Hammersmith Chess Club: A New Frontier

Five years ago, Hammersmith chess club was facing down the shotgun barrel of certain extinction. Yet another chess club set to join the annals of history and those many chess clubs who have passed away in the last quarter of century.

A website that was woeful, no social media, an ageing membership and a financial position that would not even register an Experion credit score. These were grim times with neither the will or the energy present in the club to reverse the decline.

Fortunately, the glorious June revolution happened and under the astute chairmanship of Bajrush “Wily” Kelmendi a complete overhaul of the club has been undertaken.

The club now boasts a healthy membership, a junior section and competes with multiple teams in four different chess leagues.

With this growth has come the added pressure on our venue capacity at Lytton Hall – affectionally known as “The Anvil” – we can have no more than 50 people in the Hall at any one time. Lytton has been our home for nigh on 40 years and has been an instrumental part of our club for two-thirds of our existence.

But as they say – nothing lasts forever – and the time is right for Hammersmith to move on.

Ever since the AGM in June your Committee has been acutely aware of the limitations of Lytton – with the obvious realisation we needed a new base. The fact we had to split match nights from club nights is far from ideal and has put pressure on the natural camaraderie in the club. We needed a new base – a new Anvil.

Both the Irish Cultural Centre and the POSK centre were looked at. Although both are superb venues, they were slightly too big. Then out of the blue came the Young Chelsea Bridge Club based at Goldhawk Rd. Read on to find out more.

The YCBC is the preeminent bridge club in London with a superb facility one minute’s walk from Goldhawk tube station or a 7-minute walk from Shepherds Bush Station.

They host both international and domestic bridge competitions.

Please check out their website: http://ycbc.co.uk/

The premises boast a café section where you can buy food, tea, coffee, soft drinks and beer.

One of several rooms at YCBC

They currently also host a Go club and Backgammon club as well – indeed the addition of Hammersmith Chess Club completes the circle and promotes the centre as Mindsports Central.

The benefits of the move are as follows:

  • We can have both match night and club night on the same evening
  • We will have the room we want to make this happen
  • The benefit of having a bar and restaurant on-site
  • A competitive rent fixed for the next five years
  • The facilities will be available to us for 52 weeks of the year if we want the bank holidays. The main thing is we will not have to have be based in an alternative venue for the summer.
  • The venue is far more appealing to women, juniors and discerning old gits like myself
  • This venue will make us more likely to recruit new members and retain them.
  • Our members have the option to also try out new Mindsports.
  • The Bridge club has allowed us to still play this season’s matches on the Tuesday in the club calendar
  • We are able to hire the facilities from 6pm-10.30pm 

The move has been agreed by the Committee and we intend to open up there on the 6th January 7th January 2020. Our last night at Lytton Hall will be the match night of the 18th December 2019.

We probably will not run a Junior section that night as we will be getting used to our new home.

This is probably the most exciting moment in the development of our club. I am sure there will be teething problems but the Committee and I believe this is absolutely right for us.

I would like to thank Dawn and the Lytton Hall residents Committee for all their help and support over the years. They are all volunteers and very good community people.

I would also like to thank David Parry from the YCBC for being extremely accommodating and professional in the negotiations.

On a final note – change is good – maybe not always – but it does prove that you are alive and kicking.

I invite you all to be there on the 6th of January to see our new home.

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy Chess New Year.

John aka Lord Clueless