About the Hamilton-Russell Chess Tournament

The Hamilton-­Russell Chess Tournament is a chess competition competed in by social, political, military and sports Clubs in Great Britain.

The list of Clubs has changed over the years and we always welcome enquiries from possible new or returning entrants. As at the 2013/14 season, the competing Clubs are The Athenaeum, The RAC, The Reform, The MCC, The Oxford & Cambridge, The Hurlingham, The Chelsea Arts Club, and The East India Club and The Oriental Club.

There are also a series of friendly matches, in which Brooks and Roehampton also take part.

The Cup is named after Frederick Gustavus Hamilton-­Russell, who founded the tournament. Here is his obituary from The British Chess Magazine, 1941:

“The Hon. F. G. Hamilton-­Russell, President of the British Chess Federation, died at Cleobury Court, Bridgnorth on September 3rd. He had not been in good health for two years: the sudden death of his wife, Lady Margaret in 1938, was a great shock from which he never properly recovered.

Chess, both international and national, suffers an irreparable loss. Mr Hamilton-Russell followed keenly all chess undertakings throughout the world. He subscribed most liberally to all enterprise connected with the game and was always willing to provide a cup or trophy where needed.

In earlier years he played in first-­class tournaments, his last appearance at the Federation meetings being the Southsea Congress of 1924.

At his suggestion a competition was arranged for the great London clubs (not chess) in which R.A.C., Authors, National Liberal, Reform, Carlton and others played. For many seasons he brought out a neat little booklet giving the complete results. He played for The Athenaeum where many of the matches took place at his London residence, 3 Cambridge Gate N W.

His most important gift was the cup bearing his name, held by the winner of the International Team Tournament. The very successful World Congresses held by F. I. D. E at London, Prague, Hamburg, Folkestone, Warsaw, Stockholm and finally Buenos Aires (enabled the players of all nations to meet together and understand one another. It is a strange irony of fate that this cup is now held by Germany.

When H. D. Dobell gave up the Hon. treasurership of the B. C. F., Mr Hamilton-Russell undertook the work and continued until 1939, when he consented to become President in succession to the late Canon Gordon Ross.

He was a prominent supporter of the British Chess Magazine and when a new company was formed to assume the continuance of this journal, he became its principal guarantor.

When it was decided to raise a permanent fund to perpetuate the memory of F. D. Yates (British Champion) Mr Hamilton-­Russell opened the list with £100.

He gave a similar sum to start the permanent Fund of the International Chess Federation and yet another £100 to give a good send off to the sum needed to hold the Team Tournament at Folkstone in 1933. It is impossible to mention the large number of generous gifts he made from time to time, but an example of his outstanding (and anonymous) donations was the amount that reached Mr Rees each year to help pay the expenses of the British players to the International Team Tournament.

Lady Margaret Hamilton-­Russell, his wife, was an all-­round sportswoman and won the Woman’s golf championship in 1903-­4-5. She gave the cup for the Girl’s Championship and together with husband, carried out all arrangements for an annual tournament.

A man of few words, what Mr Hamilton-­Russell did say or write was always sound common sense, straight to the point and very practical. Right up to the last he kept in close touch with everything to do with chess, his medical advisor admitting that news of the game had a tonic effect.

The British Chess Association has been fortunate in its Presidents and the name of the Hon. F. G. Hamilton-­Russell will be honoured as long as chess is played.

R. H. S. Stevenson.”

Hamilton-Russell obituaryphoto of cup

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