Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Streatham Chess Club
"We're a friendly group of players, who welcome players of all standards and ages" - is a boast many chess clubs would like to make. When I went along to find out what our friends and neighbours at Streatham Chess Club get up to, in their weekly Wednesday meetings from 3pm-8pm at Streatham Library, I found that they could not only say that about themselves - but a whole lot more besides. Here's my report.
Streatham Chess Club was founded around two years ago by Mark (pictured right.) In that short time the club has clearly flourished: when I visited, there were around twenty players playing friendly games (and sometimes suicide chess), chatting of course, learning from and teaching each other - and then also competing in the more serious clocked games of their internal league. The Library provides an excellent space for all this, with tables nicely spread out across the room - and the competition tends to hot up around 6pm, as the more experienced players turn up. (Some of whom Streatham & Brixton Chess Club members will also know well, as they play for us too in the Croydon and London League, under the captaincy of Mel - pictured left, below.)
Before that things are more casual, and Stan at the main table (pictured right, below with piece in hand) does an expert job of welcoming newcomers and teaching novices the ropes. And I mean expert - I was learning things both about chess, and techniques for teaching it too. A friendly atmosphere pervades the whole club, confirmed when some of us went out afterward to watch England lose at football.
On top of that, the club definitely has a real community ethos. Being located in the middle of the busy Streatham High Road, not charging fees, easy to find in a Public Library, and open from afternoon to evening - all these things bring together different people from the surrounding area's complex multicultural mix. So much so, the club in fact has players from over a dozen nations - for whom chess is now a common language.
In short - if you live near enough in south London and are remotely interested in chess, you should make this a regular fixture in your diary for Wednesdays. (Or you can email Stan for more information, if you prefer.)
I'll certainly be popping along from time to time - so perhaps I'll even see you there?
Note: there's an update on the chess club at Streatham Library here.