Historic Black Country chess club looking for new members


Julie Wilson from Stourbridge Chess Club

Stourbridge Chess Club, which was founded in 1852, is currently playing games online due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Club president Julie Wilson, 64, says chess is a good way to exercise the mind.

She said: “It doesn’t really matter if you are a good or bad player.

“If you can find an opponent who is the same strength, you can have an enjoyable game.

“You will learn a lot more from the games you lose. It is good for the brain.”

Before the pandemic, the club met at Stourbridge Institute.

However that stopped in March when the country went into lockdown.

Ms Wilson said this was the same for clubs and leagues across the country.

The club has 25 members online with players’ ages ranging from 10 up to 80.

It would still be possible for the club to hold physical games, if social-distancing took place through the Government’s rule-of-six, she said.

However this has not happened yet. Ms Wilson said she does not know when the club will go back to meeting in person.

It would only happen when the rule-of-six policy was no longer being enforced.

One of the downsides of players not been able to “play over the board” – a physical game – is that you cannot read your opponent’s body language, said Ms Wilson.

“If they make a blunder you can see it on their face,” she said.

But one of the advantages of virtual chess games is the ability to play with opponents across the world, she added.

She recently represented Wales in an international competition which involved 163 countries.

Ms Wilson said Stourbridge Chess Club is one of the oldest clubs in the country.

She herself had been playing chess for 60 years and joined the club’s ranks in 1994.

The club plays competitively. Its past titles include the 2019 Pittaway Cup which was organised by the Wolverhampton league.

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