Club History

The earliest record of chess in Letchworth is a newspaper report on the inaugural meeting of the club in January 1922.  The report notes that the Letchworth Chess club duly appointed officials for 1922 and was meeting in the Willow Café, Leys Avenue and during the summer in the garden of the club chairman on Norton Way South.  The club was recorded as comprising male and female members and meeting each Tuesday evenings with discussion on a second evening if numbers improved.  

Club activity in 1922 is recorded as weekly games between members, a match against Hitchin players and a simultaneous display by Sir Elgar Wigram from the Herts Chess League.  The following photo of members playing during Sumer 1922 is taken from the Letchworth Archive collection.  Our members are all wearing suit jackets and trousers whilst 3 of the men are wearing light coloured, trilby style hats, others have placed their hats on the floor by their sides.

Following the closure of the Willow Café, the club met for many years at the Garden City Hotel, on the corner of Station Road and Norton Way South

A match in 1935 between the club and a chess team from the Letchworth Settlement was reported in the local press and this seem to be representative of many local matches played at the time.  

The club increased in strength over our early years with Messrs Rickard and Rumney winning County Championships and then in 1968/69 the club won its first county title.  As evidenced by the Honours Board, from 1968/69 onwards Letchworth Club members and club teams have enjoyed regular success’s at county level and perhaps unsurprisingly many club members have been selected for the Herts County teams.     

During the post-war period our club changed its name to the Letchworth and Baldock Chess Club after it was offered a venue at the John Goodenay Sports Centre at the Kayser Bondor site (now Tesco’s).  Subsequently, in the 1970’s, the club moved to Plinston Hall on Broadway then following closure of that venue we had a short year-round period at our summer venue (Three Horseshoes, in Willian) before arriving in 2014 at our current home, the Letchworth Settlement in Neville’s Road.  At one point during our residency at Plinston Hall the club changed its name to Letchworth and Hitchin, whilst continuing to welcome members from all surrounding villages.