Until recently, Abbots Bromley has not had a chess club. The village has been through a very sad time due to the heart-breaking closure of the local school affecting the entire community. I used to work there, and there are other former staff and students involved with the team. Andy McCafferty is founder of the chess club. His wife Tracy Richards is part of the parents group attempting to re-open Abbots Bromley School.

The chess club has helped the village fill the void left by the school’s closure. We currently have 30 members and has an active WhatsApp group which has proved a very effective means of social communication. The chat often features the senior players coaching the less experienced players through post-match analysis and friendlies. We play our competitive matches online in the World 20/20 Chess League on Chess.com - 2021- 2022 World 2020 Chess Championships | ScorchChess (scorchapp.co.uk) and have been featured on Chess TV Streaming through Chess Heroes.

Our most notable result was our win against ‘Asociacion Mexicana de Ajedrez-AMA’, one of the largest clubs on Chess.com with 7000 members, which was wildly celebrated on the village’s Facebook page. Over the summer we met for our, and the village's, first ever 'over the board' meeting which was a lovely occasion and people who had talked and played together online for over a year were finally able to meet in person.

Following on from this 'one-off' meeting, we decided to launch a regular over the board club and with that in mind we planned, with extensive help from FM Jonathan Blackburn, a 'ChessFest' to mimic the successful events that had taken place in London and Liverpool. We held this event in July 2021. It attracted nearly fifty people attending across the afternoon and evening with people travelling from Lichfield, Stoke- On-Trent and beyond. It started with casual games for the adults and a masterclass teaching session from Jonathan for the juniors which went down extremely well, using sets kindly provided by Chess in Schools.

After that it was time for the first 'Hybrid Chess Match' against Dundee City. We even had arbiter Matthew Carr dropping in to make sure everything was above board before he went on to help run the British Championships, and myself to ensure that there were no technological issues and that everyone logged in! It was a bruising encounter against a very strong and well-organized team; our thanks to their club and captain David Findlay. Although our team went down 19-3 it was great to get people playing online, as well as a club record turnout for a match. After a well-deserved drink break (thanks to the Coach & Horses for hosting us in their beautiful garden and for looking after us!) it was time for the 14 board simul starring Welsh Champion FM Jonathan Blackburn.

Everyone put up a really tough fight and Jonathan had to work hard for every win bar one, where new member Luke Sullivan claimed a draw and with that a medal and Chess & Bridge subscription as a prize! As the sun was setting it was time to wrap up on a very successful day. However, the chess sun is only just rising at Abbots Bromley and will surely continue to burn brightly; since then we have met up at the Birmingham rapidplay, been nominated for ‘ECF Small Chess Club of the Year’, hosted a blitz tournament in the Bagot Arms and will send a team to the upcoming 20/20 over the board tournament in Birmingham in February. We hope that these events can be modelled by clubs across the country and beyond.