University of Bristol

by Chris Carter

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

The University first entered the League, with two teams, in 1951. The 'A' team promptly won the second division and followed this up by winning the first division championship for the next five years. Although the University has only won the Championship twice since (one of those a tie), it gradually expanded until 1975-76 when there were seven University teams in the League, including three in the first division, and the National Club side reached the semi-finals of that competition.

Although always being strong on the top boards, the club has recently suffered a slight contraction, due to the inherent transience of students; however, the club now acts as hosts for the League Congress, the Blindfold Tournament, the Hanover Exchange and the League's A.G.M., as well as providing the League with its Tournament Organiser and a regular supply of players who graduate to other clubs on settling in Bristol.

1997 postscript: The University continues to have strong players: in recent years IMs Michael Hennigan and Simon Ansell, and this year Charles Cobb. But the fortunes of the club fluctuate; when Hennigan arrived, the A team had sunk to the third division and he helped take them to the first. In 1993, Hennigan won the British Championship - the same year as Short played Kasparov in London for the world title. That Autumn, the University had 135 members and were fielding eight teams! Last season, the A team was relegated to Division Two and - although they look like bouncing straight back - this year they are down to just two teams. - JR