Glasgow Chess Club
From the unpublished History of the Glasgow Chess Club:
On the death of Hon President Mr D.E. Outram in 1893 the minds of the committee were turned towards the possibility of getting together a History of the Club
from recollections of old members, and in the following year Mr Wm Tait (President),
Mr Robert Pirrie and
Sheriff Spens were appointed a committee to enquire into the possibility of getting up such a history. So far as is known, nothing further was done and it was left to
Mr Thomas McGrouther, Librarian and Secretary, to collect from old Glasgow directories all references to the Club to be found there. These, with lists of office bearers 1862 to 1869, lists of members and other interesting matter are to be found in a bound volume in the Club Library.
As a game in Scotland, Chess did not find any general favour until the nineteenth century was well on the way. The Edinburgh club, generally acknowledged to be the oldest in Scotland, was founded on 4th November 1822 and the Glasgow Chess Club was founded soon after; but just how soon after is at the present time (1940) not known.
By a disastrous fire which broke out in the premises of Mr A.K. Murray in 1856 all records of the Club and a priceless Minute Book were destroyed; but patient investigation and enquiry may yet reveal the exact date of the Club's foundation.
Up to 1908 it had been generally accepted that 1840 was the date of constitution, but the following notice gifted to the club by Mr Robert Pirrie, Hon President 1895-1913, indicates that the club was actually in existence before 1827, there being funds from which tea and coffee were to be provided.
The Notice reads:
"Glasgow, 7th. Nov. 1827"
"The Chess Club will meet in the Royal Hotel Georges Square
"on Monday first the 12th. curt., at 7 o'clock Evening and on
"every following Monday during the season.
"Such of the members as wish it may have Tea or Coffee
"till Eight o'clock from the funds of the Club.
"Jno. Ross, Secretary."
and was addressed to -
"A. Glasgow, Esq.,
"Messrs. Frew & Glasgow
"North Albion Court."
Mr Glasgow, for several years proprietor of Auchenreith, Lanarkshire and afterwards of Old Court, County Cork, was Mr Pirrie's uncle.
The 'A. Glasgow' referred to is likely Alexander
Glasgow, born 1 November 1792, Glasgow, died 19 October 1873, Cork,
Ireland. Probate of his will refers to
Robert Pirrie as one of his Executors.
In regard to the then club secretary, John Ross,
The Glasgow Directory 1827-29 records two people of that name: a
grocer with his business at 227 Argyll [sic] Street; a merchant
whose business address was 131 Ingram Street and whose home was at 5 West
The loss of
documents and a Minute Book in the disastrous 1856 fire means that
virtually nothing is known about the early members of Glasgow CC.
(However, see the 1865 match report below.)
An exception is that of Andrew Gairdner, and we
only know of him because of the kindness and consideration of someone who
had no connection to the club, Dr A. Stanley Nance of the Royal Navy.
Around October 1914, while on shore leave in
Aberdeen, Dr Nance picked up an item in a market stall. It was an
electro-plated medallion with the inscription:-
Presented by the Glasgow Chess Club to their
Secretary, Andrew Gairdner, Esq., 1842.
The Falkirk Herald chess column of 21
October 1914 suggested that the date was likely that of Mr Gairdner's
retirement from office.
Dr Nance wrote to the club, offering to send on the
medal and this was gratefully accepted. I would be interesting to know
what happened to that piece of memorabilia.
Andrew Gairdner (1792-1856), a merchant and
commission agent, was born in the Inveresk/Musselburgh area. He died at 36
Dalhousie Street, Garnethill, Glasgow on 30 May 1856.
Particularly interesting comments about the history
of the club were made in the chess column of the Falkirk Herald of
7 June 1922, p.4. The editor, A.J. Neilson, a member of Glasgow CC,
commented about its age after reading through some old journals and said:
'So far back as the year
we find reports of the Glasgow Chess Club carrying on an active, but
somewhat precarious existence: and it is referred to at odd times,
particularly during the '20s' of the last century. In 1810, and
later, the club was struggling with financial difficulties, and was never
out of trouble in regard to a habitation, continually changing its abode.'
Mr Neilson did not indicate which journals he was referring to.
Even if further information about the 1810 reference was found, it
appears that the Edinburgh Chess Club would still be the second oldest
continuously existing club in the world after Zurich
It appears that there were several breaks in the continuity of the
club. Note the following references from Bell's Life in London and
1835, 2 August: We should be
glad to be informed as to whether there is a Chess Club in the Queen
of the West─Glasgow, and, if so, where and when they meet.
1837, 3 September: There is
now no Chess Club in Glasgow. An English player, Mr Nixon, Music
Professor, has lately settled there, whose skill in chess is very
great, and if the Glasgow players have spirit to form a chess
institution, let them seek him out and rally round him.
1840, 19 April: The Glasgow
chess club meet at the Star Hotel.
1840, 10 May: The
Glasgow Chess Club now meet in the Assembly Rooms, instead of the Star
However, confusion may have been caused by
later announcements the same year:-
1840, 6 September: We do not
[know] of any Chess Club in Glasgow.
1840, 20 September: There is a
chess club at Glasgow which meets at the Assembly Rooms, Ingram
Street. There is also a chess club at the Star Hotel.
And the following references are of particular importance:-
Post Office Glasgow Directory for 1863-64, (pub. 1863).
GLASGOW CHESS CLUB. Instituted 1862. This club,
the second of the name, was formed in the above year by members of the previous club and others, for the purpose of keeping up and extending an interest in the game of chess in Glasgow. Meets in the Scottish Exhibition Rooms, Bath Street, on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, from 7 to 11 p.m.
J. R. Richardson, president; W. W. Mitchell, vice-president; J. W. Paterson, George Heggie, jun., A. L. Lang, M. Provan, B. Eckhout, R. M'Whirter, directors; R. S. Moffat, 133 West George Street, secretary; R. Fowler, British Linen Bank, treasurer.
Glasgow Daily Herald, Tuesday, 28 February
'Last night a friendly match at chess between members of the
Old and New Clubs came off in the Bedford Hotel. These clubs have
for some time been merged into one, under the name of the Glasgow
Chess Club, and have since prospered with the increased strength
which union confers. It was expected that Sheriff Bell would have
been able last night to act as judge, but in consequence of the
illness of a near relative, he was prevented from being present.
The match was commenced at six o'clock, and continued till ten
P.M. In the course of the evening there were about 50 players
engaged, this number including those who took part in the game,
and others who merely played amongst themselves. Messrs. J.R.
Richardson, George Heggie, jun., M. Provan, I.W. Paterson, and B.
Eekhout, played some very fine games during the evening. The
playing, as a whole, was considered to be exceedingly
satisfactory. As will be seen from the subjoined statement, the
New Club gained the victory by no fewer than eight games.'
The unpublished history of the Glasgow CC
states that the match was supposed to be 22-a-side, with each pair to
play three games if time permitted. A second report of the match, in
the Glasgow Morning Journal of Tuesday, 28 February
1865, provided further information, saying:-
'Among these were Messrs. J.R. Richardson,
president, Geo. Heggie, jun., champion, M. Provan, I.W. Paterson, and
B. Eekhout, who, owing to the absence from indisposition of the
gentlemen who were to oppose them, played some fine games
Others who were mentioned as being present were:- Dr. Hilliard,
R.F. Easton, W.F. Murray, J.P. Paton, Dr Morton, Dr Connal, Stewart
SOME 19th CENTURY CLUB MEMBERS
Henry [Sheriff] Glassford Bell ■ Alexander
G. McCombe ■ George Hodge
Reports on club meetings in March 1851
Dr William Weir ■ Archibald Alison, Sheriff
of Lanarkshire ■ Alexander Hastie, M.P.
James Stirling ■ F.W.
Vanderkiste, Collector of Customs
James Smith, Jordanhill ■
John Ewing, Kelvingrove ■ Duncan Smith
L. Hamel ■ J.R.
Richardson ■ Robert Bryson ■ William Bankier ■ Mr James,
Postmaster Alexander Forbes, M.D. ■ Andrew Gairdner ■ D.J. Penny
Charles Campbell, Greenhead ■ Robert Thomson ■ George Shillito, of
Ralph Sillars ■ Willliam Ambrose ■ John Duncan ■ J.B.
Knott ■ William W. Mitchell
William Crawford ■ George
Macfarlane ■ Mr Mathieson ■ Mr Renison, Writer
Mr Young, Writer
■ Mr Neilson, Writer ■ Mr Craig, Wine Merchant
The club's annual meeting in October
David Melville ■ Archibald K. Murray ■
Archibald Orr Ewing ■ Duncan Smith
D.E. Outram ■ Thomas Herne ■
J.R. Duguid ■ Angus Macarthur
J.D. Campbell ■ B. Eekhout ■
William Campbell ■ W.F. Murray
In 1879 the club published RULES AND
ALPHABETICAL LIST OF THE MEMBERS
OF THE GLASGOW CHESS CLUB. The
office-bearers and members were:-
Jenkin ■ Robert Pirrie
George Macfarlane (left) and
||James Horne, London
||Archd. K. Murray, London
||W.W. Mitchell, Millport
||David E. Barclay, Greenock
||Gavin Chapman, A.M.
Champion for 1879
W.W. Mitchell, Millport
Archd. K. Murray, London
Some of them provided business addresses in Glasgow city centre.
||3 Canning Street
||141 West Graham Street
||11 Wood Lane
||68 Bath Street
|Gavin Chapman, A.M.
||North Wallace Street
||13 Royal Exchange Place
||29 St Vincent Place
||Eaton Villa, Crosshill
|John R. Duguid
||175 West George Street
|B. Eekhout [Eckhout]
||88 St Vincent Street
||103 Sauchiehall Street
||Clincart Cottage, Rutherglen
||Rosebank Cottage, Helensburgh
||68 St Vincent Street
|Geo. Macfarlane, C.A.
||179 West George Street
||23 Ashton Terrace, Hillhead
||28 Airlie Terrace, Pollokshields
||Albert Terrace, Airdrie
||32 Buccleuch Street
|William F. Murray
||Caledonian Pottery, Rutherglen
||207 West George Street
||23 Blytheswood Square
||8 Princes Square
||42 Hill Street
||42 Rosebank Terrace
||89 John Street
||180 West George Street
||54 West Regent Street
Historian/Archivist, Chess Scotland