Jewish Chess Club, Glasgow

The Glasgow Herald chess column of June 5, 1926 (p4) reported that a Jewish Chess Club had recently been formed in the city. Mr D. Lewis was the hon. secretary.

The newspaper's chess column of Saturday, October 9, 1926 referred to the newly formed club, which already had 60 members, indicating that it would open for play the following day at 10 Bridge Street. The Scottish Champion, James McKee was scheduled to give a simultaneous exhibition. 

Immediate success
The club's members quickly showed their ability by winning the Spens Cup at their very first attempt. They defeated Perth 5-1 in the final at Perth 22 March 1927, thereby gaining promotion to the Richardson Cup the following season. The team members were:- J.K. Harris, Dr J. Fine, A. Levy, A.J. Levine, C. Hochfield, A. Klibanski and H.P. Goldman.

The club's first Annual General Meeting took place on 19 May 1927. The championship cup was won by A. Felber, and S. Elkin won the minor championship. The office-bearers elected were:-

President: A. Levy, LLB
Vie-President: M. Davis
Secretary: J.K. Harris
Treasurer: C. Speculand
and a committee of seven.

The club's second season 1927-28 opened with a 24-board simultaneous display by David Joseph, a strong player from Manchester. He won 23, losing to J.K. Harris.

The club then proceeded to confirm their strength by winning the 1st Division of the Glasgow League and reaching the final of the Richardson Cup. It would have been a sensation if they had won the premier team competition at their first attempt, but even with the returning David Joseph on top board, they were unable to succeed against the experienced Edinbugh CC. 

Later, the club withdrew from team events because of the necessity of playing on Saturdays.

New premises
The Glasgow Jewish Institute in South Portland Street was officially opened on Sunday, 23 June 1935 by Isaac Wolfson. Extensive renovations had been carried out on the building, formerly the MacNicol Memorial Church, that adjoined the synagogue. The premises consisted of recreation halls, a ballroom and billiard room, together with a library and a lounge.

Likely because of these facilities, the Jewish Chess Club was revived and they took part in the Glasgow League and Spens Cup in season 1935-36.

The season opened with a simultaneous display by W.A. Fairhurst on 7 November. Against 22 opponents, he score 20 wins, one draw and one loss (to Mr J.I. Levine).

The club reached the final of the Spens Cup in 1938, losing to Stockbridge. However they won the competition in season 1938-39 by defeating Gourock 6-1.

On the morning of Friday, 21 July 1939 fire broke out at the institute. The caretaker, Adam Cunningham, along with his wife and sister-in-law, managed to get to the roof where they were spotted and rescued. There was extensive damage to the institute, but the fire service managed to confine the dame to these premises. The Scotsman, reporting on 22 July 1939 (p11), stated: "Among the articles saved from the blaze were some 20 silver trophies."

However, the Spens Cup trophy disappeared, and the aftermath is explained in an article here.

Glasgow League Success
In season 1952-53 the Jewish Institute CC won the 1st Division of the Glasgow League. Some of the team members were:

Dr M. Rose; R. Spencer; S. Levart; E. Knopfler; L. Delkin; J. Goldin; M. Borkovsky and A. Klibanski.

Other events
Max Pavey, who came to Scotland to study medicine in 1938, played for the Jewish Institute CC in the Spens Cup during his short stay.

The club hosted simultaneous displays by Alekhine, Keres, Koltanowski and Wade.

Falkirk Herald chess columns: 25 May 1927, p6; 13 November 1935, p11.


Alan McGowan
Archivist/Historian, Chess Scotland  

added 5/6/2020