Ballarat Chess History
The first Ballarat Chess Club was formed at Brun's Cigar Divan on Monday, 16th June 1856. It is unknown how long the 1856 club lasted. A number of chess clubs were founded in Victoria during the 1850's (Melbourne 1851, 1855 and 1857, Geelong 1855, Beechworth 1857, Ararat 1859) but the constant movements of the population during the gold rushes mitigated against the clubs lasting for very long.The first Ballarat Chess Club is no exception and it seems to have petered out like the others.
It seems likely that the present club goes back to a meeting at the Ballarat Mechanics Institute on Tuesday, February 28th, 1865, when the Ballarat Chess and Draughts Club was founded with 35 members. The meeting was chaired by Mr.Daniel O'Connor who a few days later was to be elected the first President of the club.
Events moved fairly quickly. On Tuesday night the club was formed. On Friday night at a meeting of the Mechanics Institute Committee O'Connor introduced a delegation consisting of Messrs. C.Fisher and W.Marshall which applied for the use of a room at the Institute two evenings a week.
Ballarat owes its accurate chess records to Mr.Nathan Spielvogel, who became secretary in 1893 and who also played interstate competition.
For more research on the history of Ballarat chess see the Bas van Riel Website
Four Major Annual Club Tournaments
1. The Spielvogel Memorial
Upon his arrival in Ballarat, Arthur had told the “Courier” that a highlight of his youth was holding the World Champion to a draw in a simultaneous exhibition in Riga. The Champion could only have been Mikhail Botvinnik, a notable achievement indeed. He was also a strong and active CC player, winning the Victorian Correspondence Chess championship in the 1950’s and representing Australia in a CC Olympiad. By a curious coincidence, the current President of the Club, Patrick Cook, played against Mr.Teters a number of times in the 1970’s and ‘80’s, without ever knowing of his connection to Ballarat chess. Kevin Perrin also played and defeated Mr.Teters at the Geelong Open 1976. So, it is important that he not be forgotten and this new tournament is an appropriate salute to a past Ballarat champion.
This chess clock, made in Ballarat by J Tkatch for Arthur Teters, was donated by Bill Homburg to the Ballarat Chess Club in 2014. It has a plaque added to the rear to name the Teters Champions.
4. Arthur Koelle Tournament.
Like the Club Championship, the A Grade is a round robin tournament restricted to 8 players, while the B Grade tournament format depends on the number of entries. The inaugural tournament was held in 2011 and was won by Rob Loveband. Mr. Arthur Koelle was Victorian Junior champion in 1968 at 14, Country Victorian champion in the same year, and Club champion, also in 1968 as well as 1969. Most of these achievements are age records to this day! He went on to win the Australian Junior championship in 1971. Arthur has been living in Germany since 1982 and competed in the famous Bundesliga club competition, mixing it with experienced grandmasters, up until the mid-1990’s when work commitments became more pressing.
Here is a link to a very interesting game played by Arthur Koelle in the final round of the German Landesliga. The game went for 6hrs 55 mins and Arthurs win gave his team the premiership in the division. The win came just before the sudden death at 7 hours. There were errors on both sides but it was played under great tension. It was the last game of the final round with the outcome to determine the team winner for the year in that division. Hannover Chess is the web page in German, and for the game try here.