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Dunoon chess congress
Posted on behalf of Paul MacDonald....

When I look at the map of where Scottish chess clubs are situated I am sometimes underwhelmed by the lack of established clubs outside of the central belt. North of Oban is a chess desert, as is the whole area North of Inverness on the other coast. Argyll and Bute has no prescence other than Oban. The difficulty in establishing clubs in these areas is that much of the impetus tends to hang on one individual. Take the example of Lewis a few years back, where a tournament even attracted a GM match between Short and Agdestein. A fledgling club collapsed when the main organiser left to take up a job in England and not much happened on the island in a chess sense, until Colin McNab gave a simul there this summer. In my own experience, I had a small club going at Sleat in Skye in 2003-04, where we once had 16 people turn up to play. Once again the impetus wasn't maintained once I left to take a job back on the mainland.

As someone who spent a lot of his childhood in a remote West Highland community I realise how difficult it is for local communities to kickstart activities and when a community council approaches me for help in getting a chess-related event going then I'll do my best to help them and hopefully help chess in Scotland.

My work with a Gaelic-language organisation has put me in touch with the local community council in Dunoon, a few of whose members have made me aware of the existence of a chess club in its infancy. Currently boasting 10 members (4 of whom are juniors...all absolute beginners.) they meet in a private house once a week, mainly for off the cuff matches and an informal 'club championship'.

They have however become aware of the success of the annual Congress in Oban, which although well over an hour away is seen as a local town, To cut a long story short, I've been asked to help make a chess congress in Dunoon happen. The venue would almost certainly be the Burgh Hall, a 10 minute walk from the Pier and right in the midst of the shops, pubs, restaurants and hotels, The Burgh Hall is a lovely, striking Victorian building with a huge hall probably easily capable of hosting 25-30 boards. Because local contacts are well in the loop with the Hall administrators and the town are keen to have this venue used more often I'm certain that we would get a fantastic deal on a weekend hire.

Opinions please?



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