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 4 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.
Hertford Chess Club now has an internet presence. To play on it you need to sign up with chess.com. It’s free.
Chess.com   Go to www.chess.com, and click on the "Sign Up" button on the left-hand side. Choose a username for yourself, provide your email address and invent a memorable password. Enter whatever skill level you think is appropriate. That’s all there is to it.
Joining the Online Hertford Chess Club   Once you can log in to chess.com, use the chess.com menu on the left-hand side and go to Connect > Clubs and search for “Hertford Chess Club”. You will see 2 are listed. One was formed back in 2010 and has 1 member – don’t click this one. We aren’t sure who set that one up and it does not seem to be active anymore – we will see whether we can get it deleted to avoid confusion. Click on the one that has a few members and was formed in 2020. Now select the “Members” option. You will see a list of all those who have already joined. Click the option to become a member. Mark Buswell is the administrator and if he recognises you as a club member will grant and acknowledge your online membership.
Once you are a member your username will appear in the members list. Become familiar with the icons alongside, hovering over each in turn to understand its meaning. Click on the "Add Friend" icon - this will result in the member receiving a message inviting them to accept you as a friend. Note the “Challenge” icon which should be self-explanatory.
Playing online   There are several ways to play a club member or indeed any friend, (or just a random person from around the world). Contact your opponent by WhatsApp, message or email to agree a time to play. You might want to agree the rate of play beforehand e.g. 5 mins, 15 mins or whatever.
It is suggested you be online a minute or two before the scheduled time. The members list of the Hertford Chess Club clearly tells you who is online and one of you can issue your challenge from there.
Another way to get a game is sign in and see which members and/or friends are online. Example: Click on Connect > Friends and pick one to challenge.
Once the game is in progress you can chat to one another using the box to the lower right of the board.
Even if no club members or any of your other friends are online you can actually just request a game with the rate of play you prefer – the system will automatically pair you against another opponent of similar strength who is also looking for a game with the same time control.
Online Tournaments   There will be online club tournaments from 8.00pm every Tuesday. Club members will be invited to join, but it’s your decision to do so or not. If you do want to join you must go online from up to an hour before and click to join. You must have joined the tournament before the 8pm cut off. Games start automatically 8pm sharp. At the moment, until membership increases, they are most likely to be 5 min blitz – probably no more than 5 rounds. Should there not be a tournament any particular week, then why not go online at 8.00pm anyway and see who is around to challenge.
Inter-Club Matches   We are investigating arranging matches with other clubs. Volunteers please to help organise this.
Viewing Club Games   It is easy If you want to watch online games being played by other club members. To do this on the chess.com website. Go to Play > Live Chess. On the right-hand side, there is a row of icons on a grey background. One of them will be the "Friends" icon (two people in silhouette). Click on this icon, and you will get a list of your friends who are currently online. If they are currently playing, you can click on the name of either player followed by the "Observe Game" icon (which looks like a pair of binoculars) and you will then be viewing their game in real time. The resultant display shows the pieces on the board, the moves, and the state of the clocks; you can click on a move, or use the left and right arrow keys on your keyboard, to move backwards or forwards through the game.
Updates   These guidelines will be updated as our experience grows.
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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.
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.
Hertford Chess Club is a chess club playing at Lombard House, Bull Plain, Hertford SG14 1DT. The Hertford Chess Club is committed to protecting and respecting the privacy of its members.
This policy is in response to the legislation entitled General Data Protection Regulation [GDPR] which came into force on the 25th May 2018.
Hertford Chess Club collects personal information data on its members including some or all of: name, email address, telephone number and postal address.
The personal data is held by the relevant officers of the club for the following purposes, namely to:
The club will hold personal data for as long as a person is a member and for a reasonable time afterwards.
Unless required by law, personal data will not be shared with any third party, other than to satisfy the above collection requirements.
Members can ask for a copy of the data we hold about them.
Should any member have any unresolved complaints about the way we process your personal data, you have the right to make a formal complaint to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).