I decided to join Hull University Chess Club - if one existed - even before I arrived at University. I joined the Club at the Hull University Union Societies' Bazaar in September 1996 and remained a member until I left University.
The Club fielded one team in each of the two Hull & District leagues. My entry into league and cup chess came about by accident: when someone mentioned a chess team and a chess league, I thought he was talking about two different things and that the league was an internal one. Nonetheless, I started playing in the 4-board team (4-player team) in October. After one match in February 1997, in which I was the only Hull University player to win, I started playing in the 6-board team (The main one) when there was a vacancy. I was a regular player in the 6-board team in 1997/98, and in both teams in 1998/99 (The 4-board team was suspended in 1997/98 due to a lack of members).
I was appointed Secretary/Treasurer during the 1997/98 season. Later, after I forwarded information from the Hull & District Chess Association, the President said he would recommend me as his successor at the Annual General Meeting, although in the event no AGM took place.
I recruited members to the Club at the Societies' Bazaar in September 1998, where I offered half price membership to anyone who could beat me in a five minute game (Each player has five minutes to make all his moves; those who manned the stand two years earlier offered free membership to anyone who could beat them, but I was told I would have to make up any shortfall in subscriptions with my own money). At the first club night of the new season, I was the only one of the previous season's members present. I therefore stood in as President and 6-Board Team Captain, offering to hold elections if anyone wanted to replace me. At the same time, I asked for members to fill the positions of Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, Publicity Officer, 4-Board Team Captain and Website Editor; all these positions were filled unopposed by the end of November. I would have done better to recommend in advance of the first club night that elections take place that evening, mentioning that I intended to stand for election as President and 6-Board Team Captain.
My duties as Team Captain, as specified by the HDCA, were to arrange matches, and record and report the results. I also needed to select players for the team, book a room for home matches that were not played on the normal club night, and get the team to away matches.
Normally, I was only expected to contact the opposing captain to arrange a match in which my team was playing at home. However, at the start of the season, the Club's officers were not known by the Association, which meant I had to contact all opposing captains until the Association published a newsletter. I also had to contact opposing captains to arrange matches which were due to be played in holiday or examination periods.
When contacting opposing captains, I did so up to six weeks in advance (as far as the playing rules allow). This not only allowed time to put together a team, but also allowed other events, notably the 4-board team's matches, to be scheduled for different dates.
When matches were arranged for consecutive evenings, I decided to submit the results of those matches at the same time (The results had to be sent no more than a week after the match). If I met the League Secretary at the playing venue, I did not need to post the result sheet at all. This saved envelopes and stamps.
As all university students have E-mail addresses, at first I relied on E-mail when inviting Club members to take part in matches. This seemed to work when, for each of the first three matches, six players - including myself - said they wanted to play. However, the number of volunteers then declined, so I decided that as well as using E-mail, I would telephone members or visit them in person.
Although a full team was promised for each of the first three matches, there were players who either did not arrive at all, or arrived a few minutes before the match to tell me they could not play after all.
When the team played away, I sent members directions to the venue, such that they could arrive by either car or public transport. One player offered his car for every away match; I went by public transport anyway, so he could take the other players in his car. Towards the end of the season, I compiled a file giving directions to all the HDCA member clubs.
As President, I had a place at HUU societies' meetings - and on the HUU Societies' Council when it was established - and on the HDCA Executive Committee.
There were four occasions during the 1998/99 season when the Club's normal playing room was given to another society, namely the second club night in November and the first three club nights in March. On the first occasion, I was informed before the season started. On the third occasion, however, nobody from the Chess Club was told until a few minutes before the match; as no suitable room was available, we had to play in an adjoining room, where we could hear the noise from the other society. We were able to use a quieter room the following week, but I still only found out on the day of the match that we would have to move.
During the same season, I received E-mail messages about forthcoming HDCA events from a member of the HDCA Executive Committee. I forwarded those messages to my clubmates (I think I did, although I do not remember doing it), but had I thought of it at the time I would also have offered to ask my clubmates to let the HDCA contact know if they wanted to be added to the HDCA E-mail list.
At one point during my time at University, I suggested an internal chess league consisting inter alia of teams representing University departments, HUU societies and halls of residence. I probably copied this idea from the Athletic Union's Intra-Mural Leagues. However, the league never materialised.
In September 2005, after rejoining HUU as a life member, I restarted the Club at the Societies' Bazaar. A meeting was subsequently held and an Executive elected. However, the Club seemed to have folded after a year, and I restarted it again in 2007. I attended the Club infrequently, but offered to share information and advice with members whenever possible.