Folkestone Chess Club won

the Miller Cup in 2019. 

Folkestone Chess Club won the

Stevenson Cup in 2015.

THE CHESS OLYMPIAD: When the World Cup of Chess Came To Folkestone


Today chess is played online and tournaments are followed anywhere in the world, but there was a time when the south coast of England was the Riviera of chess and in 1933 the 5th Chess Olympiad, the World Championships, were held in Folkestone. The picture above is the Folkestone Herald, and the report covered a full double page each week.

The two week tournament at the Leas Cliff Hall ran from June 12th-23rd. Making up the sixteen teams were Austria, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Estonia, France, Great Britain, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Scotland (in an uncanny portend of independence!) Sweden, and the world champions and favourites, the USA, including one of the all-time greats in FJ Marshall. Estonia did not turn up, which is always a problem with chess matches! There was no Soviet Union as chess had not yet become the ideological symbol for them as it did after the war.

The British Chess Federation met the cost of hosting the teams in hotels and the figure is put at £1000, worth £60000 in today's money. That included a donation of £100 from Folkestone Chess Club, (£6000), which is extraordinary sum!

The world champion was Alexander Alekhine, a Russian émigré who had taken up French 'nationalité' whilst another French player was the artist Marcel Duchamps, who came fourth from last ahead of three Scotsmen! Was his art better than his chess – you decide!

Alekhine won the most individual points with 8 wins, 3 draws and 1 loss, but the event was won by the United States. The Czech team, which came second, said they were put off by the sea air! The woman's event was won by Vera Menchik of Czechoslovakia, 14-0 – so not put off by the sea air, but then she was a member of Hastings Chess Club. Had she played with the men perhaps Czechoslovakia might have won?

The innovation of this tournament was for teams between the Leas and the town hall to telephone their moves to each other. Wow! On the chess board the innovation came from Sweden in the Tarrasch variation of the Queens Gambit, hence the name the 'Swedish' or 'Folkestone Variation'. For the chess aficionados amongst you; 1.d4-d5, 2.c4-e6, 3.Nc3-c5, 4.cxd5-exd5, 5.Nf3-Nc6, 6.g3-c4.

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