FOUNDING OF THE CLUB (1886)
The club was founded in December 1886 when the following notice appeared in the Wrexham Advertiser on Saturday December 4 1886
“ A Chess Club: Lovers of the game of chess will be glad to know that a chess club has been formed at the Lion House, High Street. Mr. E Lloyd Jones has kindly agreed to act as secretary. The next meeting will be held on Wednesday, and intending members are requested to send their names to the secretary, or to attend the meeting, which is fixed for eight o’clock.”
The “Lion” was at 57 High Street and this hotel appears
to have been favoured by the local Liberals. This may explain why, shortly after the formation of the Wrexham Club, the Conservatives started a rival chess club in the town (April 1887). Wrexham Chess Club’s first match was against the Conservative Chess Club, Wrexham winning 10-6.
In 1888 the Conservative Chess Club merged with the Wrexham Chess Club – and as a result the Rowland family began its long association with Wrexham Chess Club. Nevertheless, the early days were clearly difficult and the death of the then Secretary, Langshaw Rowland, in 1891 almost brought about the demise of the club. However, the club gathered strength again and was active throughout the 1890’s and, indeed, up to the present day.
CAPABLANCA’S VISIT (1919)
Capablanca, who was World Champion 1921-27, came here to give a Simultaneous Display against members of Wrexham Chess Club and other local players at the Wynnstay Arms Hotel in the High Street. The North Wales Guardian of Friday October 31 1919 reported:
“The enterprise of the Wrexham Chess Club in inducing Senor Capablanca to visit the town was rewarded on Monday night by a successful exhibition. Thirty players from Wrexham, Ruabon, Overton, Rhos, Caergwle etc. took part, and quite a crowd of chess enthusiasts assembled in the Wynnstay Hotel Billiard Room and watched play from beginning to end. Mr. R. W. Egerton, captain of the Wrexham Chess Club, was the prime mover in the effort to obtain the champion’s presence. His Worship the Mayor, (Councillor L. B. Rowland) introduced him and Senor Capablanca having replied, the play started. The champion moved quickly from board to board with a nonchalant yet keen air and many players were soon in difficulty and resigned. In two hours and a quarter the games were over and without a win or a draw for the home team….”.
After annihilating the local players, Capablanca was entertained by the Yorke family at Erddig - his visit is mentioned in the diary of Mrs. Louisa Yorke for Monday 27 October 1919.
THE INTERNATIONAL TOURNAMENTS (1994-98)
In 1994 Grandmaster Nigel Davies, who is one of Britain’s leading players, was living in Wrexham. In associaton with Nigel and with the Wrexham Borough Council, the Club organised an International Tournament at Redwither Tower in Wrexham. The commercial sponsors were Owens Corning, who had a factory in the area. Following the success of the first event, the tournament was soon established as one of the four premier annual events of British chess – the others being the traditional Hastings Tournament (first played in 1895), the British Championship and the Isle of Man Open.
The Wrexham tournaments were traditional ten player all-play-all events. They were Category 7 tournaments on the international scale – intended for grandmasters, masters and others seeking these titles. An innovative feature was the first use in Britain at the international level of digital clocks with the “Fischer” incremental time control.
Over the five years the tournament was held players from Germany, Sweden, Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, India, New Zealand, Netherlands, Denmark, Russia, USA, Iceland, England and Wales took part. The most eminent players to participate were David Bronstein, who drew a match for the World Championship in 1951 and Mark Taimanov, who famously lost to Bobby Fischer.
The tournament winners (from the UK unless stated otherwise) were:-
1994 1st N.Davies 7½ 2nd L.Karlsson (Sweden) 7
1995 1st J.Howell 6½ 2nd I.Csom (Hungary) & M. Pein 5½
1996 1st C.Ward 6½ 2nd N.Davies 6
1997 1st A.Kinsman 7 2nd M.Taimanov (Russia) 6½
1998 1st & 2nd = T.Thorhallsson (Iceland) & S.Brynell (Sweden) 6½