by Jim Will

A history of the chess club, published in the 75th League anniversary issue of the Bristol Chesstimes in 1982.

In January of 1974, a lightning tournament for teams and individuals from Gloucestershire was held at what were then Hanham & Kingswood's premises. Colin Pillinger, who was taking down the entries, noted with good-natured incredulity the presence of four University players, who insisted on being known collectively as 'Grendel's Mother'. This was the first public symptom of a decision which had been reached some time before in the downstairs bar of the Quadrant public house in Clifton. Though the details of that evening are lost (to me) in the mists of time and circumstance, there is no doubt as to what happened - the start of a new club in Bristol whose purpose was to accommodate some University players who had finished their academic courses, intended to remain in Bristol, wished to continue playing in the same team, but realised that they could not indefinitely occupy places in the University teams.

When the idea was first put to the LMC for the 1976-7 season, it was met with a certain reserve, partly because of the understandable feeling that the name 'Grendel's Mother' looked too much like an academic joke to be evidence of serious intentions. The committee eventually accepted the club (though not the name) and 'University B' appeared in the fixture books with headquarters at 48, Alma Vale Road, Clifton. The problem of the name had to be solved fairly quickly as the new team won the first division championship; finally, 'Grendel' proved generally acceptable.

Grendel's good start was followed by two more championships in 1977-8 and 1978-9, and the win of the League K.O. in 1978. The University connection was maintained, though not rigidly.

In 1979 a mini-division was added to the six divisions to cater for the locally rising number of interested beginners, and Grendel entered a B team. Grendel B has been successful as anyone could have expected, and last year it won the 6th Division championship so emphatically that it was promoted to the 4th, where it is holding its own this season.

Earlier this year, in anticipation of a move to new premises, Grendel formed a C team to play in the 7th division. Although the new premises have not yet taken material form, the C team is definitely in business, having played its home fixtures so far at Horfield's premises in Redland.

Since not long after its inception, Grendel has had conspicuous representatives on the League Management Committee, notably Chris Carter (a most effective Secretary); he has had the able support of Richard Johnson (Assistant/Adjudications Secretary). Sue Caldwell was President of the League for a year; she and Roy Gregory (now back with Totterdown) have given valuable service to the committee.

1997 postscript: Since 1982, Grendel has continued to thrive despite a short spell outside the first division. Another League Championship was won in 1994-5, and the club now fields a total of five teams. The new premises referred to above turned out to be Chris Carter's front room for several years. In the nineties, the club moved to the Full Moon at Stokes Croft, then the Forester's Arms on Gloucester Road, before settling in the Bristol County Sports and Social Club earlier this year. - JR