Hackney Chess Club crowned league champions for first time in 17 years

Players at Hackney Chess Club, which has won club of the year from the English Chess Federation, at

Players at Hackney Chess Club, which has won club of the year from the English Chess Federation, at the Rochester Castle Pub in Stoke Newington High Street (Picture: Dieter Perry) - Credit: Archant

Hackney Chess Club have been crowned league champions for the first time in 17 years.

The team, which plays its home games at the Clarence Tavern in Stoke Newington Church Street, secured their first Middlesex Champions League title since 2002 by crushing Athenaeum by 6.5 to 1.5 in an away game.

Captain Paul Conway suggested he'd been optimistic coming into the season - the club had finished second over the last two seasons, and he felt it was only a matter of time until they won.

Nevertheless, he couldn't help but feel during the tournament that "It's not over until it's over" and club had a wobble towards the end of the season, losing to Athenaeum, although they ended up winning with an 11-1 season scoreline.

"Without wanting to be melodramatic, it's one of the good things I've done in my life", said an emotional Paul.

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Hackney Chess Club was crowned the best in England in 2016 by the English Chess Federation.

Paul stressed the importance of chess as a healthy outlet: "We all work hard these days. But if you're sat behind a chessboard, looking at those 54 squares, it can take your mind off thoughts about work "

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Hackney chess club started 48 years ago in a bedroom belonging to the son of a pub landlord, and was originally played on boards balanced on beer barrels.

The club now boasts a diverse range of members, with the club playing its part in the UK drive to get women into chess, and has also welcomed many Turkish and Kurdish players through their doors,

The club will be running coaching sessions for promising juniors from September, and offers heavily discounted membership for the unemployed.

Anyone interested in playing should get In touch with the club at secretary@hackneychess.org.uk.

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