History of the Norfolk & Norwich Chess Club

Early Norfolk & Norwich Chess Club History (continued)

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A welcome visitor in 1912 was the American grandmaster Frank Marshall. He gave his opponents the option of choosing either colour and many took the opportunity to make the first move.

Capablanca’s appearance in Norwich in October, 1919 generated enormous interest with the local press devoting to it many column inches. At the time Capablanca was regarded as a chess phenomenon and only two years later he was to take the world title from Lasker. At the Y.M.C.A. premises in St.Giles, the Cuban took on 41 opponents. His result was impressive for he was undefeated winning 38 games and drawing three.

In chess history, Lasker, Capablanca and Alekhine are often ranked together as three of the greatest players. It is a pity that Alekhine never visited Norwich. However, a connection with the Russian world champion can be made. The last recorded game Alekhine played was in Lisbon, shortly before his death in 1946. His opponent was the chess problemist G.F.Anderson who had spent a number of years in Norfolk and was the Norfolk & Norwich club champion in 1929.

Amongst Capablanca’s simultaneous opponents was the Rev. F.E.Hamond, the club’s president. Rev. Hamond (1869-1932) ranks as one of the club’s strongest players in the years between the wars. He was British Correspondence champion in 1921 and won a game against Sultan Khan in the 1929 British Championship at Ramsgate.

Following Capablanca’s visit, Kostich came in 1921, and Yates in 1922. Marshall made a popular return in 1927 and Znosko Borovsky visited in 1928. The great woman player Vera Menchik was in Norwich in 1933. Sir George Thomas gave a display in 1935 and G.Koltanowski’s blindfold exhibition in 1937 provided a reminder of the earliest days.

Copyright ©2006 Owen Hindle

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