Club History - part 1

Founding and early days

The Edinburgh Chess Club was established in 1822. It started with 31 members, a figure that had risen to 50 within 2 years, and the following years they were discussing the purchase of a house to serve as permanent clubrooms. In fact they had to wait another 97 years before that wish would come true.

Entry in the cashbook, 1822

The first entry in the cashbook

Early cash book entries mention the purchase of candles and payment to the sedan chairmen for the transport of chess pieces. Rent for their premises was £2 and 2 shillings. In those days chess was largely a game for gentlemen, and there are many representatives of the professions and the military amongst the early membership lists. Entry fees were £3 3s and subscriptions £1 1s.

Chess had become a popular pass-time with the gentry and there were clubs and coffee houses springing up in most large European cities. However there was no international organisation and no recognised world champion, the first international tournament did not take place until 1851 and indeed it would be 64 years before national organisation in the form of the Scottish Chess Association arrived on the scene in 1884.

The best players had for some years been French, following the teachings of Philidor, but there was a growing strength in England and there was an attempt to have a match between London and Paris which came to nought.

Against this background the Edinburgh club, when only 2 years old, audaciously launched their challenge to the established London Chess Club.

History part 2 - the Edinburgh v London Match