‘Knight Club’: Bermondsey’s free chess club inspired by Queen’s Gambit

The chess club is apparently very diverse, with women making up about half of the people who attend.

One of London’s biggest running groups has set up a chess club in Bermondsey after one of its members was inspired by the Netflix show The Queen’s Gambit.

Ben Stone, part of London City Runners, whose head office is in a railway arch in Druid Street, said he had long been looking for a chess club in London but “never had one found one who is young enough and fun enough”.

He pitched the idea to Tim Navin-Jones, the founder of the London City Runners, in the summer of 2021 and the new chess club – the ‘Knight Club’ – was born. The chess club meets “religiously” between 1 and 3 p.m. on Sundays – and every two weeks there is a tournament.

Tournaments usually feature around 30 or 40 people, with competitors of all skill levels playing in a knockout system. It’s free, but custom dictates that whoever loses pays the winner a drink.

Those eliminated tend to play other games like Monopoly and Connect4, before reuniting to watch the final. The endgame is played on a chessboard made by a local plumber from bathroom tiles.

Although the tournaments are competitive, organizers say the atmosphere is very welcoming and players give each other advice and lend each other books on chess strategy. The club is apparently also very diverse.

Tim said: “It’s incredibly multicultural. You might think chess wouldn’t be, but it really is.

Women apparently make up about half of the people who attend, but “the people who tend to win are guys,” Tim added. “I’ve seen a woman win before – again.”

“We’re always encouraging more women to come down,” added Ben.

To enter, meet at London City Runners at 130 Druid St, London SE1 2HH on Sunday at 1pm.

Comments are closed.