts freely to help others.
What would you like to see the Chess Club do better, or differently?
The club is doing good so far! I would like to see more classes though.
With so many super-strong players and top coaches, I am certain that there will be another World Champion from India.
Chess has a notorious gender imbalance. Most Chess Clubs around the world are mainly, or entirely, male. What do you think would support or encourage more women to participate?
Yes, that’s true. When I came to the Chess Club, I saw only very few females and overall, I think females are a small proportion of the membership. How to fix this? One idea is, schools could provide chess classes for girls, once a week.
Have you personally had any negative experiences in chess because of your gender, whether online or in person?
When I was in India, I was speaking to one of my neighbours, who told me that he plays chess. I told him that I too play chess but without playing with me, he assumed: your rating must be 600. I replied to him, in fact, my rating is 1600. Then I played many rapid games with him, in which I won all the games. He prejudged me because I am a female.
I hope he learned his lesson. Do you think cultural developments in recent decades, such as Judit Polgar’s incredible career and Anya Taylor Joy’s performance in The Queen’s Gambit, are helpful in promoting the game to women?
Yes, I really do. When I watched The Queen’s Gambit I was stunned with her acting and the quality of the chess. I started thinking of my moves after sleeping, which is funny! I think there should be more movies to encourage women to play chess.
You are only beginning to learn about chess openings, but do you have a favourite?
I like playing Queen’s Pawn openings, which I feel is a little more secure for the White king and a safer way to play.
Do you have a favourite chess player, from past or present?
November 2022 was another packed month for the Club. Business continued for our three teams in the Glasgow and Dunbartonshire Chess Leagues, the Beltrami Club Championship got underway, and we initiated a Club Leaderboard. We were represented at national tournaments in Oban and Livingston, and we hosted a group of visitors from the admirable Freedom From Torture charity.
We reached an impressive milestone of 40 members, making Queens Park one of the bigger chess clubs in Scotland. That is all the more impressive given it doesn’t include non-members who: join us in Wellcroft Bowling Club for casual chess on Tuesdays; play in the Thursday Chess Group; and/or join our meetups on Sunday mornings. Full details follow.
32 players competed in the first round of our Club Championship, sponsored by law firm Beltrami & Co. The tournament provides an opportunity for members of all abilities to test their classical skills, gain or improve upon a national rating, and compete for the prestigious trophy.
Round one winners included the Club’s highest rated players Tommy Lally (1616) and Craig Thomson (1606), and defending champion Rhys McCrosson (1477). On the lower boards, unrated newcomers Connor Thompson, Andrew Speirs, Ash Angappan and Paul Stewart also picked up full points. Full results here.
Round two, which has the designated date of Tuesday 10 January, will see six new Members join the tournament. Players unavailable on this date may arrange for their game to take place later in January. The round two draw will be made by Tournament Controller Alex Lane in early December, and will pair winners against winners using the Swiss format.
This month saw the launch of Queens Park’s own elo system in a special Club Leaderboard administered by Club President Graeme McKinnon. “Queens Park elo” does not contribute to Chess Scotland or FIDE ratings – but it does provide all-important bragging rights.
The Leaderboard is open to members and non-members alike, and simply involves playing a timed over-the-board rapid game (10+0, 15+0 or 30+0) with another player during a Club night, and recording the outcome in a score slip.
All players start at 1200. At the end of November, Rhys McCrosson leads and is the first player to cross the 1300 threshold, out of more than 30 players that have played at least one Leaderboard game to date. Click here to see the standings and rules.
Congratulations to Queens Park’s Jordan McNaught, a surprise joint winner of the Major section of the 2022 Oban Congress. Jordan, ungraded, was one of three players to share the prize money with 3.5/5.
Just behind on 3/5 were Alex Lane and Alex Radevic, while Derek Rankine scored 2.5/5. With Queens Park supplying the three lowest seeds of 14 players, it was an impressive outcome for the Club.
Queens Park was also represented in the Minor section by Iain Shields, who got 2.5/5, while Strathclyde Uni’s Liu Zizheng, who regularly visits Queens Park, achieved 2/5 in the Challengers section.
The five round classical tournament (75 mins per player for the first 30 moves, then an additional 30 mins per player) was held in Oban’s Royal Hotel on the weekend of 18-20 November.
International Master Andrew Greet, who will be visiting Queens Park on 31 January 2023 for a special 22 board simultaneous exhibition, won the tournament’s Open section with 4.5/5. An invitation to the simul will be shared with Members in early January.
In the internationally rated Minor section, Connor Thompson achieved three consecutive wins to finish on 3/5, while Jonny Linney got 2/5 and Ryan McGill got 1/5. The time control for the five round Swiss pairings event was 20+10.
Freedom From Torture
The international charity Freedom From Torture, which provides therapy and support for people who are recovering from torture, visited Queens Park this month. The charity’s Scottish branch runs a chess group for some of its service users. On 23 November, the group joined us for some casual games and advice on learning and development.
Our Members greatly enjoyed meeting the group and sharing some tips around opening principles and middlegame strategy. The group have an open invitation to join us again anytime in future.
Our interview series continued with Ryan McGill as our November subject. Ryan is an enthusiastic new Member who arrived at Queens Park Chess Club via our local partner, Thursday Chess Group.
In his interview, Ryan tells us about how his interest in the game developed, picks out several highlights from his first few months in the Club, and shares some useful advice to newer players.
Meanwhile, the Thursday Chess Group is also growing in size. This month they set up home in a new location, the Corona Bar in Shawlands. Thanks to a successful joint bid to the Thriving Govanhill Fund, players no longer have to bring their own chess sets, and can turn up for a game anytime from 6pm on Thursday.
Our internal Club training sessions continued with Alex Radevic hosting one on practical endgames on 29 November. Alex used our new demonstration board (purchased with Thriving Govanhill funding) to set up and work through a series of positions with a group of eight.
Next month, Graeme McKinnon will take a class on developing an opening repertoire. The session will be particularly valuable to those at intermediate level who are less clear about how to build up an appropriate depth of knowledge in their favoured openings. A session invitation will be shared via the Club Member WhatsApp group next month.
Queens Park’s impressive start in the Glasgow Chess League continued with a 2-2 draw away to the Glasgow University A team on 16 November. The result, achieved from wins by Tommy Lally and Paul Cumming on boards two and four respectively, keeps Queens Park’s promotion chances in good health at the top of Division 3b.
In the Dumbarton & District Chess League, Queens Park’s A team in Division 1 lost 0.5-3.5 at home to Stepps A. Craig Thomson achieved Queens Park’s half point by drawing an opponent rated more than 400 points higher, and ungraded Connor Thomson put up a tremendous fight against 2000+ rated Stepps opponent John Henderson.
Queens Park’s B team had mixed fortunes in Division 2 of the Dunbartonshire League. Caitlin McCulloch captained the team to an impressive 3.5-0.5 win away to a Giffnock side featuring her father, Andy, on 7 November. The following week, on 15 November, the team suffered a 4-0 defeat at home to an impressive Strathclyde University side. The second game saw league debuts for new and ungraded Queens Park Members Sachin Vats, Greg Forrest and Sagar Kukreja.
The Dunbartonshire teams are frequently rotated with a view to giving newer players experience alongside some of our higher rated Members. Those wishing to join a future team are encouraged to respond to calls for league players issued by captains in the Members WhatsApp group.
As some Members have reported difficulty finding the latest league tables, this website will feature a regularly updated set of tables on a dedicated new League Info page. In addition, our website calendar also provides detail on all league fixtures across the 2022/23 season, as well as special events.
In early 2023, Queens Park will be going national. We have registered teams in two Scotland-wide Cup competitions – the Spens and the Richardson.
The ‘first’ Queens Park Chess Club, which was active from the 1870s to the 1930s, won the prestigious Spens Cup on several occasions. While it is unlikely we will match their success on our first try, we will look forward to following in their footsteps and testing ourselves against other Clubs across the country in the five board Cup.
Queens Park may be entering the Scottish National Chess League too. The Committee are considering an invitation to join Division Five for the current season, with fixtures beginning in January.
Finally, those in Govanhill and Shawlands may have spotted our above poster, highlighting the three regular and free-to-attend chess meetups around Queens Park. The posters are currently on display in community noticeboards and selected venues.
October was a busy and productive month for Queens Park Chess Club. Our three league teams had two matches each, we had good representation in the Major and Minor section of the Dundee Congress, and we met Grandmaster Daniel King.
One immediate use of the grant will be to purchase additional chess sets for the Club and for our local partner, the Thursday Chess Group, to address recent shortages and enable even more people around the Queens Park area to join us for casual and competitive chess.
Read on to learn how our players fared in six league matches and a national tournament.
Our Division 3b Team, captained by Rhys McCrosson, got off to a winning start away to the talented juniors of Hamilton C, scoring 3.5 to 0.5. This included a win on board one for J Craig T Thomson, formerly of East Kilbride, in his first game for Queens Park – and his first league game in decades!
The second match was at home to Lenzie Dementors, another extremely strong junior side. The score was 3-1, with wins for Rhys McCrosson, Paul Cumming and Jordan McNaught. The two wins put Queens Park top of the league at the end of October.
There are many fixtures to come, and next month will see the team visit Glasgow University A, who are also likely to be pushing for promotion to Division 2. Results and standings are available on the Glasgow Chess League website.
The first game resulted in a loss away to Renfrewshire. Jordan McNaught won for Queens Park on board two. Tommy Lally, formerly of Airdrie and Shettleston Chess Clubs, and currently Queens Park’s strongest player by grading, was winning his game on board one and almost saved a draw, but a mistake in time pressure led to a 3-1 loss.
The A team drew its second game, home to Phones A on 24 October. The away side had the impressive Pavlos Bozinakis, rated 2177 FIDE, on board one. Pavlos had to work hard to beat 1481 rated Alex Radevic. A win from Graeme McKinnon, and draws by Harvey Dellanzo and Derek Rankine achieved the team’s first league point of the season. See Division 1 results and standings.
Caitlin McCulloch – who this month joined the Club Committee – captains Queens Park B in the Dumbarton league Division 2. The first game featured four unrated players against Bearsden B. Harry Thomson picked up his first win for the Club on board four in a 3-1 home defeat on 11 October.
In the second match, away to Stepps B on 27 October, the team secured a 2.5-1.5 victory, with wins from Chris Dinwoodie and Jonny Linney, and Tommy Lally got a draw on board one. See Dumbarton Division 2 results and standings.
The Dumbarton league fixtures provided valuable experience for many players new to competitive, classical over-the-board chess. Next up for Queens Park B is away to Giffnock on 7 November (Caitlin’s father, Andrew, plays for Giffnock, raising prospects for an inter-family clash!). The A team host Stepps A the following evening.
A contingent from Queens Park attended the Dundee Chess Congress (pictured above) on the weekend of 14-16 October. Held in the University of Dundee’s Chaplaincy Centre, the five round classical event (time control: 90+15) featured three sections – Premier, Major and Minor.
The Premier section was tied by IM Andrew Greet of Bearsden and FM Keith Ruxton of Sandy Bells Chess Club. IM Greet kindly donated several chess sets to Queens Park at the start of the 2022/23 season, and has agreed in principle to give a simultaneous match against our Members in early 2023. We intend to arrange a date and issue a call for players later in the Autumn.
Three Queens Park Members competed in the Major section – Alex Lane, Rhys McCrosson, and Jordan McNaught. They were joined by Liu Zizheng of Strathclyde University, a regular visitor to Queens Park, who finished on an impressive 2.5 points out of 5.
In round two, Rhys achieved a superb victory with the Black pieces against top seed Donald Heron, rated 1797. Rhys finished on 2 points. Alex scored three draws to get 1.5/5, and achieved a national rating of 1316 in the process, while Jordan finished on the same score with one win and one draw.
Iain Shields and Chess in the Park & Thursday Chess Group regular Ronnie Martin played in the Minor section. Both finished on 2 points, Ronnie scoring two wins and three losses, Iain achieving a win and two draws.