Anyone seeking new checkmates, ‘rook’ no further than the Hebburn Community Chess Club.

The club, based at St Luke’s Methodist Church Hall on Burn Heads Road, was established in 1965, and has been run ever since by John Jobling, 80, who is the club’s chairman.

Mr Jobling said: “We used to play in each other’s houses, and it was a nice social evening.

“About six years ago I contacted the council for financial support, and we moved to the church hall.

“The club belongs to the town, and the council has given us good support.

“We’ve got 29 members, but we would like to get up to 40. We have eight younger members, aged seven to 12, and we have a lad in the younger group called Mark Rowden who is a wonderful player – his dad, Kevin, is also a county player.”

Mark, 12, is a pupil at Mortimer Community College in Reading Road, South Shields. He is the Hebburn Junior Cup winner and a former Durham County champion.

Mr Jobling continued: “We have good facilities at the church. We’ve got the privacy of the hall, and it’s well heated.

“We have food, and tea and coffee at half time. Everybody plays two games on the night.

“We have a player here, Bill McElwee, who has been playing in the league for 20 years, and he is 87 years old, and he still challenges everybody who comes into the club.

“We need a few more senior members, but also the youth.”

The club meets every Wednesday. The opening game is at 7pm, with the final one at 10pm. Annual membership is £5, and each session costs £1.50, with the first two sessions free of charge.

All potential new members, male or female, will be made welcome. Anyone interested in joining, call Mr Jobling on 421 3852.