Chess Club returns to the Mechanic's Institute

Going home: Members of the Geelong and Ballarat chess clubs play an intercity match in the Hooper Room in 1925. Picture: Ballaarat Mechanic's Institute.
Going home: Members of the Geelong and Ballarat chess clubs play an intercity match in the Hooper Room in 1925. Picture: Ballaarat Mechanic's Institute.

The Ballarat Chess Club has returned to its original home in the Hooper Room of the Ballaarat Mechanic’s Institute.

The club’s history states the present club goes back to a meeting at the Ballaarat Mechanic’s Institute on Tuesday, February 28, 1865, when the Ballarat Chess and Draughts Club was founded with 35 members.

The meeting was chaired by Mr Daniel O'Connor who was to be elected the first president of the club a few days later.

Ballaarat Mechanic’s Institute manager David Dahlenburg says the organisation is thrilled to have the chess club return to its foundation venue.

“We’re a venue of arts and culture and the chess club is unique to our venue,” Mr Dahlenburg said.

“It’s integral to what we to do.”

Ballarat Chess Club treasurer Kevin Perrin says the move will give the club the opportunity to access more space for its growing number of younger players.

“It’s a wonderful building, wonderfully situated in the very centre of town,” said Mr Perrin.

“Our attendances are up, and we have a a lot of juniors joining us. The move to the institute gives us the ability to use the Hooper Room, and if we need it for a larger number, then there is the Humffray Room to use.

“The Hooper Room is where we play our intercity matches against Geelong, as we did originally in the 1920s, and we have a picture of those matches still hanging in that room.”

Mr Perrin said the relationship with the City of Ballarat library, which had previously provided rooms for the chess club, was a sound one but with the impending works at Civic Hall, the members decided to look to the security the institute offered.

“The restoration of the institute is beautiful, and it’s a significant and central part of our history,” said Mr Perrin. “It will be good to return to that tradition.” 

The Ballarat Chess Club meets every Thursday beginning at 6.30pm in the Hooper Room, which is located within the Ballaarat Mechanic’s Institute at 117 Sturt Street. New members of all levels of chess experience are welcome.