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Scottish Championships
As someone who has a deep interest in history and who has researched the birth and growth of Glasgow and it’s people I am truly excited about the prospect of taking part in the Scottish Championships at a venue that has played such an important part in the life of the City.

For centuries tradesmen have been the sturdy backbone of Glasgow and to have a trade was the aspiration of the majority of the working class youth. My own father, was encouraged by my mother before they married to get a trade and had he not heeded her “advice” then life may have turned out very differently or not at all for me and my siblings. He became a butcher to trade and as such could take his place at the Trades House with the Fleshers.

Many of my ancestors were skilled tradesmen and plied their trade in the industrial capital of Scotland, as well as further afield. Among them were a whole line of father’s and son’s who were blacksmiths or hammermen and others who were shipwrights, tailors, weavers and maltmen.

When researching my family tree I found that the location of many of my ancestor’s old haunts and houses, has disappeared from the map of Glasgow and it is the same with much of the Glasgow works of the architectural genius Robert Adam.

“Like any improving town, the city was acquiring new Institutions, and cities as ambitious as Glasgow sought out the best. In 1792, Robert Adam (1728-1792) and James Adam (1732-1794) designed a new Infirmary beside the Cathedral, and in 1791-1794 relocated the Trades' Hall from the upper town down to Glassford Street in the first new town where it faced axially up Garth Street. Their particularly imposing Atheneum/Assembly Rooms in the newly-opened Ingram Street was completed in 1796. James also designed a magnificent Corn Market in 1793, axially facing east to the Old College along Shuttle Street, of which only the two corner pavilion buildings of Shuttle Street were built as Professors' Lodgings (the Hunterian Museum was founded in the southern one). Robert also designed a factory on Ingram Street and an abortive block on George Square while James designed a plain church behind the steeple to replace the 16th century Tron Kirk, destroyed by fire; and, perhaps most extraordinary, a private residential square just west of the High Street in 1793. Stirling's Square comprised flats and commercial premises, of which Babbity Bowster's hotel and café bar in Blackfriars Street is a lone survivor. However, the dispersal of the Adam schemes throughout the city had the result that their designs for Glasgow never achieved the visual impact that they had had in Edinburgh.” – The Glasgow Story <!-- m --><a class="postlink" href=""></a><!-- m -->

Like many of his 18th Century contempories Adam undertook the Grand Tour, a traditional trip to continental Europe where the traveller took the opportunity to view works of art and experienced the cultural legacy of classical antiquity and the renaissance period. Adam spent some time in Rome studying classical architecture and his exposure to classical Italian building is strikingly evident in the Palladian style of the Trades Hall, with it’s Venetian windows and unfluted Ionic columns.

Although I spent my formative years living in Glasgow, nowadays, on my sadly infrequent visits to the heart of the City, I can be easily identified as someone who does not presently reside there, as I spend too much time looking up at the marvellous constructions that thankfully haven’t been torn down and still grace the metropolis and not enough time looking in front of me and watching where I’m going.

To take part in a chess tournament within the walls of one of these historically important and beautifully crafted buildings is an opportunity not to be missed. As a venue for playing chess, I have complete faith in Alex McFarlane, as one of the most experienced arbiters and tournament organisers, that it will be first class.

Additionally, the history and location of the building, combined with the history of the game of chess and the possibility of one of the strongest tournaments in Scotland for some time presents a fantastic opportunity to promote not just the event itself but the benefits of chess as a whole.

Can we commandeer the nearby George Square during the event with chess players and boards, in a similar way to our chess playing friends do in the parks and boulevards of Moscow and New York? Can 32 adults or children be persuaded to dress up as chess pieces to take part in a giant game in Glasgow’s main square? Can we entice the local cafes, restaurants, bars and shops of the Merchant City and the Italian centre to promote and support our event by joining in Glasgow’s chess week?

The possible benefits of holding the Championships at the Trades Hall vastly outweigh the two very small negatives, which can easily be overcome. For the majority, no free parking close by should not present a problem. With its central location the venue is very accessible by rail, bus and subway.

For those like me that prefer to drive, Sunday’s Buchanan Galleries is a good parking option, currently you can park there all day on a Sunday for only £3. From Monday to Saturday Shields Road Park and Ride is open from 6.30am until after 11pm and currently costs £5, which includes your parking and a return subway ticket. Dundasvale Car Park near Cowcaddens subway is an alternative at 80p per hour plus £2.40 for a return subway ticket.

The other small negative may be accommodation prices for those who are too far away to commute and I guess this is always going to be an issue no matter where the tournament is held. I would recommend keeping an eye on the Travelodge and Premier Inn websites for special deals and looking at places outside the centre and travelling in. Earlier this year I played in the littler events at the British Championships in Sheffield. I managed to book a Travelodge for the full fortnight at £9 a night. Okay, it was a half hour journey to the playing venue every morning and I had to get up at 5.30am one morning, a few months before the tournament, to book online but it was worth it.

I looked forward to playing at Sheffiled and I’m already looking forward to participating in the 2012 Scottish Championships in Glasgow, at what I think will be a fantastic venue. Holidays from work have already been booked.
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