Women's Chess in Scotland

An Overview

Edinburgh Ladies' Chess Club

The club - the first Ladies' Chess Club in Scotland - was formed June 24th, 1904 at 4 Hope St by the organisation of the Ladies’ Victorian Chess Club among a group of players who were members of the Victorian Club for Ladies’ at that address. Two years later the Club became independent, moved to 21 Stafford St, and became the Edinburgh Ladies’ CC. (Chess 1943, p36).

In 1920 the club was amalgamated with the Scottish Chess Association and in 1931 the club purchased their own rooms at 1 Torphichen Place. 

Stirling Ladies' Chess Club

A Ladies' Chess Club was formed in 1905. It met in the rooms of the Stirling CC every Thursday. President, Mrs Richardson; hon. secretary, Mr D. Lindsay. (BCM December 1905, p. 477.)

The club disbanded around the time of the First World War.

Glasgow Ladies' Chess Club

The Glasgow Ladies' Chess Club was founded in 1905 by several lady members of the Hillhead CC, led by Mrs Margaret Gibb, who became the first President. The first secretary was Mr J. Buchanan, also the secretary of the Central CC (Glasgow). The club met at the Regent Tea Rooms, 51 West Regent Street, Glasgow, which were also used by the Central CC (BCM February 1906, p. 68).

The November 1906 BCM (p. 453) showed that the club was now meeting at Cameron's Tea Rooms, 122 St. Vincent Street. The club now had as its secretary Miss Ellison Gibb, 10 Granby Terrace, Glasgow, daughter of the club president.

Inverness Ladies' Chess Club

It was reported in the September 1907 issue of The Chess Amateur (p. 354) that a Ladies' Chess Club was to be formed at Inverness, with Miss Malcolm, Lossiemouth, Moray, as Hon. Secretary.

It is not clear if the club was formed successfully at that time, as the August issue of The Chess Amateur 1909 (p. 324) said: 'A very small ladies' club has lately been started at Inverness; Miss Mercer, Woodfield, the Hon. Secretary, is a strong player.'

Miss M.M. Mercer was the Scottish Women's Champion in 1910. She would later be associated with the Edinburgh Ladies' CC.

It is not known how long the Inverness club survived.

Scottish Ladies' Chess Association

Scottish Women's Championship

Girls' Championship Challenge Cup

Cranston Trophy

Robertson Cup

Review of Women's Chess in Scotland by D.M. MacIsaac (CHESS, December 1943, p. 36)

British Ladies' Championship

Miss M.D. Gilchrist 1929 and 1934.

1936 Three Scottish ladies take part. Event won by Mrs Holloway (9/11), followed by Miss A.M. Crum (Edinburgh) and Mrs W. Thomson (Glasgow) 8 and Miss M.D. Gilchrist (Edinburgh) 7½.

Helen Milligan (née Scott) 1983 (joint)

Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant 2003, 2004, 2006 and 2007.

Mrs FF Thomson: In the British Ladies' Championship, she came close to winning on several occasions: 1935 shared 3rd and 4th places with 7½/11; 1936 shared 2nd and 3rd places with Miss A.M. Crum (Edinburgh) 1937 - 2nd, with 8½/11 (winner Miss Dew 10); 1938 - 2nd., 8 points (winner Miss Musgrave with 9½)

Women's World Championship

The first Women's World Championship was held in 1927, alongside the FIDE Olympiad in London. Scotland was represented by Miss Florence Hutchison Stirling (Edinburgh), who scored 4/11.

There were no Scottish representatives in the next two championships at Hamburg 1930 and Prague 1931.

Miss M.D. Gilchrist played in the fourth championship at Folkestone 1933, again held in conjunction with the FIDE Olympiad. The event was won by the dominating Vera Menchik, who won all her games in the eight-player double-round event, scoring 14/14. Miss Price (England) was second with 9, with Miss Gilchrist scoring 8½.

There was no Scottish representation at Warsaw 1935, but two ladies took part in the sixth World Championship at Stockholm 1937, which had 26 competitors, was run as a 14-round Swiss System, and once again was won by Vera Menchik with a full score of 14 points. Miss Gilchrist scored 7½ points to finish in a tie for 8th-9th places; Mrs F.F. Thomson shared 21st and 22nd places with 6.

Women's Olympiads

1st Women's Olympiad - Emmen (Netherlands) 1957

The event was held September 2-21. Scotland was represented by Mrs S.M. Steedman and Mrs R.P. Foggie (teams of two). From their preliminary group they qualified for Final 'B', finishing last of six teams and 14th overall. Twenty-one countries took part.

Mrs Steedman (left) and Mrs Foggie at Emmen 1957. Photo courtesy of Rev Dr Janet Foggie, granddaughter of Mrs Foggie.

2nd Women's Olympiad - Split (Yugoslavia) 1963

The event was held 22 September-10 October. Scotland, represented by Mrs Steedman and Nancy Elder, finished last of 15 teams in a very hard competition.


5th Women's Olympiad - Skopje (Yugoslavia) 1972

There was no Scottish representation in the 1966 and 1969 Olympiads. The 5th Olympiad was held 18 September-13 October, twenty-three countries taking part. The team members were Nancy Elder, Mary McGinn and Miriam Little (Reserve).

Mary McGinn (right) against M. Hausner (Austria)


7th Women's Olympiad - Haifa (Israel) 1976

There was no Scottish representation at the 1974 Olympiad. At Haifa the team was Nancy Elder, Kathleen Hindle, Muriel Leask and Lynne Houston (Reserve). The team captain was Owen Hindle, Kathleen's husband and English international player. The team finished in 21st position.

Haifa 1976
Scotland v Switzerland. From left: Nancy Elder, Kathleen Hindle, Lynne Houston.
Photo courtesy of Kathleen Hindle.


8th Women's Olympiad - Buenos Aires 1978

Thirty-two countries took part in the event, held 25 October-12 November. The team was made up of Lynne Houston, Kathleen Hindle, Nancy Elder and Morag McGhee (Reserve). Once again, Owen Hindle was captain.

Scotland qualified for final group 'C', finishing in 22nd place.


Buenos Aires 1978.
From left: Morag McGhee, Nancy Elder, Owen Hindle, Kathleen Hindle and Lynne Houston.
Photo courtesy of Kathleen Hindle.

Lvov 1967 - 1st International Girls' Tournament

Two Scottish girls competed in this important event; Rosemary McWaters and Kathleen Patterson, both of Bellarmine Secondary School, Glasgow. (Scottish Chess Nr. 23.)

Glasgow Girls' Championship

1964 (first competition) 1st. Kathleen Patterson.

1965 1st. Rosemary McWaters; 2. Kathleen Patterson; 3. H. Dillon.

1966 1st Kathleen Patterson 5/5; 2nd Frances Burniston 4; 3rd Rosemary McWaters 3.


1968 1st= Anne Dempster and Frances Burniston.

1969 1st Mary McGinn (Bellarmine Secondary); 2-3= Barbara Burke & Mary Harrigan (both Garnethill)

Scottish Girls' Championship

1966 Kathleen Patterson (the first ever Scottish Girls' Championship)

British Girls' Championship (U-18)

1966 1st= Rosemary McWaters, Marjorie Moore (with Julie Dobson)

1967 1st Kathleen Patterson

1969 1st= Mary McGinn (with Genine Fielding)

2000 Elaine Rutherford

The Caissians (Robertson Cup Team)

This team was formed in 1967 so as to compete for the Robertson Cup, open to Ladies' teams. It comprised schoolgirls and former pupils of Bellarmine Secondary School and Garnethill Convent Secondary School (both Glasgow). All members of the team were chess pupils of Gerald Bonner. The team won the trophy at their first attempt, defeating Edinburgh Ladies' 4½-2½, and Glasgow Ladies' 4-3. The winning team included Kathleen Patterson (Scottish and Glasgow Girls' Champion), Marjorie Moore and Rosemary McWaters (joint British Girls' Champions), Ruth Donnelly (all of Bellarmine), and Frances Burniston, Philene Hoy and Anne Dempster (all of Garnethill Convent School). Kathleen Patterson, playing on top board, defeated both her opponents, each of whom had been club champion the previous year. (Scottish Chess Nr. 23.) The Caissians won again in 1970.


Alan McGowan

updated 27/10/2020