Ambitious plans to make Porthmadog a major chess centre got the best start when 14 enthusiasts attended the launch of a new and friendly monthly club at the town's Royal Sportsman Hotel.

Founders Mike Leaver, John Bowers, and Roger Masson say the meeting was an informal get-together in the hotel's comfortable lounge, with everyone helping or playing each other for three hours.

Mike said: “Our first meeting went pretty much as we'd hoped, expected, and promised regarding welcoming all ages and abilities at chess. Everyone knew the basic rules and moves, and we three founders gave free coaching to those who wanted advice.

“Two younger boys came with a parent, and one man is a very good ex-league player. Five told us they are really keen to start in a club because normally they are stuck at home playing on their own against a computer, but want to meet and socialise with like-minded enthusiasts.

“Everybody gave us their contact details and said they would return next month – along with a few more who'd given advance apologies for the initial meeting. We have enough experienced players from the area to establish a credible team, arrange friendly matches against other local clubs, and eventually make Porthmadog a major chess centre.”

Mike says even those who've never played before and need to learn from scratch are welcome on the third Wednesday evening of each month. But numbers are limited to 35, due to the lounge size and members having enough standard chess sets. Under-18s must also be accompanied by an adult guardian because the hotel is a licensed premises.

Mike says the next monthly meeting is Wednesday, 17 April at 7.30pm. They will continue to meet for free at the hotel – which has excellent service and facilities – until such time as the club either becomes too big with lots more youngsters, or the hotel is too busy with staying guests. Then they might transfer to Porthmadog Library.

Typically other chess clubs within an hour's drive of Porthmadog have around 20 regular members. Of these, many simply prefer to play casually to make friends, though some want serious matches against towns like Tywyn, Machynlleth, Caernarfon, and Bangor.