Castlehill Chess Club Origin

This is a brief history of the club, the origins of which have been cobbled together from memory and anecdotes as there is no written record of its beginning.

According to one of the founding members, Jim R Chalmers, the club was formed in the early 70s and was based at the Kirkton Community Centre, and was called the ‘Self-programming Chess and Draughts Club’. This was later shortened to the ‘Kirkton Community Centre Chess Club’. Jim recalls the other original members as Andy and Peter Millan, Gordon Ramage and Jim Page.

Jim recalls that soon after formation the members were fired with enthusiasm to form a team and enter the TAFCA League. Jim entered a team (4 boards) and their first fixture was an away match at Blairgowrie. The other members got cold feet and declined to play, so Jim went to the Corner Bar where he knew some of the regulars played. He collared three volunteers, they played the match and won 4 – 0. Thereafter the club members found their courage and Jim had no further trouble filling the boards.

The earliest written record is the minutes of the AGM of 1978 which had an unfortunate outcome. The election of team captains led to several members leaving. They formed another club, Dundee West End.

1979 was the first in a period of several years during which a number of changes of premises were made. The reasons for the first change, which was a move to Menzieshill Community Centre, were not recorded. The club was required to change its name to Menzieshill Chess Club.

In 1980-81 season the next move was to the ‘1314 Club’ in Dundee City Centre, which were the premises of the SNP. There were two main reasons for this change: firstly, it was central, which Menzieshill was not, and secondly several of our members were also members of the 1314 Club and were able to secure promises of support. It was decided to change our club name to reflect the association.  In February 1981 we lost Z.K. (Konrad) Wierzbicki, who died at the board of a league match at Dundee University. A memorial tournament was instituted in his memory and which runs to this day.

Andy Millan, who had been President/Secretary since the club’s earliest years resigned at the 1981 AGM. He was succeeded by Keith Rose who was to hold these posts until 1996.

In the Summer of ’82 the 1314 Club closed. Promises were made of reopening the following year, but in the meantime we became somewhat nomadic. Dundee Chess Club were kind enough to allow us to use their premises for club nights whilst League matches in the living room of one of our members, George Wanless. After a short period we moved to the Labour Club in Roseangle.

In March 1984 we moved yet again, back to the 1314 Club which was renamed ‘Castlehill Club’, where we were to remain for (   ) years. This time we had the almost exclusive use of an upper floor and this allowed us to begin a growth which continued for a number of years. A junior club was started, a second club night added and a fourth team was entered in the TAFCA League. [In progress – to be completed/updated]