by H Lloyd

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

The Phoenix Chess Club is part of the sports and social club of Phoenix Assurance Co. Ltd. (which celebrates its bi-centenary this year). Although we joined the Bristol and District Chess League in 1974, our origins are somewhat older. The club was formed by staff in Head Office in London, and members were instrumental in the foundation of the Insurance Chess Club in 1893. This consisted of teams from the insurance companies and brokers in and around the City of London. Apart from a brief spell in the third division, Phoenix fielded a team in the first or second divisions of the Insurance Chess League. On two occasions we won the Atlas Shield by coming top of the second division, but our most successful season was 1968/69 when we won the Bowring-King knock-out competition, as well as finishing runners-up in the first division.

For many years, there was an inter-departmental competition which was generally dominated by the Life Department. When the company decided to relocate this and several other departments from London in 1973, a Bristol section was formed and a team entered in the League. Success was limited to gaining promotion to Division Three in 1979 but it is hoped to improve on our present position in Division 6.

Two former Phoenix players deserve special mention. Firstly, Rodney Benjamin met Viktor Korchnoi in a 25-board simultaneous display in 1972, and was the only player to beat the (then) Russian Grandmaster.

Secondly, Sir Frederick Hoare served as Lord Mayor of London in 1961/62 and as President of the British Chess Federation from 1964 to 1967.

1997 postscript: Phoenix Chess Club ceased to exist in 1984 or 1985. - JR