compiled by L.R. McKenzie
Cathcart Chess Club’s history spans 5 decades… scroll the time line, then browse the periods
Cathcart Chess Club was started by a small group of chess enthusiasts, who decided to meet in the Cathcart Congregational Church, Holmlea Road, in 1953 to play competitive chess. This new club entered a team in the 3rd Division of the Glasgow Chess League in the 1954-55 season and in the following season were the winners of Division 3 title by winning 12 matches and drawing one. Three years later the Cathcart club went on to win the 2nd Division title and thus gained a place in the top division of the Glasgow Chess League.
Season 1962-63, nine years after it was formed, the club moved to new premises at 20 Craig Road – the Unionist Rooms. By this time there were 3 Cathcart teams playing in the Glasgow Chess League and that season Cathcart won the Spens Cup, at it’s first attempt in this tournament, and so gained the right to play in the top team event in Scotland the following season – the Richardson Cup.
Politics played havoc with the organisation of the club during season 1964-65 when Cathcart Unionists decided they needed exclusive use of their premises until after the general election so there was a delay to the start of the season. In 1968 Cathcart became the Glasgow League Champions for the very first time. In 1969 the club reached the semi-final of the Richardson Cup for the second time where we were beaten by the strong Glasgow team. Cathcart’s second team were unfortunately relegated in the Glasgow League, which meant that for the first time since 1963 Cathcart only had one team in the top division. The annual subscription at that time for an adult was £2 with the junior subscription being 50 pence and attendance on most evenings being over 60.
In 1970 Cathcart were Glasgow League Champions for the second time in three years. The Cathcart and Giffnock Clubs decided to join forces to organise an all-play-all Invitation Tournament that was held in January. The main purpose of the tournament was to assist top ranking players in their preparation for international events. Over the next five years there were individual successes for many of the club’s members and the club also won the Richardson Cup twice during this period, 1970 and 1974. The second team gained promotion to the top division but the problems of maintaining two teams in the 1st division was too much and relegation followed the next season. A Dinner Dance was held in 1974 at the Newlands Hotel to celebrate the 21st anniversary of the club.
1975 and the club moved once more to new premises, this time it was the Kingspark Halls in Kingsbridge Drive which were much bigger than the Unionist Rooms. Unfortunately the rent was also much higher, £6 per night, which meant that annual subscriptions had to be increased to £4.
The club continued to prosper but in 1978 disaster struck – the club’s first team were relegated from the first division of the Glasgow League. This was largely due to the fact that the club’s usual two top boards weren’t available for matches due to business commitments. Fortunately the 2nd team had again gained promotion to the top division so Cathcart continued to have a team in the 1st division and in 1979 were, for the third time, the Glasgow League Champions. Also in 1979 the club was again on the move, this time to the Couper Institute in Clarkston Road. However this didn’t prove to be a success due mainly to the meeting night being a Friday night and so after one year the club moved once again this time to the Langside Halls in Langside Avenue.
In 1983 the club celebrated its 30th anniversary by organising the Challenge of Champions, club member and Scottish Champion Roddy McKay versus the British Champion Tony Miles, Britain’s first International Grandmaster. This event took place in the Grosvenor Hotel in Glasgow. The previous time a Scottish Champion had faced a Grandmaster in a challenge match had been 50 years earlier in 1933.
In season 1984/85 the 2nd team, playing in the 3rd division, achieved the distinction of maximum points with 11 wins from 11 games. Cathcart also won through to the final of the Richardson Cup, the 6th time in ten years. The 1st team also took part in the British Open Club Championship winning their Sectional Final but then losing out to the strong Kingshead Club from London.
After 6 years at the Langside Halls the club made another change of venue, this time to the Clarkston Rugby Club in Braidholm Road. This also gave the club an opportunity to host an open event and so the Cathcart Open came into being. One long serving member of the club had something to celebrate in 1986 when he obtained his IM title; it was Roddy McKay.
1980s… and the 21st century
From 1989 to 1996 Cathcart were no less than 5 times the Renfrewshire League Champions.
1997 and Cathcart were again seeking new premises and this they found at Merrylea Parish Church in Merrylee Road almost back to where they started. In the year 2000 Cathcart club was, once again, Glasgow League Champions.
2003, and Cathcart claimed the League Championship title for the 5th time. In addition the 2nd team gained promotion to the 1st division and the Cathcart juniors were the winners of the Glasgow Junior League. What better way to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the club? A Dinner was held in the Redhurst Hotel to celebrate the club’s 50 years and both past and present members enjoyed remembering past glories and looking forward to future achievements.