50 Year Celebrations for Chess Club
A STAFFORDSHIRE Moorlands Chess Club marked their 50th anniversary in style with a special celebration event.
Cheddleton and Leek Chess Club – which was founded in 1973 by Robert Milner, Phil Birks and Ashley Wood – who used to meet at the then, Jarvis Arms pub, in the village of Oncote and were all avid chess players.
One year after forming, the club joined the North Staffordshire Chess League and in 1978 won the Championship for the first time ever.
Fast forward to 2023, and the club has won the championship a total 32 times – the last time was three years ago.
The 50th anniversary celebration event took place on 11 August, at St Andrews Methodist Church, in Cheddlton, and was attended by the Lord Mayor of Leek Cllr Matt Swindlehurst as well as friends and supporters of the club.
“Chess is such a great thing to play and be involved in,” said founder and chairman Robert Milner, aged 79.
“We have enjoyed many successes and as well as being in the North Staffordshire League, we also entered a team in the National Chess League (4NCL) in 2004.
“We had such a great time celebrating our anniversary and it was wonderful to see the Lord Mayor there as well as friends of Chess – some even travelled in from Scotland to celebrate with us.”
Robert himself was first inspired to play chess after coming across a colleague whilst training to be a teacher in 1969 and from there he has continued to champion the game.
“We had a temporary teacher who was really interested in playing Chess and also getting the children at the school involved,” says Robert.
“After the teacher left I was put in charge of carrying on chess at the school and in 1970, we had inspectors who came into the school and actually encouraged us to keep teaching it – which was wonderful.
“Two years later I entered the school into a National Primary Competition and when some of the students went on to high school they asked me where they could play regularly.”
From the inspiration at the school and conversations with friends Phil and Ashley the Cheddleton Chess Club was formed – which became the Cheddleton and Leek Chess Club following a collaboration of the two in 1973.
Robert would now like to see Chess played more by school children UK and Worldwide.
Robert adds: “I absolutely believe children should learn to play chess – it brings so many things – such as how to calculate, how to win graciously, how to lose graciously and so much more.
“I’d like to see as many children getting involved and to have chess taught across UK schools – in the long term future I’d really like that to happen. If it were to be part of the curriculum than that would be fantastic.”
Cheddleton and Leek Chess Club The club, which originally had nine teams currently has five in different divisions of the North Staffordshire District Chess Association League. Members meet each Friday from 7:30pm at St Andrews Methodist Church, Ostler’s Lane, Cheddleton, ST13 7HS
League matches will start again in October and run through until May.
(Images courtesy of Cheddleton and Leek Chess Club. Ashley Wood, Robert Milner, Phil Birks and Councillor Matt Swindlehurst (Mayor of Leek). Members playing a tournament – Jacob Boswell, David Millington and Sam Parry.)
For more information please visit https://cheddletonchessclub.blogspot.com/