Bohemian Chess Club (Glasgow)
Formed in 1905, their early meeting place was Flint's
Tea Rooms, 106 West George Street. (These premises were taken over in
1906 and became The Kettledrum.) No official date of the founding of the
club has been discovered; the first mention of the club in the
Falkirk Herald chess column is on 15 November 1905, when it was
announced they would play in the Spens Cup. They received a bye in the
first round but were then eliminated by Falkirk CC.
For the record, the
team members on that occasion - some of whom may have been responsible
for the club's existence - were: R.A. Blackwood
E. Sidwell and
The Falkirk Herald column of 3 October 1906, reporting
on the club being one year old, stated that it had a membership of 60
and it had announced that it expected a successful season, "with
possession of the Spens Cup at the end of it."
The columnist - A.J. Neilson -
wrote: 'Well, blessed are they who expect little, for they won't be
disappointed in certain events.'
The confidence of the club was not misplaced for they
duly won the Spens Cup in season
1906/7. (They also won
By October 1907, the club could report a further
increase in membership, to nearly 100. The club now met at Cameron's
Tea Rooms, 122 St Vincent Street. Soon after, however, they moved to
Waddell's Restaurant at 60 Union Street. They remained here until 1913
when, by the start of the season, they were back at 106 West George
Street, by now renamed the Linby. At the start of the 1914/15 season
the club was at the Eldon Cafe, 94 Renfield Street; this would remain
their home for the next 20 years, during which time their membership
continued to grow - in 1921 they reported having 309 members. (P.B.
Anderson wrote fondly about this particular period in his
The El-Don Cafe, 94 Renfield Street,
Situated on the east side of the street, between
Bath Street and Sauchiehall Lane, this photo was taken in 1936 when
the property was awaiting renovations after the cafe's closure the
Courtesy of Glasgow City Archives
In the Richardson Cup, the premier team competition,
the Bohemian CC never managed to break the almost complete hold of the
Glasgow and Edinburgh clubs in the years leading up to WWII (only
Central CC managed to wrest the trophy from these clubs, in 1914, 1925
and 1939). In discussing the teams in this competition for the 1921-22
season, the Glasgow Herald chess column of 24 September 1921
(p.4), edited by Carrick Wardhaugh,
who had been a member of the club, said:
The Bohemians C.C. do not
take their chess seriously enough to have good prospects. There is no
doubt talent enough, but uncultivated talent does not go far.
The club would have to wait until
1949 to win its only
Richardson Cup with a 4½-2½ victory against Glasgow CC.
The club had several successes in the Glasgow
League competitions. They won the 1st Division title six times, in
seasons 1930-31, 1931-32, 1933-34, 1936-37, 1946-47 and 1949-50, and
they were 2nd Division winners on five occasions, in seasons 1926-27,
1929-30, 1930-31, 1933-34 and 1935-36.
The Championship Trophy and the Pawn
For season 1908/9 the club introduced an
impressive championship trophy, the first winner of which was Robert
Angus Blackwood. In 1927, after it was won by William Ewart Brown, the
club was faced with a serious problem.
A special committee meeting was called for
Friday, 15 September 1927 to discuss an interesting development.
McIntosh, the proprietor of the Eldon Cafe, 94 Renfield Street,
Glasgow, the club's rooms, had been advised by Detective Fraser,
presumably of Glasgow Police, that the club's championship trophy had
A meeting was held 21 September, at which the
club president, James Borthwick, said he had contacted Detective Fraser
about W.E. Brown pawning the cup. Mr Borthwick was advised that the
Fiscal [Procurator Fiscal-Scottish prosecuting authority] refused to
prosecute as there was no case against Mr Brown. The club secretary
(Andrew Towers) was instructed to write Mr Brown at 4 Yarrow Gardens,
North Kelvinside demanding the return of the cup within seven days,
otherwise proceedings would be aken against him. Club members Mr J.
Andrews and Mr A. Calderhead agreed to call on Brown's uncle and put
the case before him.
At a committee meeting on 4 October 1927 the secretary
intimated that he had not received any reply from W.E. Brown. Other
club members reported that the pawnbroker was willing to return the
cup on payment of two pounds and ten shillings. After a discussion the
secretary was instructed to write to Mr W.E. Brown intimating that if
he failed to return the cup before the 29th inst. he rendered himself
liable to criminal proceedings.
No further reference to the trophy is made in the
emigrated to Australia and in 1935 in Perth, Western Australa he formed a new club there
which he called the
In May 2011 the trophy was offered for sale on ebay by
a metals company in London. They hoped a buyer could be found or the
item would be melted down.
In viewing the image it could be seen that W.E. Brown
was the last engraved name (I thought I had retained a photo of the
trophy but I cannot find it).
Time to Move
At the start of season 1934/5 the club was
still at the Eldon Cafe. However, by the first half of 1935 they were
obliged to move as Mr McIntosh retired and the premises were going to
be used by a new business. They found accommodation at the GHQ Tea
Rooms at 136 St Vincent Street and remained there until the outbreak
of WWII in September 1939 obliged the club to consider another move.
Blackout conditions and transport issues would have caused
difficulties for evening play. Also, the club's committee were not
entirely happy with the GHQ, and by May 1940 they had moved to the
King's Cinema Cafe at Charing Cross. However, the club soon suspended
activities for the war years, regrouping in September 1945 in
preparation for the upcoming season. Initially they were in the Trades
House Restaurant, but within a few months they had moved to the YMCA,
While the club still had some successes ahead - twice
winning the Glasgow League 1st Division title and Richardson Cup
winner in 1949 - things were slowly changing. Bohemian CC played their
last league match in 1954 and declined to submit a team for the
1954-55 season. The club played its last Richardson Cup match in
December 1957, losing to Bon Accord CC in the second round. It did
enter a team for the 1958-59 Richardson Cup but, along with other
clubs, withdrew from the event when the Scottish Chess Association
refused to change its rule, introduced in January 1958, that
individuals must be members of the SCA to participate in a competition
organised by the national body.
In the Scottish Chess Association Bulletin,
Nr. 2, winter 1960-61, P.B. Anderson commented:
Now, alas, the Bohemians are in a state of Quiescence and are
in danger of extinction.
Some of the Members
Considering the name of the club, it is not surprising
that the membership covered a wide selection of personalities and
nationalities. Some members were also associated with other Glasgow
Anderson Scottish champion 1950 and 1954.
J. Andrews - club champion 1928 and 1930.
Rev Father Charles Annacker of the Jesuit Presbytery,
Garnethill. Died suddenly November 1920, age 52.
Birse, who later joined the Edinburgh CC.
Robert Angus Blackwood (1861-1922) first winner of the club's
championship trophy in season 1908-09.
Scottish champion 1903, club champion 1911.
Hugh Brown, who died 8 February 1930, age 60.
Arthur Ford Cariss c. 1886-1967. Also a Polytechnic CC
John Connor, died 8 January 1920, age 76. Former
headmaster of Garelochhead School. A great supporter of Scottish
chess, he played in numerous SCA congresses. Won the 1901 Minor
Championship of Glasgow CC, of which he was also a member.
James Crabb, admitted as a member 12 September 1921.
Myer N. Davis - club champion 1938
Harris club champion 1913-15, 1917, 1918, 1920-26. West of
Scotland champion 1916.
Gerald R. Hill was admitted as a member 13 October
1920. In September 1931 Mr Hill, a publisher with a printing business
at 35 Dundas Street, Glasgow intimated his intention to publish the
'Scottish Chess Magazine.' A few months later, however, owing to Mr
Hill's illness, a delay in producing the magazine was announced.
Nothing came of the venture, unfortunately.
Krasser, often shown as F. Krasser.
brother of Andrew Bonar Law
Macdonald Scottish champion six times.
Andrew Armour Marshall 1905-2003. Defeated
Alekhine in 1923 simultaneous
display in Glasgow.
A. Maung Maung, a visitor from Burma. In January 1921,
shortly before Maung's return to Burma, the club arranged a special
evening at the Eldon Cafe at which Bailie Shaw Maxwell presented him
with a gold albert and pendant.
James Shaw Maxwell 1855-1929, often referred to as
Bailie Shaw Maxwell because of his position on Glasgow City Council.
Served as club president. one of the founders of the Independent
played football for Scotland.
Alfred John Pattenhausen, a former club secretary.
Henry M. Paulet c. 1880-1932. Of independent means,
connections with Jersey, Channel Islands. Admitted as a member 16
December 1920 (Minute Book). Also a member of Glasgow CC.
J.T. Potts club champion 1916.
J. Sachs club champion 1919.
brothers - Jeannot and Benno - from Estonia.
Archibald Stevenson, who later emigrated to Canada.
Andrew Towers 1872-1957. A long time member, and
Robert Weetch 1889-1948
James Young club champion 1910
Isaac Zeital from Russia, c. 1882-1936
Historian, Chess Scotland