Welcome to Kingston Chess Club

Address: Willoughby Arms, 47 Willoughby Road, Kingston upon Thames, KT2 6LN
Meet: Mondays from 7.30pm
Leagues: Surrey League and Thames Valley League
Social events: Friendlies, blitz, rapidplay, lectures, coaching, simuls

Kingston Chess Club in Kingston upon Thames serves the chess-playing community on the borders between south-west London and Surrey. It has been in existence since 1875, making it one of the longest established clubs in the UK. It is also among the friendliest. It meets every Monday at the Willoughby Arms, a splendidly welcoming and idiosyncratic pub situated at 47 Willoughby Road, Kingston upon Thames KT2 6LN, close to both Kingston and Norbiton railway stations and Kingston’s main bus depot (all a 10-minute walk away). Matches and organised events usually get under way at 7.30pm, though secretary Greg Heath and other club officials are sometimes there a little earlier to welcome members, play some social chess and start preparing the room for whatever activity is planned for that evening. The club meets and plays competitive matches and social chess in a large, quiet room upstairs, but the gardens (which have heated areas where chess can be played) and bars are also well used. Whatever your chess strength, do come along and give it a try.

Recent club successes

The club has been on a successful run in recent times. We won the national team championships known as 4NCL (4 Nations Chess League) when it was online in 2020. In the 2021/22 season, as chess (and the country generally) emerged from the pandemic, we entered five competitions and won all of them. We are most proud to have won the Alexander Cup, the Surrey open team championship, for the first time since 1975/76. Also in the knockout format, we won the Lauder Trophy, the Surrey competition with the teams constrained to a maximum total rating. In the leagues, we dominated Surrey League division 2, winning the Beaumont Cup. We also won division 2 of the Thames Valley League with two matches to spare. We were fortunate to win division 4 of the Surrey League by a margin of half a game point and gain the Centenary Trophy.

The 2022/23 season was even more successful, historic even. The club achieved a unique “Quadruple” – winning the Surrey League for the first time since 1975, the Thames Valley League for the first time since 1984, the Alexander Cup for the second year in a row and the Thames Valley Knockout for the first time since 2012. This incredible Quadruple is not just unique to Kingston. As far as we know, no club has ever managed to win the two first division titles and the two premier knockout trophies in one season. It was a remarkable performance, and left us wondering what we should aim for now. We are at the summit, peering down slightly anxiously.

Visiting the club

We always welcome new players. On some Mondays, if the Kingston team is playing an away match, there may be depleted numbers at the club, but we always try to make sure someone is there to greet newcomers. Come along, say hello, and if you think it’s for you give your details to one of the officials, who will add you to the club What’s App group and mailing lists. We will assess your strength and soon get you playing matches if that is what you want to do. Or if you just want to play social chess and take part in general club activities, that’s fine too. We try to cater for players of all strengths and ambitions, regardless of whether or not you know your Sicilian from your Sokolsky.

Playing for the club

We don’t charge anyone who comes along to visit the club and play a few friendlies. It’s important for us that you feel our club is a good fit for you. But only club members can play for our teams, and as well as signing up as a Kingston Chess Club member (subs are currently £30 a year), you will also need to sign up with the English Chess Federation as all league matches are rated games.

Keeping up to date

As well as detailing the club’s activities on this website – where we post news, games and opinion about current issues in the chess world – you can follow and contact the club via our Twitter account. We look forward to hearing from you, and better still seeing you at the Willoughby Arms on a Monday soon. Your move.