Chess is back in action across Huddersfield, helped by a Netflix drama.

The Queen’s Gambit mini-series in 2020 sparked a rise in the number of youngsters taking up the game, says Huddersfield and District Chess Association president Steve Westmoreland who founded Holmfirth Chess Club five years ago. Steve is also the Yorkshire Chess Association deputy president and county captain.

The Netflix series was set during the Cold War era and featured orphaned chess prodigy Beth Harmon struggling with addiction in a quest to become the greatest chess player in the world.

Steve said the pandemic also made chess popular with people playing online.

“Covid and the very popular Queen’s Gambit series on Netflix led to a boom in chess,” he said. “Numbers shot up so much we even ran out of table space for juniors and new clubs started springing up over Yorkshire. Yorkshire Junior events, including one at Holmfirth High, started selling out well in advance.”

Holmfirth Chess Club was originally founded by Steve along with Andrew Dearnley and David Booth and has a great track record of attracting and developing new players.

It was named England Chess Federation’s small club of the year in 2022 for its efforts to keep chess in the district going throughout the pandemic and promoting junior chess, with the club boasting an unusually large number of Yorkshire county players.

The junior team finished joint third in the under 18s Yorkshire League, matching the might of Hull, Sheffield and York with two juniors, Alex Burke and Isaac Fossey, recently part of the winning Yorkshire team in the Northern Counties Pennine Cup.


Holmfirth Chess Club members Alex Burke (left) and Phil Ramsey


Holmfirth Chess Club plays in the Saturday Yorkshire League, as well as Calderdale and Huddersfield competitions. It has one county captain and 11 active county players.

A Yorkshire team which took on Kent in Peterborough this weekend featured three juniors from the club who are all Holmfirth High School pupils – Jacob Westmoreland, Rogan O’Reilly and Harley Townsend – along with another club member, Dan Czerniuch.

Steve says Holmfirth Chess Club was created as a result of the decline of clubs in the Huddersfield League. The collapse of Netherton and West Bretton left only Honley and Huddersfield in 2018, with Calderdale entering the odd competition but then things started to change.

“Junior involvement was very light on the ground,” he said. “In 2018 Huddersfield had managed to build up into large numbers, making the decision to split and form a new club very tempting. The Farmers Arms in Holmfirth offered a free room so I resigned as club secretary and left to start up Holmfirth with David Keddie.

“We immediately had new players signing up. I was pleasantly surprised by the sudden popularity and the effects of reaching out into a community in what was regarded as a declining sport.”

The club moved to the Stumble Inn on Woodhead Road at Holmbridge and a much larger room but its first season was ended due to covid restrictions.

Steve said: “We continued to keep the club open when allowed and quickly became a hub for the wider league, with most premises shut. We also moved online.

“Locally, people started looking at the Holmfirth model and repeating. The tremendously popular and well run Meltham Chess Club was created a year ago. Dewsbury entered the league and completely rebuilt from the ground up with a strong junior focus. A new club is now likely to start in the next few months at Denby Dale.

“New competitions were created, such as the David Keddie Cup, which had 30 players regularly competing at Holmfirth.”



A knockout cup featuring three Meltham teams, two Holmfirth, Belgrave (Halifax), Huddersfield and Honley – that’s 40 players across the Huddersfield and District League – was won by Holmfirth.

It’s called the Bill Lumley cup in honour of local chess player Bill who lives in Gomersal and became an international chess master while running East Bierley Chess Club.

Holmfirth Chess Club meets every Wednesday night at the Stumble Inn. Juniors start at 6pm with older juniors and adults playing from 7.30pm.

Everyone is welcome no matter where they live in Kirklees or Halifax if they want to play either socially or competitively.

Anyone interested should email Steve at

For more on the Holmfirth Chess Club go to