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Guide for Visitors / New Joiners

The below is a short guide for visitors to the club, and for those interested in joining as a member.

Finding Us / Important Info

We play on Wednesday nights and are open from 7:30pm.

If driving we do have car parking available.  If commuting via public transport then we are <10mins away from Catford / Catford Bridge stations and close to bus routes.


Head to the far right door (Members Bar).  We play in the function room behind the bar. 

There are no fees involved in coming and having some friendly games, though you may choose to become a member (more below) should you wish to play in competitions.  Any visitor considering membership is encouraged to come along for a few weeks and discuss with one of our committee members.

Club Rules

Please switch mobile phones off or on silent and do not answer calls in the playing room

Whilst analysing games, please be mindful of noise levels if matches are taking place (you are welcome to take a set into the bar area)

Please be respectful to other members - abuse (verbal or physical) will not be tolerated


Starting Out

When starting out it is unlikely that you'll have an English Chess Federation (ECF) grade.  We will therefore estimate your strength and supply this to the competition secretary.  Whilst there is aim for adjustment we'll aim to be as accurate as possible - we do not want you getting beaten all the time, nor do we want you finding it too easy!

After 9 graded matches you will be assigned a grade by the ECF which we will be bound to use.

Everyone playing in League Chess must join the ECF.  An adult membership starts at £18, a junior membership for the first year is free.

Membership Subscription Costs

Our club year runs August-July.  We have 3 bands of subscription.  Adult (waged), Adult (unwaged), Junior (under 18).

For the year 2023-24, those rates are £60, £40 and £15  annually, respectively, of which £40 of each adult membership is paid to the Catford Cricket Club, at whose venue we reside.

The surplus money we make is mostly used to pay for league entry costs. 

Pro-rata subscriptions are available for those wishing to join mid-season from January.

Playing Matches

League matches must be scored/notated.  If you are unfamiliar with writing down your moves we can show you how to do so.

A handy guide is available here

Matches will also involve playing with a clock.  We use Digital Clocks for our League Games which the team captains can assist in setting.  Again, we will be happy to play some friendly games with you as you get used to using it.

We abide by the standard FIDE rules of chess - which can be accessed online  (


Some key points;

If you touch a piece you must move it (if there is a legal move to play)

When promoting a pawn you must use the correct piece (no over-turned rooks acting as Queens any more)

You must play your move before writing it down - and pressing your clock!

You cannot write anything other than your move on the scoresheet  (no notes)

You may only stop notating your moves in your final 5 minutes of allotted time (assuming the increment per move is <30 seconds)

Time Controls

Time Controls refer to the amount of time each player has on their clock for a match.

London, Kent and Central London Leagues have 75 minutes with a 15 second increment for the entire match

Croydon offer increment (as above), adjudication and adjournment options.



The Kent League run 7 competitions, on an average grade basis.  There are 2 sections for each competition - split geographically.  We play in the Metropolitan section, against sides from Charlton, Beckenham, Chislehurst, Petts Wood, Sidcup, Dartford and Gravesend. 

The regular season runs from October-March each year.  The top two teams in each section progress to a Semi-Final stage (April) and the winners play a final (in Dartford, in early May)



The Croydon League runs 5 competitions, 4 on an average grade basis, and one rapidplay division.

Sides playing in this League include Streatham, Crystal Palace, Beckenham (West Wickham), Old Whitgiftians (Croydon), South Norwood, Coulsdon and Wallington.

Each competition is a league basis with the top team being crowned champion.  The season runs between October and June.



London League run 4 open divisions, with promotion and relegation between them. 

All matches take place within Zone 1 with at least 50% of clubs using the League's Central Venue close to Holborn Station.

Our 'home' venue is Brokers Wine Bar, situated in Leadenhall Market a short walk from London Cannon Street, London Liverpool Street or London Bridge stations

Central London

The Central London League run 3 divisions with optional promotion between them.

Matches take place at the Churchill Tenants Association, approximately 5 minutes walk from Pimlico station.


What happens when I join?

Your contact details will be shared with the team captains who will generally look to pick their team between 1-2 weeks before the match in question.  Simply let them know your availability and they'll pick their teams accordingly.  We try to share out chess as evenly as we can to make sure everyone is getting games.

For Away fixtures (Kent / Croydon) there are usually lifts available.


Other Aspects of Membership


Although League Chess is the main draw for membership, we do also have other competitions / events / offerings that club membership brings.


  • Kent Summer Quick Play - this is an ungraded competition where games last 30 minutes and are handicapped (stronger player receives less time).  Players play 4 games in a night (competition takes place between June-September)


  • Bielski Cup - A Croydon League organised blitz tournament


  • Trost Trophy - A Croydon organised individual tournament


  • Lewisham Club Summer Tournament - Our internal tournament runs between June-October each year, is free to enter and has prizes for the winner and best 'unseeded' player (player below a certain rating)


  • Ted Mason Memorial - An internal tournament held in the summer with similar rules to the Summer Quickplay, with cash prizes for the top players.


  • Team Blitz - An annual event organised and held by Lewisham Chess Club with invites to teams in Kent and Croydon.  Players play 9 blitz games in a night


  • Kent County Chess - being a member of Lewisham Chess Club means you are eligible to play for the Kent County teams - Kent run teams at various levels and play their home matches at Dartford.


  • Library Access - we have a range of books and DVDs available to lend for £1 for a 2 month lend, 3 items at a time.  A catalogue is available upon request


  • Internal Events - in the past we've ran chess talks, puzzle competitions and blitz competitions throughout the year

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