A short history of International activity

International chess has a long history in Scotand that dates back to medieval times. The Lewis chessmen, the oldest in Europe, were found near Uig on Lewis in the early 19th century. The origin of the pieces is unknown but it is likely they were made in Norway around 1200 AD and intended for use in Ireland.

You can see the chessmen at the National Museum of Scotland and the British Museum
Find out more about the pieces at Wikipedia

Records of chess in Scotland over the next six hundred years or so are sparse until Edinburgh Chess Club, reputedly the second oldest chess club in the world, was formed in 1822. Its famous correspondence matches with London gave bith to the Scotch Opening and laid the foundations for competitive activity to develop in Scotland.

However it wasn't until 1867 that Dundee held the first major International tournament in Scotland. Steinitz, the future first World Champion, participated but could only finish second to Neumann.

Captain Mackenzie was considered to be the nineteenth century equivalent of GM standard, finishing fourth in the strong 1878 Paris congress and taking first in Frankfurt 1887.

In 1884 Chess Scotland was formed, albeit as the Scottish Chess Association, and the Scottish Championship began its long run, interrupted only by the two world wars. It remains the premier internationally rated event in Scotland.

Over the next hundred plus years Scottish international involvement developed to its current state:
1) Scottish teams (add link to Team Chess) compete against other countries, primarily in events run by FIDE (the world governing body) and the ECU (doing the same for Europe).
2) Scottish individuals (add link to Individual Chess) play in a) international championships including the Scottish, British, European Union and European Individual Championships and b) international open and closed tournaments. Players seek to improve their international rankings and achieve titles whilst the elite players can aim to play on a professional or semi-professional basis.

Chess Scotland selects teams and individual players where organisers limit representation although many international tournaments allow entry simply by payment of an entry fee.

The fascinating Scotland's Chess Centenary Book by Craig Pritchett and M D Thornton, now out of print, is an invaluable reference source for this wishing to learn more about Scottish chess history up to 1984.


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