Hertford Chess Club had various homes in the town centre in the 1970’s and 80’s before disbanding. It reformed in 1991 in the Hertford Club, recommended to the founders John Foster and Fred Portch by Bowen Wells, MP for Hertford and Stortford. It has remained there ever since and meets in the first floor Chauncy Room from the middle of September until the end of May (the chess season) from 7.45 pm on Tuesday evenings. Fred was President from 1991 until 2012 and took the unusual step of avoiding competitive play in favour of welcoming and encouraging new arrivals. Our ethos remains to encourage both social and competitive chess, and our current membership is about 20 players.
Visiting Hertford Chess Club isn’t daunting. Its players vary in strength from International Master (IM) at one end down to Woodpusher – weak club player – at the other. The simple thing they all share is a love of the game: the sheer joy of a battle over the board in convivial company and surroundings.
Although most of our members are involved in competitive chess, you are welcome to come down on a Tuesday night and just play socially. A competition game of chess can last a whole evening, unless you ‘blunder’ in which case you can retire to the bar. Social games are usually played at a faster rate – for fun.
We currently have 3 teams in the Herts Chess Association league; an U120 league (this one is grade limited); another team in the Herts & District league, and we enter 4 teams in the knockout competition. Many players play in more than one team. Most of the season hinges on our teams hosting or visiting other clubs in the area to compete in these league and competition matches. All players earn a grade, a measure of their chess ability, and this determines their place in a team. A summary of the club’s Honours can be found here.
There are at least two social evenings a year where those who want to (most of us) visit a local pub or restaurant. Some members occasionally organise a trip to a special chess event e.g. The London Chess Classic, where there’s the chance to appreciate the world’s top Grandmasters.
In April there is an annual weekend chess congress in St Albans. Up to 200 players are attracted to this. The county runs 3 teams, U160, U140 and U120. These matches, held on a Saturday or Sunday, are against other county teams such as Essex, Kent, Norfolk, etc. Up to 16 players comprise a county team and the winner(s) go on to the national final stages.
Adult members pay £60 to join the Hertford Chess Club and there is an additional £16 to join the English Chess Federation (ECF). You must be an ECF member if you play more than 3 competitive, i.e. graded, games a year. A visitor, a potential new member perhaps, to the club can play socially free of charge for up to a whole season as an incentive to get to know both us and the game. We are open to junior members (14 to 18 yrs) by invitation.