Frequently Asked Questions
We’ve compiled a comprehensive list of common questions and answers about our Chess Club. Browse the section, and if you can’t find what you’re looking for, get in touch and we’ll be happy to help.
What is Maidenhead Chess Club?
A member's club devoted to playing competitive chess in a friendly atmosphere, which is located in Maidenhead.
Where and when does this happen?
The club meets at the function room of St Luke's community hall, Norfolk Road Maidenhead. This happens on a Monday from 19:30 - 22:30 (we close at 22:00 in the summer months).
Is the club open year-round ?
The club meets every Monday except Bank Holidays, except from Christmas - New Year and the month of August.
What are the main activities of Maidenhead Chess Club
During the winter months (well October - April), we mostly focus on league chess - competitive matches of 6 boards against other clubs, and we also have a club championship - competitive matches between club players.
During the summer months (well June - July, regardless of what the weather is like), we run "Summer Events" - such as Lightning Tournaments, How Good is Your Chess, Pairs Chess and the like.
What do you mean by competitive match ?
Of course almost every chess game of whatever level is competitive, but here it is meant to say a game played : With chess clocks - to time-limits adhering to the English Chess Federation guidelines - so 75 minutes for all moves, or 90 minutes all moves or 30 moves every 75 minutes or similar. Abiding by the normal rules of chess, possibly with modifications and additional rules from the league concerned. Results of the match are sent for grading - this is normally done by the League, or by the organiser in the case of the Club Championship.
I am interested in joining the club, how do I do this ?
The best route is to come along to the club one Monday evening. Other than then Bank Holidays, August, Christmas /New Year. There will usually be someone there. Anyone with an interest in chess will be welcomed. After visiting the club casually like (come back for several visits if you wish to be sure), then please approach an officer of the club to talk about joining formally.
I'm an absolute beginner, can I still join?
Why not come along and talk to us? However we are not set up to provide instruction to beginners - so it might be somewhat going in at the deep end. It might be the case that you are naturally very talented at chess and progress from absolute beginner to accomplished club player very quickly through observation and osmosis without any formal tuition or self-study. Being realistic that isn't the case for most people. For junior (school-age) beginners, there is a separate Junior club which offers some basic coaching, and you should contact them separately. For adult players who wish to master the basics of moves, tactics and approach to playing competitively there are many books, computer programs and online resources. Too many to list here - if you come and talk to us, we might (no promises !) be able to give you some more specific pointers. Try lichess.com, there are many, mostly free websites.
I don't have a grade - can I still join?
Of course. Everyone has to start somewhere, and not having a grade now doesn't mean you won't get one. Assuming you are interested in/motivated to play in competitive chess then you can join one of the teams suitable for your playing strength and/or the club championship, with initially an estimated grade.
How much does it cost to join ?
The club makes every effort to keep costs low, but some expenses are unavoidable - the rental charge for the club premises is the single largest one.
Membership fees were £100 for adults (and £50 for juniors) in the most recent season, with a discount for multiple members from one family. Membership runs from Sept - August, and those joining in the middle of the year, fees are pro-rated. We don’t make a charge if you are just coming to the club to see if you like it , so please feel free to visit.
Are there any other costs?
Additionally we expect members to be direct members of the English Chess Federation - in the current year the lowest (Bronze) grade of direct membership is £18 per annum.
Why do you expect club members to join the ECF?
The ECF charges per side per game to grade matches where players are not ECF members ("game fee", also known as the "board tax"). This can work out very expensive, and as the Club is liable we prefer our members to join the ECF. If you are only going to play a very small number of competitive games in a season, you may decline to join the ECF, but in this case we would probably ask you to make a contribution to cover the Club for any game fees chargeable.
How many players do you have, and what range of strength are they?
The current ECF database lists 30 active players with a grade who have played at least 1 game for Maidenhead in the past. Not all are currently members of the club - in recent seasons 25 - 30 is a reasonable estimate for the total active members of the club. In ECF grading terms, the current range (April 2021) is 48 - 240, which is to say near beginner up to near Grandmaster. In the Berkshire League, the playing strengths typically might look like : A-team : 160 - 200+ B-team : 125 - 160 C-team : 75 - 130
What leagues do you play in?
We play in two local leagues - the Berkshire League and the Thames Valley League.
In the Berkshire League we enter an A, B, C team in respectively Division 1, 2, 3. We also enter their Cup/Plate competition. Competition in Berkshire is quite tough - there are a number of larger/more serious teams like Sandhurst, Crowthorne and Reading. However we are usually competitive, without taking it mega-seriously. Hence, while we have not won the Division 1 title in many years, nor have we been relegated from 'the top flight'.
We also have an A team in division 2 of the Thames Valley League and a B team in division 3.