Walsall Kipping Chess Club can trace its history back to its inception in 1942. This page aims to give a brief but interesting review of the club's history.

In 1942 a local newspaper carried these reports:

'Walsall's New Chess Club.- The new chess club, members of which will meet in the evenings for play and social intercourse, already promises to be very successful. The organiser, Mr. A.E. Parsons, of England and sons, The Bridge (where meetings will be held for the time being) is acting as secretary pro tem, and he has secured as the first president Mr. C.S. Kipping, Headmaster of the Wednesbury High School for Boys, well known as an expert and for the innovation of chess in the curriculum of his school. Mr Kipping has given valued assistance by the initial provision of boards and pieces. Members will meet on Monday evenings at 6.30 and the club will rely, in the first place, on voluntary subscriptions.' [5.9.42]

'Walsall Chess Club.-Members of the recently formed Chess Club in Walsall had their first meeting on Monday 7 Sept 1942. They decided to call the club "The Kipping Chess Club," after their president, Mr.C.S.Kipping. Mr. F.D.Fox was appointed chairman, Mr. Gordon Farrell treasurer, and Mr.A.E. Parsons honorary secretary. Mrs. Wright and Miss Powell provided refreshments and were warmly thanked for their contribution to the success of the launching of the club. Mr. H. Lee was subsequently appointed vice-president after occupying the chair for the evening.' [12.9.42]

The newly formed club' met regularly at first at Mr. Parsons' shoe shop on Monday evenings, but soon it moved to Pattison's Tea Rooms and later to the Walsall Picture House. Branch meetings also began to be held in Wednesbury, at the High School, and at Wolverhampton, in the Municipal Secondary School, Newhampton Rd. Exciting events were soon taking place, including a 50-a-side match at the High School, and more importantly a visit by no less a person than Vera Menchik, the 'Lady World Champion'!

On May 22nd 1943 she gave a simultaneous display in Walsall against 21 players, including some from The London Chess Club, in the presence of the Mayor, Mrs. MeShane. She won most of her games but lost or drew to several Kipping players. Later that year, in November, a team travelled 90 miles to Charfield in Gloucester for a match, the first of many annual excursions there. They were rewarded with "delightful opponents and bewildering hospitality'. These activities were among many which brought the club national attention, as exemplified by the reference in CHESS, March, 1944, to '…..the phenomenally successful "Kipping Chess Club" of Walsall.' Mr Parsons himself was referred to as one of the 'most successful chess organisers of recent years" in the same issue. Apparently he even arranged for'.. the cheery telegram from him that reaches the club's first team neatly in the middle of each away match.... No surprise then that he had been invited to pen an article on How To Start A Chess Club'!

Gradually it became clear that separate branch meetings were leading to a natural split within the club, and in March 1945 it was proposed that each branch should enter separate teams in the newly founded Wolverhampton & District Chess League. Nevertheless strong efforts were made to maintain the bond between the branches. Not the least of these was the annual publication of The Kipping Chess Club Magazine', previously known as the Yearbook. For example, the magazine of 1945-1946, under the editorship of W.F.Guy of the Wolverhampton branch, contained reports from all three branches and a Foreword from C.S.Kipping himself. Eventually however, the final separation of the Walsall branch from the others took place in May 1948 when the name "The Walsall Kipping Chess Club' was formally adopted by the club. (Later, C SKipping was to stipulate in his will that, providing the Club had retained this name at his death, it should receive a legacy of £200, which it did.) By this time the club had changed premises again, to the Wisemore schools. A regular change in venue almost seemed like an unofficial policy, because over the years the club restlessly toured most of Walsall, taking up residence at different times at:-The Technical College, St.John's Ambulance Brigade Rooms, Littleton St. Youth Centre, The Royal Hotel, The Kenmare Restaurant (Co-op), Walsall Library, The Mount Parish Hall, Rushall Central Club, Alumwell Community School, Walsall Rugby Club, The Chuckery Working Men's Club, The Bentley Leisure Pavilion, James Bridge Copper Works Social Club, before reaching its present venue at The Pleck Working Men's Club.

Meanwhile, the club soon achieved success in the local Wolverhampton & District Chess League, when it became Champions in 1947. Surprisingly though, it withdrew from this competition from 1951-54, only to return in the 1954-5 season. It then reached its heyday in this League with a very strong team which won the Championship four years running, from 1956-59, under the guiding captaincy of Tom Hollington. Although it continued to win this League from time to time, it never again managed to repeat that level of consistency. In contrast, similar success in the stronger Birmingham & District Chess League only came in 1992. In winning Division 1 of the League in that year to become Champions, the Club also succeeded in commemorating its Jubilee year in style.

However other plans to celebrate its 1992 Jubilee were in hand, the club having organised a major Chess Tournament at the Walsall Campus. It was played over the three days of the Easter weekend, and attracted entries from more than nine countries. The players included Alexei Suetin of Moscow, a leading Russian grandmaster (GM), six other GMs, and eleven international masters (IM). The national magazine CHESS described it at the time as 'the strongest ever weekend tournament on British soil', and recognised that the 'enticing conditions' provided by David Anderton O.B.E., chief organiser from the club, played a major part in this achievement. The winner was GM Murray Chandler from New Zealand, but a number of Walsall players won other prizes including WGM Jana Bellin, for Best Score by a Woman, and youngster Michael Gough (of Queen Mary's school), for Best under 200 grade.

The Jubilee was further marked by a simultaneous display by GM Alexei Suetin against members of the club at its clubroom the following week. Rob Jones not only provided him with the stiffest opposition, but engaged him in a discussion of the game in Russian afterwards!
In the meantime, a leading member of the club, the late Bill Withnall, together with the Secretary Ben Payne, suggested in 1990 that it organise a Rapidplay Congress, a tournament in which all games last a maximum time of one hour. It was held at The Alumwell Community School and was won by IM Lawrence Cooper, from Staffordshire. Since that time the club has held this one-day event annually, and it regularly attracts players from all over the Midlands and sometimes further afield. In recent years it has had the good fortune to attract sponsorship, most recently from Hadens Solicitors, Walsall. This has enabled it to offer larger prizes and become a very attractive event.

Further developments included the setting up of a training scheme for juniors at The Joseph Leckie Community School in 1993. Professional help, in the shape of Robert Bellin, was provided through sponsorship and it attracted a substantial number of local children. Much progress and enthusiasm was generated, and it ran for three years. In 1997, the Club hosted the Staffordshire Centenary Chess Tournament at its premises. This was a nine day event, organised by David Anderton.