Scottish Chess Association


The inaugural meeting was held in Sheriff Spens's chambers in Wilson Street, Glasgow, on the afternoon of Saturday, 2 February 1884. About 40 people attended, including representatives from Glasgow, Edinburgh, Bute, Dunbartonshire and Perthshire, but conditions were so crowded that the meeting had to be moved to a larger apartment.

Those that attended were:─

Mitchell (Millport); Pirrie; Sheriff Spens; John S. Pagan (Crieff); Heggie; Forsyth; Phillips (Helensburgh); R.A. Boyd; F. Pollock; Duguid; Harvey;
W.F. Murray; J.H. Dunlop; Livingstone; Hunt; Maclean; Mavor; Dickson; Berwick; Russell; Latta, Fraser and Pringle (all from Edinburgh);
Wm. McCombie; Dr Macfie; Fyfe; Tait; Beckett; W.C. Cotton; Crum; Kinghorn; Samuel Pitt; M'Call; Friedlander; Court, and Kirk. There was one other gentleman, but Sheriff Spens could not recall his name. (Glasgow Weekly Herald, 9 February 1884.)

The idea of establishing an association had been expressed in the columns of the Glasgow Weekly Herald since August 1883, and such was the interest shown that by the time the inaugural meeting was held, advance interest indicated that almost 150 people intended to become members. Detailed reports and names can be seen here.

Sheriff Spens presided and after his motion that the association be established was carried unanimously, the meeting approved the constitution and rules. The objects of the Association included:

  • the cultivation and dissemination of the game of chess throughout Scotland
  • to hold an Annual Congress
  • assisting in the formation of clubs and encouraging inter-club matches
  • arranging for visits of chess players of eminence
  • organize prize tournaments for problem composition and correspondence chess

The winner of the championship would receive a silver cup, not to exceed £30 in value, which, however, had to be won three years in succession by one person to become his property.

There then followed the election of office-bearers for the first year.

Archibald Orr Ewing, M.P.

Sir Windham C. Anstruther, Bart.
Rev. J. Donaldson, M.A. ('Delta'), Kirkconnel

Rev. John Donaldson

Sheriff W.C. Spens, Glasgow

G.B. Fraser, Dundee

G.B. Fraser


Dr J. Clerk Rattray, Christopher Meikle and John Fraser, B.A., Edinburgh
John Crum, John Court and John D. Chambers, Glasgow
W.W. Mitchell, Millport
Arthur Russell, Cupar
C.R. Baxter, Dundee
John S. Pagan, Crieff

David Forsyth, Writer, was elected as secretary and treasurer.

David Forsyth


Neither Archibald Orr Ewing (1819-1893) nor Sir Windham C. Anstruther (1825-1898) were known as chess players but added distinction to the newly formed association. And, soon after, HRH Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany, added further lustre as shown in a letter received by Sheriff Spens.

Claremont, Esher, February 10, 1884

Dear Sir,

I am desired by the Duke of Albany to intimate you you that he has great pleasure in testifying to his interest in chess, and to his appreciation of your efforts to spread the knowledge of the game among all classes by becoming patron of the Scottish Chess Association. He will also qualify as a life member.

Faithfully yours,
R.H. Collins

HRH Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany

The Duke of Albany, however, suffered from poor health and died in March 1884.

Glasgow Herald, 4 February 1884, p. 8 and 13 February 1884, p. 6.
Scotland's Chess Centenary Book, pp. 11-13.
Cleveland Public Library Spoecial Collections (G.G. Fraser)
The Chess Bouquet: Or, The Book of the British Composers of Chess Problems, by F.R. Gittins, 1897 (David Forsyth). (photo of A.O. Ewing)


Alan McGowan

Updated - 24/02/2023