St John’s Cathedral Chess Club was established in 1992. It was formed for the playing of informal chess and related social activities and has continued until this day. The current home of the Chess Club is in the Coachmakers Arms, St Stephens Road, Norwich. The Club meets every Thursday evening, barring high days and holidays, and activities start at approximately 7:30pm. The standard of chess improved substantially over the years from formation and in 1997 the Club, whist still continuing social chess and internal competitions, decided to enter a team into the Norfolk League, playing in Division 3 and entering County Cup competitions.
In their very first season 1997/98, St John’s Cathedral Chess Club won 14 out of 18 matches and became Champions of Division 3. The Club were also Runners up in a County competition, the Williamson Plate. Success continued and in the following season the Club came 2nd out of 10 teams in Division 2. The Club secured the Williamson Plate that year also.
Big time had arrived! In the 1999/2000 year the Club entered 2 teams, St John’s Crusaders in Division 1 and St John’s Templars in Division 3. Both teams fared well and the Club also got to the Semi Finals in the Norfolk Rapidplay Handicap Cup. In the succeeding year mid table success continued for the 2 teams and Jack Richardson was awarded the title of Life-Long president of the Club. In the next few years, due to slightly reduced membership, St John’s Cathedral Chess Club only entered one team into the Norfolk League until the 2006/7 season. On several occasions over the years, members of the Club have represented the County of Norfolk in the All England Championships. Booming membership and increased chess playing ability returned the Club to resounding success in the 2007/8 year. St John’s entered 2 teams in the Norfolk League again, reached the semi finals of the Williamson Cup and were Champions in the Rapidplay Handicap Cup. The Club went from strength to strength and we entered 3 teams in the Norfolk league for the first time during the 2008/9 season.
Disaster then struck and St John’s Cathedral Chess Club was rendered homeless, owing to the construction of the Narthex at the Cathedral. The Club spent 6 months from January to July 2009 in the back room of the Reindeer public house on Dereham Road until the Landlord and Landlady decided to cease running the establishment. Our nomadic life continued for the next 8 months in the upstairs room of The Garden House, off Park Lane, despite poor lighting and freezing temperatures. One particularly beneficial piece of news in 2009 was that we were awarded £370 from the National Lottery Fund towards the purchase of 10 electronic digital chess clocks to replace our ageing analogue ones.
At the Club’s AGM in July 2009 the Committee members of the Club were named as: Chairman: Jack Richardson; Secretary: Dick Cozens; Treasurer: Gerry Clayton; Team Captains: Crumpton Clarke, Richard Downing and Alan Holmes; Internal Competitions Organiser: Ken Ellis.
In 2010 we had the pleasure of moving into the Bar of the brand new Narthex at St John’s Cathedral. We were then forced to leave a year later and found a new home at The Kier Hardie Hall. They closed down two year later and as luck would have it we found yet another home at The Coachmaker's Arms where we still reside and are to be found every Thursday night. We now have around 28 players of all strengths.