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WELCOME to KEVEREL CHESS

Welcome to the Keverel Chess website, which will be covering all chess matters relating to Exmouth and Exmouth players, whether played or written in the town or further afield.

In addition, there will be a selection of chess books available to discriminating collectors. Lists will be updated regularly and enquiries about books listed may be e-mailed.

Introduction

Here are some short biographies of chessplayers who have made above-average contributions to chess at some level, whether in Devon or further afield.

The 1st editions of some of these articles got their first airing on the chessdevon website, and the author is grateful to its webmaster for that opportunity. These early ones have now all been reviewed and updated where new information has come to light before posting here.

Copyright remains with the author who will be pleased to receive further information for inclusion, or make corrections where necessary. Family history researchers should contact the author in the first instance with a view to a possible useful exchange of information.

Introduction to Exmouth Chess Club

Weekly Chess Column.

The Plymouth-based Western Morning News carries one of the oldest chess columns in any provincial daily paper. It was started in 1891 and has continued ever since in one form or another, in spite of having shifted for a short spell to another title in the same stable, the Illustrated Western Weekly News.

For the past 55 years it has had just three correspondents: J. E. “Eddy” Jones (1956 – 63); K. J. “Ken” Bloodworth (1963 – 1999) & R. H. “Bob” Jones from 1999.

For all this time, it has reported weekly on the chess activities within its readership’s area, Devon & Cornwall, However, since December 2010, in a cost-cutting exercise and rationalisation, the WMN joined forces with its Northcliff Group neighbour, the Bristol-based Western Daily Press, to produce a weekend supplement in common, called Westcountry Life. Fortunately, they retained the chess column, which means it now gets a much wider readership, and this must be reflected in the scope of what it records. So the activities in Somerset and Gloucestershire must get equal billing, as it were, with those of Devon & Cornwall.

One must hope this experiment will prove successful and continue. We hope chess followers will purchase the two papers in question, at least their Saturday edition, as this is the point of the exercise. However, I have permission to reproduce it on this website for the benefit of those outside the readership area.

To that end, I aim to post it here a day or two after its appearance in the paper.

Bob Jones

A Recent Nunn Win & WECU Junior Winners (25.03.2017.)

Grandmaster John Nunn’s unexpected appearance at the recent East Devon Congress undoubtedly created some extra interest in the event, and he didn’t disappoint, coming clear 1st with 4 wins and finishing with a draw. This was his game from Rd. 3.

White: Stephen Piper (187). Black: John Nunn (236).

Grünfeld Defence [D79]

1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 g6 3.g3 c6 4.Bg2 d5 5.cxd5 cxd5 6.Nf3 Bg7 7.0–0 0–0 8.d4 Ne4 9.Qb3 Nc6 10.Rd1 Na5 11.Qb4 Bf5 12.Nxe4 dxe4 13.Nh4 Bg4 14.Bxe4 Bxe2 15.Re1 Ba6 16.Bg5 Re8 17.Rad1 Rc8 Grabbing the open file with a rook – a contributory factor in Black’s win. 18.b3 b6 19.Ng2 Qd7 20.Be3 Bb7 21.Bxb7 Nxb7 22.Nf4 Nd6 23.Nd3 Rc2 24.a4 Nf5 Black must have calculated carefully that his advanced rook cannot become trapped and picked off. 25.Ne5 Qd5 26.Nc4 Rd8 27.Na3 Rb2 28.Nc4 Ra2 The rook cuts a lonely figure on a2, but cannot be taken, so must lie quietly. It doesn’t move again. 29.Rd3 e6 30.Red1 h5 As the White pieces are situated in the centre, Black chooses this moment to attack White’s king’s position. 31.Qe1 h4 32.Qf1 hxg3 33.hxg3 Qe4 34.Qg2 Qg4 35.d5 exd5 36.Rxd5 Just as White’s rooks break free for their self-imposed constraints, Black strikes. 36…Qxd1+! 37.Rxd1 Rxd1+ All other things being equal, two rooks are generally deemed to be stronger than a queen, providing they have scope to move and can cooperate, as is the case here. 38.Kh2 Nxe3 39.Nxe3 Rdd2 40.Qa8+ Kh7 41.Qxa7 Rxf2+ 42.Kh3 f5 Blocking off g5 as a possible escape route. 43.Kh4 Rh2+ 0–1 Resigned in view of 44.Kg5 Rh5+ 45.Kf4 Rf2#.

The West of England Junior Championships were held in Swindon last month, and the main winners were as follows:-

U-18: Michael Ashworth (Wotton Hall, Gloucester). U-18 Girls: Zoe Varney (Somerset). U-16: Oliver Howell (Somerset). U-14: Max Walker (Churchill Academy) & Ben Headlong (Swindon). U-12: Adam Hussain (Truro Prep School). U-12 Girls: Georgia Headlong (Swindon). U-10: Daniel Yu (Hants). U-10 Girls: Jaime Ashworth (Wotton Hall). U-9: Matthew Timbrell (Somerset). U-8: Daniel Shek (Yately Manor School). U-8 Girls: Jessica White (Wiltshire).

The West of England Congress starts a fortnight on Friday in Exmouth, with entries currently standing at 60 and rising. Time, therefore, not to risk missing the cut-off by getting entries to the Secretary, Meyrick Shaw, (tel: 01395-275494 or e-mail: wecu@hotmail.co.uk. Entry forms are downloadable from chessdevon.org.

The solution to last week’s 2-mover (above) was 1.Qe7! threatening 2.Qh4#.

This week’s position came from a recent game played in the 4NCL. As with 2 rooks vs a queen, Black’s 2 minor pieces should be slightly stronger than a rook, all other things being equal, but in this case they are not, as White has the opportunity to sweep away this slight inequality. How so?

White to play & win quickly

WECU Congress 2017 – entries as at Mon. 27th March

WECU  CONGRESS  2017  ENTRIES

As at Mon. 27th March

(17 days to go)

FIDE ECF OPEN CLUB
1 2408 240 K. C. Arkell Cheddleton
2 2160 212 W. Braun Exmouth
3 2098 186 P. Helbig S. Bristol
4 2072 194 J. Menadue Truro
5 2066 197 G. Bolt Railways
6 2061 186 M. Waddington Dorchester
7 2041 185 S. Dilleigh Horfield
8 2030 166 J. W. Bass Richmond
9 1997 175 D. Littlejohns Taunton
10 1994 183 R. Bryant Oswestry
11 1979 184 R. de Coverley Bourne End
12 1975 165 T. F. Thynne N. Abbot
13 1885 179 M. French Frome
14 1798 168 O. Wensley Exmouth
MAJOR U-1950
1 1927 167 R. Burton Weymouth
2 1897 169 J. Hickman None
3 1884 142 I. S. Annetts Tiverton
4 1876 163 J. Morgan Exeter
5 1860 165 W. H. Ingham Teignmouth
5 1855 164 J. McDonnell Streatham
6 1840 159 S. K. Dean Seaton
7 1821 159 B. G. Gosling E. Budleigh
8 1794 150 M. Page Insurance
9 1791 156 A. Price Leamington
10 1790 165 P. G. Jackson Coulsdon
11 1777 167 J. Nyman Kings Head
12 1738 153 A. Hibbitt Banbury
13 1716 147 P. Foley Upminster
14 1705 134 P. Jackson Bournemouth
15 1690 132 I. Blencowe Gloucester
16 1675 130 C. Brown Bath
17 1670 132 G. Parfett Athenaeumn
18 1668 155 C. Sellwood Camborne
19 1653 133 D. Lawrence Kings Head
20 1647 132 J. Robertson E. Kilbride
21 1644 137 M. Roberts Holmes Chapel
22 1614 133 L. Hafsted Exeter Juniors
23 1519 133 D. J. Adams Exmouth
24 134 P. A. Jackson Bournemouth
25 138 P. Foster Medway
26 137 D. R. Rogers Exmouth
MINOR U-130
1 128 P. Wood Hastings
2 128 J. Barber-Lafon N. Abbott
3 125 S. Barry Battersea
4 123 R. Hunt
5 123 P. Errington Bournemouth
6 119 R. Waters Taunton
7 119 N. Tidy Teignmouth
8 116 J. Dean Plymouth
9 107 A. Fraser Beckenham
10 104 D. Burt Bournemouth
11 93 H. Welch Seaton
12 93 John Carr —-
13 92 A. Davies S. Hams
14 89 M. Cox Southampton
15 81 R. E. Cox Southampton
16 71 B. Lockett N. Abbot
17 36 Wendy Carr —–
57 TOTAL ENTRIES

East Devon Congress Winners (18.03.2017.)

The East Devon Congress was held in Exeter last weekend and attracted a higher than usual entry of 155, including half a dozen with a Masters title.

The prizewinners were as follows:

Open Section: 1st John Nunn 4½. 2nd= Keith Arkell (Paignton), Jack Rudd (Barnstaple) & Mike Waddington (Dorchester) all 4 pts.

Major: (U-155) 1st David Archer (S. Hams) 4½. 2nd= Arthur Hibbitt (Banbury), Lander Arrasate (Sedgemoor), Brendan O’Gorman (DHSS), Charles Keen (Sidmouth), and Darrell Watson (Bourne End), all with 4 pts.

Minor (U-125) 1st Grant Daly (Downend) 4½. 2nd= Ken Alexander (Tiverton), Ray Hunt (Sidmouth), Paul Errington (Bournemouth), Tim Crouch (King’s Head), Maurice Richards (Liskeard) and Tim Roberts (Exeter Uni.) all 4 pts.

This was the first time GM John Nunn had played in this event since 1979, and the result was exactly the same as then; clear 1st on 4½ points ahead of a number of top players of the day.

The event has its own website, eastdevonchesscongress.com, containing more details and keverelchess.com has pictures of the action.

One of the Master players was an Austrian called Walter Braun, who had moved to Exmouth days before. His Rd. 1 game was one of the shortest ever played in the event and illustrates the need for caution even in the first few moves.

White: Walter Braun (203). Black: John Bass (166).

Queen’s Pawn Game [D01]

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nc3 d5 3.Bg5 c5 4.Bxf6 gxf6 5.e4 dxe4 6.dxc5 Qxd1+ 7.Rxd1 Bf5 8.Nd5 1–0 resigned in view of 8…Na6 9.Bb5+ Bd7 10.Nxf6+ exf6 11.Rxd7 Nxc5 12.Rd5+ Ke7 13.Rxc5 leaving Black a piece down and his position wrecked.

Meanwhile, someone else was making the same mistake.

White: R. Hutchings. Black: K. Arkell.

Benoni Defence [A62]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 c5 4.d5 exd5 5.cxd5 d6 6.Bg2 g6 7.Nc3 Bg7 8.Nf3 0–0 9.0–0 Re8 10.Nd2 Nbd7 11.Nc4 Nb6 12.Qb3 Nxc4 13.Qxc4 a6 14.Qh4 Ng4 15.Bg5 sealing his own tomb. 15…f6 16.Bd2 Re5 Trapping White’s queen which cannot avoid 17…Rh5 0–1.

This weekend the 31st Wiltshire and WECU junior championships are being held at St. Joseph’s Catholic College, Swindon. SN3 3LR.

After that will be the Teignmouth RapidPlay Congress on 1st April at Trinity School, Teignmouth, TQ14 8LY.

This will be followed by the West of England Congress, starting on Good Friday, 14th April, at the Royal Beacon Hotel, Exmouth.  Entry forms for both events are downloadable for chessdevon.org.

In last week’s position, the only thing preventing Jonathan Underwood (W) constructing a mating net by Bf6 was the knight, so 1.QxN! removes that obstacle and mate is inevitable.

This week’s 2-mover was composed exactly 50 years ago by Godfrey Quack, late of Exmouth.

White to mate in 2 moves

East Devon Congress – Out For A Duck! (14.03.2017.)

In his Encyclopaedia of Chess Variants, David Pritchard records that one of the most creative inventors of chess variants was Vernon Rylands Parton (1897 – 1974) whose most lasting invention was Alice Chess, based on Alice in Wonderland.

Vernon’s father ran a small private school in Cannock, Staffordshire. Both father and son and the school itself, referred to in the town simply as “Parton’s”, are described by a former pupil, Arthur Hopcraft in his autobiography, “The Great Apple Raid” (Heinemann – 1970 – pp113-116). My father also attended the school and got his taste for chess directly from Vernon c. 1917, and passed it on to me in the early 1950s. Like many others, my father and I both found bog standard chess enough to be going on with, without complicating it further.

Not so with Congress Secretary, Dr. Tim Paulden, who is himself entering the crazy world of Parton, not only embracing existing variants but inventing his own. He used the occasion of this year’s congress to launch Duck Chess on an unsuspecting world. The game requires a standard chess set, plus a duck! Tim researched the market for suitable ducks, testing their dimensions and quackability. Having found one, he order a significant number in small plastic bags together with an explanatory card, which reads thus:

Duck Chess is an exciting and absorbing new chess variant invented in 2016 by Dr. Tim Paulden (Exeter Chess Club).

The basic principle of the game is simple: in addition to the usual pieces, the two players have joint control of a small rubber duck which acts as a “blocker (i.e. nothing can move onto or through it). A player’s turn always consists of two actions (a) making a standard chess move and (b) moving the duck to any empty square on the board. There is no concept of “check” or “checkmate” – you must capture the enemy king to win!

For full rules and examples of play, go to www.duckchess.com.

Tim (left) shows Jack Rudd how it all works.

Tim makes a telling move before moving the duck with a hiss and a quack.

Max French of Millfield School takes over and a small and curious crowd starts to build up.

E. Devon Congress 2017 – The Endgame

Nunn's quick draw guaranteed him at least a share of 1st prize, but none could catch him. He has now entered the event twice - in 1979 and 2017, a mere 38 years apart, and each time he won with 4.5/5 ahead of a competitive field. He was happy to be photographed with the Steve Boniface Cup, but as his trophy cabinet at home is already full to overflowing, he regretfully had to leave it with the Committee.

Arthur Hibbert (W) in action against 7th seed, David Archer (S. Hams), the winner to take the trophy.

.... and David Archer came out on top, clear 1st in the Major Section.

Grant Daly of the Bristol Club, Downend & Fishponds, and 19th seed in his section, won the Minor, with a handsome trophy to go with it.

E. Devon Congress 2017 – Final Day (12.03.2017.)

By the end of Rd. 4, the Open Section had developed into a mini tournament between the titled players just playing among themselves. Top seed, Arkell had had a dodgy game against his former pupil, Rudd and dropped a half point, but Nunn’s scorecard was unblemished, while, the Spanish IM, Simon, the Austrian FM, Braun, and Tournament Secretary,Tim Paulden himself, were never far away.

A few scenes from the end of Rd. 4: Brian Gosling (E. Budleigh & Exmouth) plays Stephen Homer (Newton Abbot), while next door, Dave Littlejohns (Taunton) plays Adam Woodruff, formerly of Exmouth.

Jamie Morgan (Exeter) in action against Meyrick Shaw (Exmouth)

At the top of the Minor Section, Paul Errington faces Joy, one of the Fursman sisters, in front of Martin Maber against Ken Alexander

The 5th & final round gets under way with a handshake between John Nunn (4/4) and Jack Rudd. The prospect of a bright and breezy game in the usual Rudd style pleased the neutrals, but the game ended with a quick & quiet draw in 10 moves. There might have been an element of disappointment in the hall, but then, if John Nunn offered you a draw, wouldn't you accept?! It guaranteed Nunn at least a share of 1st prize.

David Pardo Simon kicks off against Keith Arkell. Both knew from early on that a win would catch Nunn in 1st place, but they could only manage a draw, Arkell having to draw on all his endgame powers to achieve that.

Walter Braun kicks off against Tim Paulden, who, in spite of the heavy organisational load in this his first year in charge, had an excellent tournament. The game finished as a draw, with only a knight and less than a handful of pawns each. It was good to have a fresh face featuring among the regulars, and he hopes to be on the local scene for the foreseeable future.

East Devon Congress 2017 – Day 2

As you may have seen from the official event website, it will display, (a) the pairings for each round; (b) the results of every game played in all 3 sections and (c) images of both scoresheets for every game played. These will be posted very quickly after each round. That will leave this site able to concentrate on pictures and stories that may emerge from the event. Comedy and tragedy – all will be ruthlessly unearthed and displayed for all to see.

Anthony Higgs is keen to set the ball rolling in his Rd. 2 against Arkell, but still lost in the end.

"Dr. Nunn, I presume". Dr. & double GM, John Nunn, starts off against Congress Secretary, Dr. Tim Paulden, who, at this point, thought it best to play his regular, favourite defence. Bill Ingham, winner of the Exmouth Seniors' Congress in November, looks on.

North vs South: Plymouth-born Candidate Master, John Wheeler, gets started against Bideford-based IM Jack Rudd.

Graham Bolt (in blue) recently captained Exeter's winning team against Exmouth (the current holders) in Devon's top team tournament, the Bremridge Cup. However, Exmouth are biting back, as Graham lost his Rd. 1 game against Paul Hampton and was kept to a draw in this next game against Meyrick Shaw.

In the "middle tier" of the Open. Bill Adaway considers his options against Chris Lowe, a lecturer at Exeter University, but formerly, back in the day, a member of the team of precocious juniors called Paignton Palace, headed by Gary Lane. Committee member, Mark Abbott, looks on

In the Minor Section, two Tiverton club members were paired in Rd. 2: Brian Aldwin, President of the Exeter & District Chess League, plays Dr. Honeyball, (facing) formerly lecturer in Law at Exeter University.

Nunn vs Paulden - the final throes: the game finished minutes after this. Afterwards, Tim observed "I played my favourite defence, but he just kept making all the right moves". Well, Tim, that's what Grandmasters do. Watching the last rites is surprise entry, Austrian FM, Walter Braun, while Dominic Mackle keeps an eye on Arkell's game. As No. 5 seed, Mackle has had an indifferent start to the tournament, but his class will surely tell in the end.

Bristol Spring Congress Results (11.03.2017.)

Bristol’s Spring Congress took place on the last weekend of February. Keith Arkell (240 – Paignton) won the Open Section with a maximum 5 points, as there was no-one anywhere near him in rating. The nearest was Thomas Villiers (204 – Barnet), who duly came 2nd.

The other sections were more closely contested with a quadruple tie in the Major (U-155), between George Georgiou (Swindon); Sam Jukes (Barry); Robert Radford (Keynsham) and Alan Papier (Bristol & Clifton), all on 4 pts.

The Minor (U-125) was won by James Rosseinsky (Horfield) on 4½ pts followed by Grant Daly (Downend), on 4.

This was Arkell’s final game that clinched his 1st place.

White: Keith Arkell (2406). Black: Joseph Turner (1936).

King’s Indian Defence – Fianchetto Variation [E62].

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.c4 Bg7 4.Nc3 0–0 5.g3 d6 6.Bg2 Nc6 7.0–0 e5 8.dxe5 dxe5 9.Bg5 Be6 10.Nd5 Bxd5 11.cxd5 Qxd5 12.Qxd5 Nxd5 13.Nxe5 Nxe5 If 13…Bxe5 14.Bxd5 Nd4 15.e3. 14.Bxd5 c6 15.Bb3 a5 16.a4 Nd7 17.Rab1 Nc5 18.Bc2 Rfe8 19.Be3 Ne4 20.Rfd1 Re7 21.Rd3 Rae8 22.Bb6 Chasing after pawns on the edge of the board may not appear significant at this stage of the game, but at the end winning this pawn is the difference between the two sides.  22…h5 23.e3 Re5 24.Rd7 Rd5 25.Rxd5 cxd5 26.Bxa5 d4 After the next skirmish. White has a 2–1 pawn majority, which he is adept at exploiting to his advantage. 27.exd4 Bxd4 28.Bxe4 Rxe4 29.Kf1 h4 30.Bd2 Be5 Now the road is clear to push those pawns a.s.a.p. 31.b4 Bd6 32.a5 Rd4 It’s also time for the king to step forward and play his part …. providing it’s safe to do so. 33.Ke2 f5 34.Bc3 Re4+ 35.Kd3 hxg3 36.hxg3 Rg4 37.Bd4 Bb8 38.b5 Kf7 39.a6 Ke6 No better is 39…bxa6 40.bxa6. 40.axb7 Kd5 41.Be3 g5 42.Rc1 f4 43.gxf4 gxf4 44.Bd4 f3 45.Rc5+ Kd6 46.Rc8 Black’s bishop must fall. 46…Rxd4+ 47.Kxd4 Ba7+ 48.Ke4 1–0.

The ECF’s Chess Book of the Year 2016 was Chess for Life by Matthew Sadler and Natasha Regan (Gambit – £15.99). The subtitle describes the book: “Understanding how a player’s chess skills develop and change with the passage of time”. To this end they interviewed a number of older players, and Keith Arkell contributed a section on rook & pawn endings, described by the judges as “masterly”, and “a mini textbook in itself”. His endgame mastery was on show at Bristol, as in the above game, making early exchanges of material in order to simplify and get to the endgame, where he could better exercise his skill.

The solution to last week’s problem by  Dave Howard was 1.Qe8! threatening 2.Qa4 mate. Black’s rooks have several tries, but 2.Nc5++ is also mate. The week before’s was solved by 1.Qa3! and not 1.Qxe3 which had inadvertently been left in from the previous week. Apologies for that.

This position arose in a recent game in the Devon leagues. Black has just played Qa6, so why did he resign next move?

White to move and Black resign

E. Devon Congress 2017 – Exeter – Rd. 1 (10.03.2017.)

This event started back in 1976 in a relatively small way, but 3 years later, with the benefit of local sponsorship, the entries shot up to 219. That year it was won by John Nunn ahead of a chasing pack that included Dave Rumens, Plaskett, Blackstock, Franklin and Peter Sowray – quite an array of up-and coming players of the time.

Since those heady days, the numbers have slipped, especially in recent years, but this year, for no obvious reason, the entry went right back up to the 150s, with a late influx of titled players. Devon residents Keith Arkell and Jack Rudd, were present, as one might expect, of course, but there were new names like IM David Pardo Simon, a Spanish student at the University, and an Austrian FM, Walter Braun, who had turned up to live in Exmouth only a few days earlier. Oh, and someone called John Nunn, making his first appearance here since 1979. His appearance could be a factor in the increased interest this year, but also there was an unparalelled entry of 12 from the University.

This year’s 42nd East Devon Congress got under way this evening in Exeter’s commodious Corn Hall, with words of welcome from Congress Secretary, Dr. Tim Paulden, whose energy in creating a new website for the event, with facilities for easy on-line entry, could be a 3rd factor.

The pictures set the scene and tell the story:-

Petra & John Nunn after checking the pairings for Rd. 1

Roger Hutchings (W), formerly of Barnstaple, takes on Keith Arkell on top board, but gets his queen trapped after 16 moves. David Pardo Simon, a Spanish student currently studying at Exeter University, looks on.

Austrian FM, Walter Braun (W) enjoyed a quick win against John Bass. Braun won their game in 8 moves, one of the shortest games in the Open in its 42 year history.

Former Scottish Junior International, Paul Hampton, faces Graham Bolt, and wins in c. 28 moves. Next to Bolt is Bill Adaway, who once got a draw against Portisch in a big London Open.

The diminutive figure that looks, at first glance across a crowded room, like a primary school pupil, is in fact Miss Ang from Singapore, currently a student at Exeter University.

... and she's giving congress regular, Brendan O'Gorman, quite a lot to think about.

Top board in the Minor: Christine Constable vs Ken Alexander. Christine's husband, John, is helping out as an arbiter in the absence through illness of Tony Tatam, while Ken is Secretary of the Torbay Congress and delivered the new, multi-coloured entry forms.

Dr. David Anthony Toms 1937 – 2017 (04.03.2017.)

David Anthony Toms 1937 – 2017

Dr. David Anthony Toms, a member of Sidmouth and Exmouth Chess Clubs, passed away on 15th February 2017, aged 80. A funeral service will be held on Tuesday 14th March at St. Leonard’s Church, Exeter, starting at 13.30 hrs. Any donations will go towards St. Leonard’s Church and the Kairos Prison Ministry, a world-wide organisation dedicated to supporting prisoners and their families.

David’s father and grandfather before him, both called Arthur, ran a meat pie and live & jellied eel  shop at 84, Chatsworth Road, Lower Clapton, Hackney. The road was originally constructed on virgin land in c. 1869, and was built especially straight and wide so as to allow for shops and a weekly market with stalls on either side of the road. Economic activity was stimulated in that area with the opening of Clapton station in 1872 and the arrival of the tram system. It is quite possible that the Toms family had lived in that road from the start, and this photograph of the Toms shop front suggests the Victorian era. 1

The Toms family business: Meat Pies & Live Eels

Below: Typical scene of Chatsworth Road, Clapham, at about the time of David’s birth. 2

Chatsworth Street, Clapham in the 1930s

Today one is more likely to find kebab shops and pizza parlours than jellied eel emporia, but the area is currently undergoing a Notting Hill-like process of gentrification, and a lively cross-cultural ethos is much in evidence around Chatsworth Road.

David attended the local primary school and might have succeeded to the eel empire, but he proved very bright and academic, and won a scholarship to Bancrofts School, a direct grant grammar school in leafy Woodford Green. Bancroft’s was very supportive of chess as a valuable extra-curricular activity. Not only David but several of his contemporaries were also successful as promising juniors, including R. Jessop.

1954 was his annus mirabilis on the chessboard. In January he won the London Boys’ Championship ahead of Michael Macdonald-Ross, thus joining the ranks of former winners like Harry Golombek (1929 – son of Polish-Jewish refugees) and Leonard Barden (1946 – son of a dustman), who both went on to become legends in the chess world.

In August he went on to play in the British Boys’ Championship, beginning a long association with Nottingham. He came 10th= scoring 6/11 points, a creditable total but not quite headline-making. However, on the strength of these two results he was invited to join a team of English U-18 juniors to tour Holland in which they played 4 teams of Dutch juniors, beating them all. David scored 2½/4 points.

In September, he played in the 3rd Paignton Congress, coming 2nd in the Premier Reserves C Section behind Peter C. Gibbs of Bradford. He didn’t play at Paignton again until 2009, when he took part in one of the last of the series before it was forced to move out of the famous Oldway Mansion.

Suddenly school days were over and he went to medical school, specialising in mental health and graduated with an MB. He followed a career in psychiatry, becoming a member of the Royal College of Physicians and later elected Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians. He was a Director of a group of psychiatrists based in Regent Street, Nottingham. His impressive title by this time was Dr. Consulting Psychiatrist David A. Toms  MB; MRCP; FRCPsych.

With this demanding career and a growing family of four children (2 sons & 2 daughters), there was no time for chess tournaments or weekend congresses, so he took to correspondence chess, carrying a small cardboard folding chessboard in his jacket pocket, for any opportune moment to analyse his current games.

Eventually he retired to the small village of Tipton St. John and joined the nearby Sidmouth Chess Club. At that time, the majority of members were happy to play only within their club, but several of the more able players joined the nearby Exmouth Chess Club in order to get games at the weekends in Devon’s 1st division, the Bremridge Cup, and David followed this path, contributing to them winning the title 9 times between 2002 – 2016. He was meticulous in recording in his scorebook not just his own game but the names of all players involved in the match and their individual scores and the team totals.

Dr. Toms in action against Dr. Peter Hempson at Paignton 2015.

He was elected President of the Devon County Chess Association in 2012.

When illness started to take its toll, he was not averse to telling friends what was wrong and how he was advising his own GP the best course of treatment.

Whenever his health allowed, he continued to play until very near the end.

Both his career and life generally were underpinned by his strong Christian faith.

R. H. Jones.

Credits:

  1. This silk screen print, adapted from an old photograph, was made by Hackney artist Richard Roberts, and is available from his website Roberts Print.
  2. 2.The street views may be found, along with many others of historical interest, on the Yeah! Hackney website.
  3. Photo by R. H. Jones.