Here is a list of the current chess clubs located in Northumberland and Durham.
I want to get into chess. Where do I start?
Most of the clubs in Divisions 2 and 3 have regular opportunities for keen newcomers. Under the “board” system used in team chess events, the strongest player on a team is named to Board 1. The next strongest to Board 2 and so on down to Board 5. They face off against the player on the same board from the opposing team. So you’ll find the league’s strongest players on Board 1 in Division 1. Then the beginners on Board 5 in Division 3. How long it would take you to go from “how does the horse move” to “beginner” varies. Losing games of chess is a great learning experience. If you’re okay with the possibility of doing some heroic learning, there are clubs that will pick you for a league team almost immediately.
Of course, you don’t have to get into competitive play as soon as possible. There are lots of players who go along to clubs just for fun. Check the descriptions below when you’re choosing between the clubs. Although some clubs don’t have regular meetings outside of their league fixtures.
I want to get into a chess club and I’m under 18 / my child is under 18. Where do I start?
Jesmond and Forest Hall both run junior sections. The Northumbria Junior Chess Association can put you in touch with them. Alternatively you can come along to a Forest Hall Rockets, Forest Hall Invicta or Jesmond Wasps match. If you’re in County Durham, there are also junior clubs at Durham City and Darlington. Other adult clubs have individual policies regarding juniors which may ask for a parent to be present. Please get in touch via email@example.com and we’ll work out what’s best.
Thursday 7.30pm – just turn up
Alnwick RFC, Greensfield Avenue, Alnwick NE66 1BE
How to get in touch: visit the clubs website
Opportunities for league chess: Possibly, their single team seems to have quite a few reserves already. Go along and beat a few of the regulars, and who knows?
Opportunities for social chess: Plenty. They’re in the unique situation of playing all their league matches, home and away at Morpeth Chess Club on Wednesdays. Their Thursday club nights are never disrupted by league fixtures and are purely for social and practice games.
Wednesday 7.15pm – just turn up
Morpeth RFC, Grange House Field, Mitford Road, Morpeth NE61 1RJ
How to get in touch: visit the clubs website
Opportunities for league chess: There’s a title-chasing A team and a yo-yo B team. They could both do with at least two extra squad members. Sadly their 3rd Division team is no more, so please join Morpeth, everyone. Hopefully it can reappear next year!
Opportunities for social chess: There are usually a few players around to give you a game.
Thursday 7.00pm – just turn up
St Helen’s St, Corbridge NE45 5BE
How to get in touch: visit the club website
Opportunities for league chess: Generally good, but the stakes are high this season. New members will normally play a few matches in the South Tyne League to get themselves into shape for a Northumbria League Division 3 team that will be pushing hard for promotion. The Division 1 team will be fighting hard against relegation.
Opportunities for social chess: Excellent. The club is very well attended on non-league nights. If you’re after something more structured than 5-10 minute games, their club championship works on a ladder system. So you can play as many or little games as you want.
North Tyneside Clubs
Tuesday 7.30pm – just turn up
Marden Residents Association, Bavington Gardens, North Shields NE30 3QD
How to get in touch: Email firstname.lastname@example.org with a subject line (Tynemouth Chess Club)
Opportunities for league chess: Definitely. Tynemouth have four teams covering the entire range of abilities. Their 4th team needs a regular supply of willing beginners. Their first team have now gone a decade without a league title and would welcome another star or two to help them over the top.
Opportunities for social chess: Tynemouth have one of the most active club nights around. They even have a second internal competition designed for players who can’t commit to the formal club championship.
Monday 7pm – just turn up
Empire Club and Institute, 32-34 Salters Road, Newcastle NE3 1DX
How to get in touch: call Geoff Harrison 0191 2661990
Opportunities for league chess: Definitely. Your chances of turning up for the first time and being signed up for a league match, regardless of your ability, are probably higher at Gosforth than anywhere else.
Opportunities for social chess: There’s always a casual opponent to be found on a Monday night. Players from rival clubs have been known to drop in for a quick game.
Friday 7.15pm – contact first
The Royal British Legion, 3 West Jesmond Avenue, Newcastle NE2 3EX
Opportunities for league chess: Can you make a difference* to a mid-table Division 1 team, or are you under 18? Our Division 3 team is supposed to be juniors-only, but is sometimes short of players for away matches if you’re willing to travel. Jesmond have always been a bit famous for their junior setup, which currently includes two England internationals.
Opportunities for social chess: We’re intending to meet once a fortnight rather than once a month this season. Whether that will develop into a proper club night remains to be seen.
Thursday 7pm – contact first (and ideally be a student or faculty member)
Newcastle University Students’ Union, King’s Walk, Newcastle NE1 7RU
How to get in touch: join the Facebook group
Friday 7.15pm – just turn up
Ex-Servicemen’s Institute, Crescent Way North, Newcastle NE12 9AR
How to get in touch: visit the clubs website or call Mike Smith on 07717 718761
Opportunities for league chess. Forest Hall Chess Club has an active membership of over 50 people. These include people aged more than 80 and less than 10, men and women, boys and girls. Anyone who wants to play competitive chess in the league will be given that opportunity. The club has 6 teams, spread through the 3 divisions.
It is a very friendly and welcoming club that tries to cater for all needs. There are always people in who want to play friendly, social games and others who are striving to improve their game. But the groups are not exclusive, everyone is happy to play everyone else.
There is a desire to learn and improve, especially amongst the younger members, so there is an ongoing training programme for anyone who wishes to take part in it. This has been very successful over the years and has helped beginners become proficient league players and some even become county champion.
We meet on Friday nights. The club is open from 5-15pm to 11pm and different members arrive and leave at different times. We will be pleased to meet you!!
South Tyneside & Durham Clubs
Wednesday 7pm – just turn up
Antioch House, Crossgate, Durham DH1 4PR
How to get in touch: visit the clubs website or phone Ken Neat on 0191 3864795
Opportunities for league chess: At present the club has nearly 30 paid-up members and runs four teams in the Durham County League and one in the Northumbria League. There are opportunities for players of all standards.
Opportunities for social chess: Most Wednesdays between October and April there are matches or club championship games, but the club also has use of an additional room for friendly games, analysis and chat. On the occasional free night there is normally a talk or training session arranged. After the club, several members usually adjourn to The Woodman on Claypath for a drink and an entertaining post-mortem.
Douglas Smith runs a thriving junior section on Wednesdays from 5.45-6.45 pm. Ken Neat sends out a weekly newsletter with recent results, forthcoming events, games etc. And Paul Robson of Durham City is the driving force behind the North-East’s participation in the 4NCL, with two teams currently competing.
Thursday 7.15pm – contact first
Carlton Club Low Fell, 11 Belle Vue Bank, Gateshead NE9 6BQ
How to get in touch: email Peter Wells: peter[dot]wells[at]heraeus[dot]com
Opportunities for league chess: Yes. Gateshead are running 5-player teams in two county leagues and have a total membership of about 6. So they could use extra players!
Opportunities for social chess: Email and check – the club has lost quite a few members lately and it’s not clear whether club nights will get going again.
Tuesday 7.15pm – contact first
Leam Lane WMC, Fewster Square, Gateshead NE10 8XQ
How to get in touch: call Alan Young – 0191 4698857
Opportunities for league chess: Leam Lane are extremely welcoming of players with a bit of experience. People from all over the area have been drawn to this unassuming working men’s club by the experience of being part of a Leam Lane team. However, since their two teams tend to be competing at the top end of Divisions 1 and 2 (they recently won four consecutive Division 1 titles) beginners may need to content themselves with an emergency reserve role.
Opportunities for social chess: There never used to be, but I’m getting reports that a few more club nights are being organised this season, so call and check.
Club Nights Thursday 7.00pm – 10.00pm.
League Match Games start at 7.15pm.
The New Ship Inn, 403 Sunderland Road, South Shields NE34 8DG
How to get in touch: email Stan Johnson – stanley[at]stanleyjohnson[dot]wanadoo[dot]co[dot]uk or email@example.com or visit the new clubs website
Opportunities for league chess: South Shields have undergone a bit of a renaissance in recent years and now offer opportunities to play in the Northumberland League and Durham Leagues. They currently run 4 teams with hopes of a 5th Team.
Opportunities for social chess: Yes, the emphasis at the club is inclusiveness and the club runs a number of internal club competition, The Club Championship is an ECF graded tournament, others are ungraded. The club operates in the back room of the pub and on a busy match night it might seem quite full. We welcome new members, sometimes it is better to give us advance notice that you are planning to attend so that we can look out for you. In either case we will give you a warm welcome.