Border league crowns chess champions

Berwick Chess Club president Stuart Robinson.
Berwick Chess Club president Stuart Robinson.

This year’s Border Chess League saw five teams from across the region make their best moves in a bid to win the annual competition.

Players from Kelso, Galashiels, Selkirk, Berwick and NHS Borders competeted in the tournament, with matches mainly played in Kelso’s Royal British Legion, but it was the Berwick team who took the championship trophy back over the border.

Duns man, Stuart Robinson, who is captain, secretary and president of Berwick Chess Club, was delighted to see his team retain the title it also won in 2017.

The 67-year-old, who is also a trustee for Border Pet Rescue in Earlston, and a keen marathon runner, is also focussing on increasing the games’ popularity. For despite attracting the new NHS Borders team this year, the league is still struggling, with Kelso dropping from two teams to one, and each team often struggling to pull together the five players required for league fixtures.

“It can be hard just to find five players every time,” he said. “It has been a long established fact, that chess is, in most parts of the world, underestimated.

“What could put more life into the chess clubs of today would be a chess world championship match. A British player against a Russian. Short versus Kasparaov. Names that people know. When the Kasparov world match was on, it brought it to the fore and we got 10 to 15 people easy.”

Over the years, clubs from Newtown St Boswells, Peebles, Hawick, Duns, Dunbar and Innerleithen have also competed in the league.

Stuart is no stranger to filling the post of team captain, having served on the Livingstone Chess Club in the Edinburgh league for seven years, before moving to the Borders 15 years ago.

“I quite like organising a league match and talking to people. I enjoy it, but I enjoy it better when we win.

“Chess takes a lot of mental energy. I am not that good at it, but personally I want to keep playing it to keep from getting senile. It’s an excellent game to train the brain.”

Berwick Chess Club joined the Borders Chess League in 2005. They’ve since won the league in 2011,2012,2014, 2017 and again this year.

Stuart’s chess team meets each Tuesday night at 7pm in the Plough Inn in Duns.

To find out more about any of the Borders chess clubs you can contact the Scottish Borders Chess League’s competition secretary Alan Armstrong on 01835 340030 or email: alan@iqx.co.uk