Mr R M Gorton and Mr Canon Sweeting established the Perth Chess Club in 1891. The other strongest players in the club were Mr E Nesbit, Mr W Siebenhaar, Mr Farrington and Mr Fordyce. The Albany Chess Club was also formed that year with Mr W T Kinsella as their top player.
The West Australian published the first tournament held at the Perth Chess Club in Winter known as the Handicap Tournament. Mr W Siebenhaar had come 3rd in the 1881 Dutch Championship, so not suprisingly won the event with Mr Nesbit 2nd. The West Australian’s publicity helped attract chess players. In 1892 Mr Ernest William Hack moved to WA, settled in Fremantle and founded the Fremantle Chess Club. The club soon benefitted with the arrival of Mr E Pedersen and Mr F A Grosvenor. Around this time Mr Hack and Mr Siebenhaar formed the West Australian Chess Association which included 6 clubs. (Albany, Bunbury, Coolgardie, Fremantle, Perth and Pinjarrah).
In 1893 the first Inter-Club match was won by Perth against Fremantle. In 1895 Mr Hack moved to Coolgardie where he joined Mr E L Kirby. Mr Kirby had been active in the 1870’s at the City of London Chess Club and was instrumental in forming the Chess Association of Kent.
The annual Handicap Tournament at the Perth Club commenced on 22 May 1895 with 21 entries.
Siebenhaar won the event with Domela in 2nd place and Robertson 3rd.
The Winter Handicap Tournament commenced on 11 June 1895 at Fremantle Chess Club, 13 players participated with Mr Middleton winning the event.
The Summer Tournament began at the club later that year with 15 players participating. Mr Berling, a recent arrival from South Australia, finished 1st.
In 1895 the title ‘Chess Champion of Western Australia’ was introduced, and commenced on 18 November 1895 with 10 participants. The event was held in Y.M.C.A. building in Perth.
The Championship was held over 10 days (2 games per day) with Mr E N Hill winning the event with 12.5/16 followed by Mr W Siebenhaar in 2nd place with 12.
Various tournaments were held in 1896 at the Perth Chess Club including a sectional handicap tournament in February in 3 sections of six players each.
In 1896 chess was flourishing in Perth and Fremantle, but the smaller towns were harder to establish. The Pinjarrah Chess Club was formed by Mr James and Mrs Allen who also established the first ‘Ladies Chess Club’ in Perth.
The 6 Chess Clubs in 1895 in Western Australia
Albany Chess Club
Secretary: W.T. Kinsella
Bunbury Chess Club
Secretary: E. D. Marshall
Coolgardie Chess Club
President: M. Finnerty, R. M. (Warden) Details: Dingo Villas, Tuesdays, 21 members
Fremantle Chess Club
President: Captain Russell Vice Presidents: Dr Hope, H. Smith, R. Sharpe Address: Fremantle Fire Brigade Details: Tuesdays and Fridays 7.30pm 32 members
Perth Chess Club
President: Rev Dean F Goldsmith Vice Presidents: Canon Sweeting, Byass, Siebenhaar Secretary/Treasurer: F. Domela Address: Trinity Parlour, Hay Street, Perth Details: Wednesdays, 40 members
Pinjarra Chess Club
President: Canon Allen Vice President: Mrs Allen Secretary/Treasurer: Miss Alderson Details: meet players houses, Thursdays, 9 members
Information provided by‘The Australian Chess Annual’ by W. Siebenhaar. This document was kindly made available by Ray Johnstone for the Senior Chess Clubs newsletter June 2007.
Perth Chess Club: more recent history
(based on an article in Senior Chess Clubs newsletter March 2007)
Vern Stannard informs us that Perth Chess Club organised all competitive chess in WA (including the Australian Championships when it was WA’s turn) prior to the forming of CAWA. Vern was Secretary/Treasurer of the club from 1948 for 10 years.
In the early 1990’s Perth Chess Club met on Wednesdays at Rod Evans Senior Citizens Centre (corner of Hay Street and Plain Street) with Gordon Dunlop organising most events. In 1995 the club moved to the Tower Room in the Kings Perth Hotel, Hay Street with Norbert Muller the main organiser. As well as hosting Perth Chess Club, this venue was used for a range of other chess activities: weekend tournaments, state championships, junior coaching, womens and girls telechess (Dorothy Dibley Shield), CAWA meetings. In 2000, just as the CAWA lease for the room was about to expire a small fire occured and thus the venue was no longer available. There had been pro’s and con’s with the venue, with the cost of leasing the room and parking expenses quite considerable.
The Perth Chess Club has since found a new home at North Woodvale Primary School (corner of Trappers Drive & Chichester Drive), Woodvale. Again the club meets on Wednesday evenings (from about 7.15pm) with the Kingsley Junior Club meeting on Tuesday evenings at the school. John Brooke has been instrumental to the success of both clubs, including being treasurer and keyholder for Perth Chess Club.
In the 2010’s, under the Presidency of Fred Maris, Perth Chess Club has modernized it’s time controls: instead of fixed time controls for all tournaments, now incremental time controls are used in most tournaments. At the same time the club has increased the number of rated tournaments per year from three to five, instead of just one rating division tournament there are now three. This has enabled players to enjoy plenty of closely matched games. In 2015 the clubs webmaster Stephen Jones (former Metro Club Champion back in 1964 & 1965), started the club’s library to provide members with the opportunity to learn and study chess.