Glasgow Schools' Chess

Early efforts to encourage young people to take up chess were made by schools and the women of Edinburgh and Glasgow Ladies' Chess Clubs.

Shawlands Academy, Glasgow, featured in some reports; in 1924 the school chess club was presented with a trophy by ex-Bailie McNab , to be competed for annually by the members. The first winner was H.M. Hamilton.

And in season 1924-25 the school was nominated for ─ and won ─ the British Chess Federation School Shield, the aim of which was to further encourage the practice and study of chess among boys and girls.

In January 1927 the Edinburgh Ladies' Chess Club organised a Girls Tournament (which was held annually until 1938).

Members of Glasgow Ladies' CC followed suit soon after, hosting a match for boys of fifteen, the first of its kind in Scotland, in April 1927. The inspiration likely came from Mrs Brockett, who taught at Mossvale and lived at Cambuslang, close to Rutherglen.

Mossvale School, Paisley Evangelistic Inst., Rutherglen
Archie McPhee 0 1 Bertie Wilson
John Dick 1 0 Samuel McNicol
John Kerr 0 1 David Clark
William Morrison James Kelly
Robert Wilkie 1 0 John Wilson
Andrew Hanton 1 0 John Hamilton
Ernest Roberts 0 1 Bruce Wallace
  3 3  

Mrs Brockett was also involved in a later match between her school's pupils and those of Shawlands Academy, Glasgow. Her Glasgow Ladies' CC colleague, Mrs F.F. Thomson, was the mother of the first board player for Shawlands. The match was played in the rooms of the Glasgow Ladies' CC at the Athenaeum, 26 January 1931.

Mossvale School, Paisley     Shawlands Academy
Thomas McGhee 0 1 Aird Thomson
Alexander Currie 0 1 Sam Gilmour
Alexander Adam 1 0 Robert Thomson
Bert? McAusland 1 0 John Duffus
Thomas McCheyne 0 1 George Duffus
Andrew Goudie 1 0 Doris Sinclair
Jack Devlin 1 0 William Summers
William Walker 1 0 Norman Fraser
James Campbell 1 0 Stanley Morton
Robert Andrews 0 1 Isobel Murdoch
  6 4  

A return match towards the end of 1931 was won by Shawlands, the hosts, 5─4.

Five of Mrs Brockett's Mossvale pupils played in the 1932 Scottish Boys' Championship: W. Donald; K. Malcolm; R. McCheyne; T. McCheyne and J. Orr. The tournament was won by Aird Thomson of Shawlands, who also won in 1933 (shared), as well as being the losing finalist in 1934.

Shawlands Academy also provided a three-time winner of the Scottish Boys' in Gerald Piercy (1937─1939).

Glasgow Schools' League ─ The Early Years

It appears than an attempt to form a Glasgow Schools' League was made in 1945, according to D.M. MacIsaac's chess column in the 24 August 1945 edition of the Glasgow Herald (p. 2).

'Local schools prepared to join the Glasgow Schools’ League for teams of seven, first round in November, should contact Mr James W. Hunter, Queen’s Park School, the secretary. Entries have already been received from Allan Glen’s, Hillhead High, Hyndland, Pollokshields, Queen’s Park and Shawlands.'

However, organisational matters must have delayed things for all later reports refer to the first competition being held in season 1947/48. The Glasgow Herald chess column of 19 September, 1947 (p. 2) commented:

'The following will compete in the Glasgow Schools' League: Allan Glen's, Eastbank, High School, Hillhead High, Hyndland, King's Park, Pollokshields and Queen's Park. The secretary is Mr Hunter, Queen's Park School, Grange Road.'

The following information was obtained mainly from Glasgow Herald (GH) reports.

Hillhead High School
Hillhead High win the Glasgow Schools' League, now completed. Final scores:- Hillhead, 13 points, 31 games; High, 12 and 31; Queen's Park, 9 and 27½; Eastbank, 8 and 22½; King's Park, 6 and 26; Allan Glen's, 5 and 23; Hyndland, 3 and 22; Shawlands, 0 and 12½.
GH, 14 May 1948, p. 6.
Allan Glen's - High School - Queen's Park (shared)
Hyndland Secondary
Hyndland Secondary

There was a stern struggle in the Glasgow Schools’ League this year.
    Hyndland topped Division B, with King’s Park second. Glasgow Academy won Division A with a four-point lead over St Mungo’s and Allan Glen’s. In the final, the first match was tied 3½-3½ but, led by Fergus Nicholson, Hyndland won the replay by 4 games to the Academy’s 3 to become League Champions.
October 1951, p1
Mention of Fergus Nicholson can be found in relation to the Glorney Cup 1951. Also here, or here, with further information about his politics.

New clubs for next year's league will include Eastwood, Hutchesons' Boys' Grammar School and St Aloysius.
GH, 29 June 1951, p. 7.

Holyrood Secondary
St Mungo's Academy
The final for the Glasgow Schools' league shield will be played on Monday evening at 7.15 in the Glasgow CC rooms, 189 Pitt Street, between Whitehill, winners of 'A' section, and St Mungo's, winners of 'B' section.'
GH, 1 May 1953, p. 9.
The championship shield of the Glasgow Schools' League was won by St Mungo's with a 4-3 win against Whitehill in the deciding match between the two section leaders.
The previous winners were: 1948 Allan Glen's; 1949 High School; 1950 Queen's Park; 1951 Hyndland; 1952 Holyrood.
[Printer's error? - AMcG]
GH, 8 May 1953, p. 4
St Mungo's Academy
St Mungo’s: The Glasgow Schools’ League Championship Shield has been retained by St Mungo’s with a 6-2 [sic 5-2] win against Kelvinside Academy in the deciding match.
GH, 11 June 1954, p.9.
St Mungo's Academy
The deciding match for the Glasgow Schools' League championship shield between Kelvinside Academy and St Mungo's finished 1½-1½ with four games for adjudication.'
GH, 17 June 1955, p. 14.
The deciding match for the Glasgow Schools' League championship shield has been won 4½-2½ by St Mungo's against Kelvinside Academy. The winners of the shield to date have been:- Hillhead, 1948; Allen Glen's, High, and Queen's Park (triple tie), 1949; Hyndland, 1950, 1951; Holyrood, 1952; St Mungo's, 1953, 1954, 1955.
GH, 1 July 1955, p. 4.
St Mungo's Academy
The St Mungo club of present and former pupils of St Mungo's school, playing in the league [Glasgow League] for the first time, have won the second division and will probably be offered promotion next year to the first division.
GH, 16 March 1956, p. 12.
St Mungo's Academy
St Mungo's Academy
The final section scores in the seven-a-side first division of the Glasgow Schools’ League are:-
Section A:- Kelvinside Academy 13 match points (36½ game points), High School 10 (32), Hillhead 8 (30), Woodside 7 (21), Hyndland 6 (22), Academy 5 (20), Eastbank 4 (16½), Allan Glen’s 3 (20).
Section B:- St Mungo’s 14 (38½), Shawlands 10 (31½), Eastwood 10 (27), St. Aloysius 7 (24½), Holyrood 6 (23½), King’s Park 5 (20½), Hutchesons’ 4 (17½), Queen’s Park 0 (10). A deciding match for the championship will be played between Kelvinside Academy and St Mungo’s Academy.
GH, 6 June 1958, p. 3.

The championship of the Glasgow Senior Secondary Schools Chess League was won last night by St Mungo's Academy for the sixth year in succession.
In the deciding match, which was played in the rooms of the Glasgow club, between the winners of the two first division sections St Mungo's, led by the Scottish boys' champion, G. Bonner, had a decisive 6-1 win against Kelvinside Academy, led by the Glasgow boys' champion, D.R. Thomson. Details (St Mungo's players first):-
G. Bonner 1, D.R. Thomson 0; T. Daly ½, J.G. Thomson ½; P. Boyce 1, G. Skinner 0; J. Murphy 1, S. Younger 0; W. Hart ½, M. Ogston ½; J. Cunningham 1, P. Edwards 0; F. Kinghorn, M.A. Porteous, 0. St Mungo's players had the move on boards 1, 3, 5 and 7.
GH, 13 June 1958, p. 4.
St Mungo's - Kelvinside Academy (shared)
Kelvinside Academy won all seven matches to take first place in Division 1A with 14 points.
GH, 19 June 1959, p. 11.
St Mungo's also won all their matches (14 points) to capture first place in Division 1B.
GH, 26 June 1959, p. 6.
A match between the division winners was held.
Gordon Skinner (d. 2013), a member of the Kelvinside team commented in an email of 09.10.2010:
We had excellent players, namely Derek Thompson, Kenneth McAlpine, Murray Ogston and, at a notably lower level, yours truly. St. Mungo’s, of course, had Gerald Bonner as their first board, who was a beautifully precise player... (we) played a good player, famous for drawing games, namely Murray Porteous, at second board (he normally played 5th board). And indeed Murray obtained the draw which allowed the lesser mortals to win games further down the pecking order. Happy days.
His email suggested that Mr Skinner felt Kelvinside had won but ...
Gerald Bonner
(email 02.02.14)
On board 1, I defeated Derek Thomson who had Black and in the space for remarks I wrote the following (and I quote) :- Giuoco Piano, Canal Variation. "This game was played at board 1 of the match to decide the winners of the league shield. The match resulted in a draw 3½ - 3½. St Mungo's have now won it outright 6 times in succession and shared it this time with Kelvinside."
Eastwood won Division 1; Allan Glen's won Division 2
Last season Eastwood won the first division and Allan Glen's the second.
Scottish Chess Association Bulletin Nr 3, Spring 1961

See Club and School Chess Publications for samples of a magazine issued by Allan Glen's School, as well as one produced in a joint venture between King's Park Secondary and Rutherglen Academy.

Alan McGowan
Archivist/historian for Chess Scotland 

Updated 24/2/2023