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National Success for Devon Club (18.04.2015.)

Devon had a club success at national level for the first time in a number of years last weekend when Newton Abbot won the Major Section of the newly-reformatted National Club Championships. Their Club Secretary, Trefor Thynne reports:-

Holiday Inn, Birmingham Airport, 11th -12th April 2015

A Newton Abbot Perspective:    

Newton Abbot Chess Club scored a notable success for Devon chess when they won, at their first attempt, the MAJOR Section (U-175 grade average)  at the revamped National Club Championships held in Birmingham over the weekend of  11th – 12th April. The Club’s 1st team was as surprised as anyone by the ease of their victory as they won all four of their matches and finished 3 points clear of the runners-up. Not only that, but the Club’s 2nd team did very well in coming 3rd out of 10 teams in the INTERMEDIATE Section (U-150 grade average).

The idea of entering teams for this event had come about when several of the club’s members decided to do something different from the usual run of local league competitions. The National Club Championships, formerly run like the FA Cup with a season-long knock-out campaign (although with the addition of a Plate competition for Rd. 1 losers) had somewhat lost its cachet with the expansion of the 4NCL, and in 2014 the ECF decided to reinvent the competition as a weekend congress at High Wycombe for club teams. Each team would consist of 4 players and would play 4 matches over the weekend. This year the event switched to the conveniently central location of Birmingham and attracted an increased entry into its 4 sections (Open, Major, Intermediate and Minor).

The Newton Abbot club (which incidentally celebrates its 10th birthday this year) entered two teams whose members were:

MAJOR:   Stephen Homer (184); John Fraser (175); Trefor Thynne (168); Matthew Wilson (157). (av. 171)

INTERMEDIATE: Andrew Kinder (146); Wilf Taylor (142); Vignesh Ramesh (138); Jacquie Barber-Lafon (121). (av. 136).

It was noteworthy that each of the two teams contained one of Devon’s best junior players: 17 yr- old John Fraser, already an England international, in the Major team and 14 yr -old Vignesh Ramesh in the Intermediate, both products of Torquay Boys’ Grammar School.


Rd. 1:  Newton Abbot (171) 2½ – 1½ Wanstead and Woodford (173).

(Homer 1; Fraser ½; Wilson 0; Thynne 1)                                       

Rd. 2:  Newton Abbot 2½ – 1½ DHSS (167).

(Homer ½; Fraser 1; Wilson ½; Thynne ½)

Rd. 3: Newton Abbot 3 -1  GLCC (173).

(Homer 1; Fraser ½; Thynne ½; Wilson 1).

Rd. 4: Newton Abbot 2½ – 1½ Solihull  (169).

(Homer 0; Fraser 1; Thynne ½; Wilson 1).

Individual scores: Homer 2½ Fraser 3 Thynne 2½ Wilson 2½


1st Newton Abbot 8:   2nd Wanstead and Woodford 5:        3rd Drunken Knights                         

4th Solihull 3:              5th  DHSS 2:                                                   6th  GLCC 2.


Rd. 1:  Newton Abbot (136) 1-3  Leamington (125).

(Kinder 0; Taylor 0; Ramesh 0; Barber-Lafon 1).

Rd. 2: Newton Abbot  3 -1 Redditch  (135).

(Kinder 1; Taylor ½; Ramesh 1; Barber-Lafon ½).

Rd. 3:  Newton Abbot  2½ – 1½ Wanstead & Woodford  (144).

(Kinder ½; Taylor 1; Ramesh 0; Barber-Lafon 1)

Rd. 4: Newton Abbot 2 – 2 Sutton Coldfield (144).

(Kinder 0; Taylor 0; Ramesh 1; Barber-Lafon 1).

Individual scores: Kinder 1½; Taylor 1½;  Ramesh 2;  Barber-Lafon 3½).


1st Sutton Coldfield 7;                 2nd Braille Chess Association 6;        3rd Newton Abbot 5;                             4th Newport (Salop)  5;          5th Leamington 4;                              6th Warley Quinborne 4;          7th Redditch 4;                                          8th Wanstead & Woodford 2;             9th Wolverhampton 2;            10th  GLCC 1:

The pleasing thing about the performance of the Newton Abbot 1st team was the consistency over all 4 boards with no weak link. Each player scored vital wins in closely-fought matches. Considering that the majority of previous winners of this event have come from the powerful south-east of England, this victory is a notable triumph for Westcountry chess (one leading ECF officer present actually asked me after the prize-giving “Where exactly is Newton Abbot? “ I was pleased to reassure him that yes, good chess was played in the far south-west and no, we did not have straw sticking out of our ears!

The club’s second team also exceeded expectations since they had the 3rd lowest average grade of the 10 teams. All four team members contributed wins at vital moments but the outstanding score (3 ½) was that of Devon and West of England Ladies’ Champion on Bd 4, Jacquie Barber-Lafon.

To conclude, the experiment of entering this new-style event can be called a resounding success and it perhaps paves the way for other Devon clubs in the future. Certainly the format was much appreciated by all teams who competed in an enjoyable atmosphere of friendly rivalry. Accommodation (discounted rates on offer for chess players) in the Holiday Inn was excellent, as were the playing conditions in the hotel.

Newton Abbot Chess Club members look forward to defending their title in 2016. Let us hope to see other Devon clubs also take up the challenge of competing on the national stage.

Trefor Thynne.

NB: Wilson finished early and left for home, thereby missing the team’s photo opportunity, but the organisers insisted on 4 players being present, so Andrew Kinder appears in both teams below.

1st Team: (l-r) Alex Holowczak (organiser); Thynne; Homer; Fraser & Kinder.

2nd Team: (l-r) Ramesh; Taylor; Kinder & Barber-Lafon.

West of England Championship & Congress – Day 2

 The results of the morning games, with its 5 draws,  led to a certain bunching up of scores, behind the sole leader, Keith Arkell. In the last game to finish, Slade pushed Mackle to the limit, but with only a few minutes of extra time left, a draw was agreed, with Slade having the only piece on the board. The withdrawal of Fallowfield jr. meant that a bye was created and this fell to Maurice Staples. He got the full point, but had a meaningful game against a player with a bye  in the Minor. By chance (no pun intended), this happened to be Hazel Welch, which meant that a former WECU Champion was playing a former WECU Ladies Champion, and that doesn’t happen often.

  Open – Rd. 3            
1 Arkell, Keith CC 2493 (2) ½ – ½ Rudd, Jack 2251 (1½)
2 Smith, Andrew P 2132 (1½) ½ – ½ Menadue, Jeremy FS 2043 (1½)
3 Shaw, Meyrick 1980 (1½) ½ – ½ Bolt, Graham 1989 (1)
4 Mackle, Dominic 2248 (1) ½ – ½ Slade, Theo 1962 (1)
5 Bartlett, Simon 1961 (1) 0 – 1 McMichael, Richard J 2176 (1)
6 Brusey, Alan W 1991 (1) ½ – ½ Dilleigh, Stephen P 2106 (1)
7 Bass, John W 2013 (1) 0 – 1 Thompson, Robert 1995 (½)
8 Littlejohns, David P 1983 (½) 1 – 0 Savory, Richard J 2100 (½)
9 Staples, Maurice J 2006 (½) 1 –      

The afternoon saw 5 wins, with the 3 titled players starting to edge ahead, while Brusey and Bolt continued their good run of form.

  Open Rd. 4              
1 Menadue, Jeremy FS 2043 (2) 0 – 1 Arkell, Keith C 2493 (2½) 1
2 Rudd, Jack 2251 (2) 1 – 0 Shaw, Meyrick 1980 (2) 17
3 Staples, Maurice J 2006 (1½) 0 – 1 Smith, Andrew P 2132 (2) 5
4 Dilleigh, Stephen P 2106 (1½) ½ – ½ Mackle, Dominic 2248 (1½) 3
5 McMichael, Richard J 2176 (2) 1 – 0 Littlejohns, David P 1983 (1½) 15
6 Thompson, Robert 1995 (1½) 0 – 1 Brusey, Alan W 1991 (1½) 13
7 Bolt, Graham 1989 (1½) 1 – 0 Bartlett, Simon 1961 (1) 19
8 Savory, Richard J 2100 (½) ½ – ½ Bass, John W 2013 (1) 10
9 Slade, Theo 1962 (1½) 1 –        

West of England Championship & Congress – Day 1

 After a few words of welcome by the Union’s out-going General Secretary, the show got on the road at exacty 10 a.m.  There had been a few late entries balanced by 4 even later withdrawals. The average grade of the 18 entries in the Open was 190 (ECF) which made this the strongest Open section for many years. There were 4 former champions involved, Arkell, Rudd and Mackle, of course, from recent years, but they were joined by Maurice Staples who had played in the event 18 times several decades ago, and became WECU Champion in 1979.

This overall strength was borne out when Rd. 1, usually the occasion for much bloodshed in any Swiss event,  ended with only 3 wins. The surprise of the round was prbably Alan Brusey’s win over McMichael.

  Open – Round 1            
1 Arkell, Keith C 2493 (0) 1 – 0 Bass, John W 2013 (0)
2 Staples, Maurice J 2006 (0) ½ – ½ Rudd, Jack 2251 (0)
3 Mackle, Dominic 2248 (0) ½ – ½ Thompson, Robert 1995 (0)
4 Brusey, Alan W 1991 (0) 1 – 0 McMichael, Richard J 2176 (0)
5 Smith, Andrew P 2132 (0) ½ – ½ Bolt, Graham 1989 (0)
6 Shaw, Meyrick 1980 (0) ½ – ½ Dilleigh, Stephen P 2106 (0)
7 Fallowfield, Jeremy R 2072 (0) 0 – 1 Slade, Theo 1962 (0)
8 Bartlett, Simon 1961 (0) ½ – ½ Menadue, Jeremy FS 2043 (0)
9 Savory, Richard J 2100 (0) ½ -      
10 Littlejohns, David P 1983 (0) ½ -      

The afternoon round was preceded by a presentation to Jack Rudd of the handsome trophy awarded to Devon’s Champion of Champions. This is competed for, on a knock-out basis, by the Champions of each club affiliated to DCCA. Jack represented Barnstaple’s interests and the shield was handed over by Keith Arkell. (see photo below). This 2nd round proved different inasmuch as there were only 2 draws, and when play was over for the day, Arkell was left as the only one on 2/2 points.

  Open – Round 2            
1 Slade, Theo 1962 (1) 0 – 1 Arkell, Keith CC 2493 (1)
2 Menadue, Jeremy FS 2043 (½) 1 – 0 Brusey, Alan W 1991 (1)
3 Rudd, Jack 2251 (½) 1 – 0 Littlejohns, David P 1983 (½)
4 Bolt, Graham 1989 (½) ½ – ½ Mackle, Dominic 2248 (½)
5 Thompson, Robert 1995 (½) 0 – 1 Smith, Andrew P 2132 (½)
6 Dilleigh, Stephen P 2106 (½) ½ – ½ Bartlett, Simon 1961 (½)
7 Savory, Richard J 2100 (½) 0 – 1 Shaw, Meyrick 1980 (½)
8 McMichael, Richard J 2176 (0) 1 – 0 Staples, Maurice J 2006 (½)
9 Bass, John W 2013 (0) 1 –      
10 Fallowfield, Jeremy R 2072 (0) ½ –      


General view of Rd. 1 in action

Rd. 1 - Bd. 1: Arkell vs Bass

3 Cornish players: Bartlett vs Menadue (nearest) & Slade vs Fallowfield (in blue).

Jack Rudd receives his Winter-Wood shield from Keith Arkell.

Arkell plays his much-favoured Caro-Kann against Theo Slade.

Congress Secretary, Meyrick Shaw, on his was to a Black win against Fallowfield.


Bds. 2 - 4: Menadue vs Brusey nearest.

Teignmouth RapidPlay 2015 Results

The prizewinners in the 34th Teignmouth Rapidplay Congress, played on Saturday 28th March,  were as follows:

  Open Grd Club Pts
1st Patryk Krzyzanowski 197 Yeovil 5
2nd= Jonathan Underwood 196 Seaton/Exmouth
  Steve Homer 194 Newton Abbot
GP (A) Meyrick Shaw 164 Exmouth 4
GP (B) Rob Wilby 142 Plymouth 3
  Steve Pollyn 143 Wimborne 3
U-14 Vignesh Ramish 161 Newton Abbot 3
  Graded Section      
1st= Paul Brackner 121 Bridport 5
  Duncan Macarthur 134 Keynsham 5
  Chris McKinley 123 Sedgemoor 5
GP (A) Kelvin Hunter 120 Tiverton  
GP (B) Gary Behan   99 Plymouth
U-14 Nandaja Narayanan   94 Newton Abbot 3
  Macey Rickard 103 Teignmouth 3

The cross tables, generated by Tournament Director, are here:-

NB    Index:
A = Player’s score
B = Number of graded games played
C = Total grading points
D = Performance Grade

Pos Name Grade 1 2 3 4 5 6 A B C D
1 Krzyzanowski, Patryk 197C b6+ w5+ b10+ w4= w8= b2+ 5 6 1230 205
2 Homer, Stephen J 194C b21+ w20= b3+ w9+ b4+ w1- 6 1220 203
3 Underwood, Jonathan 196F w13+ b9= w2- b7+ w5+ b8+ 6 1175 196
4 Piper, Stephen J 185C w18+ b16+ w8+ b1= w2- b9= 4 6 1116 186
5 Shaw, Meyrick 164A w14+ b1- w11+ w17+ b3- w13+ 4 6 1146 191
6 Bartlett, Simon 156A w1- b18= w16+ b11+ b9= w10= 6 1065 178
7 Body, Giles 166A b8- w22= b12+ w3- b20+ w17+ 6 985 164
8 Lingham, Richard H 0 w7+ w17+ b4- w10+ b1= w3- 6 290 48
9 Richardt, Mike 184B b19+ w3= b20+ b2- w6= w4= 6 1071 179
10 Rossiter, Alex 173C w12+ b15+ w1- b8- w14+ b6= 6 995 166
11 Jaszkiwskyj, Peter 169B b16- w19+ b5- w6- b21+ w20+ 3 6 906 151
12 Pollyn, Stephen M 143F b10- b13= w7- w21+ b18+ w15= 3 6 979 163
13 Ramesh, Vignesh 161A b3- w12= b22+ w20= b17+ b5- 3 6 973 162
14 Wilby, Robert G 142A b5- w21+ b17- w19+ b10- w16+ 3 6 959 160
15 Fraser, John 174C b20- w10- b19= w22+ b16= b12= 6 842 140
16 Bowley, John R 142C w11+ w4- b6- b18= w15= b14- 2 6 874 146
17 Brusey, Alan W 181A w22+ b8- w14+ b5- w13- b7- 2 6 818 136
18 Dean, Steve K 151B b4- w6= b21= w16= w12- b19= 2 6 825 138
19 Keen, Charles E 145A w9- b11- w15= b14- b22+ w18= 2 6 864 144
20 Senior, Neville N 145C w15+ b2= w9- b13= w7- b11- 2 6 939 157
21 Annetts, Ivor S 154A w2- b14- w18= b12- w11- b22+ 6 793 132
22 Quinn, Martin 144D b17- b7= w13- b15- w19- w21- ½ 6 731 122


  Name Grade 1 2 3 4 5 6 A B C D
1 Brackner, Paul 121 w14= b16+ w13+ b17= w19+ b8+ 5 6 823 137
2 Macarthur, Duncan M 134 b11+ w28+ b8+ w4+ b5+ w3- 5 6 902 150
3 McKinley, Chris TJ 123 w20+ b13= w18= b7+ w17+ b2+ 5 6 864 144
4 Derrick, Neil D 137 w10+ b26+ w5= b2- w13+ b15+ 6 845 141
5 Hunter, Kelvin 120 b24+ w27+ b4= w6+ w2- b9+ 6 864 144
6 Wilson, Matthew R 134 w13- b24+ w16+ b5- w26+ b17+ 4 6 731 122
7 Alexander, Ken RD 128 b27- w22+ b10+ w3- b11= w20+ 6 687 115
8 Behan, Gary 99 w12+ b19+ w2- b18+ b9= w1- 6 775 129
9 Dicker, Nigel 122 w18- b20+ w26+ b15+ w8= w5- 6 696 116
10 George, John Michael 110 b4- w23+ w7- b30+ w12= b19+ 6 706 118
11 Jones, Sidney A 112 w2- b25= w30= b24+ w7= b16+ 6 655 109
12 Kelly, Edmund 123 b8- w29+ b28= w14= b10= w27+ 6 647 108
13 Maber, Martyn J 106 b6+ w3= b1- w21+ b4- w22+ 6 754 126
14 Blackmore, Joshua P 89 b1= b15= w19= b12= w16- b26+ 3 6 704 117
15 Doidge, Charles 121 b17= w14= b27+ w9- b18+ w4- 3 6 650 108
16 Dowse, Alan 113 bye+ w1- b6- w27+ b14+ w11- 3 5 511 102
17 Narayanan, Nandaja 94 w15= b30+ b21+ w1= b3- w6- 3 6 691 115
18 Rickard, Macey J 103 b9+ w21= b3= w8- w15- b25+ 3 6 644 107
19 McGeeney, David B 122 b22+ w8- b14= w28+ b1- w10- 6 562 94
20 Thorpe-Tracey, Stephen F 99 b3- w9- b23+ w25= b21+ b7- 6 557 93
21 Waters, Roger G 116 w29+ b18= w17- b13- w20- b24+ 6 510 85
22 Darlow, Paul 73 w19- b7- w25+ b26- w23+ b13- 2 6 402 67
23 Dyer, Jack 0 w26- b10- w20- b29+ b22- w28+ 2 6 138 23
24 Haines, Matthew A 82 w5- w6- b29+ w11- b28+ w21- 2 6 523 87
25 Hay, Curtis J 0 b28- w11= b22- b20= w29+ w18- 2 6 138 23
26 Hussey, Michael 104 b23+ w4- b9- w22+ b6- w14- 2 6 519 87
27 Mackie, Norman 105 w7+ b5- w15- b16- w30+ b12- 2 6 581 97
28 Welch, Hazel 111 w25+ b2- w12= b19- w24- b23- 6 453 76
29 Pollyn, William D 38 b21- b12- w24- w23- b25- b30+ 1 6 110 18
30 Webster, Alan F 76 b31= w17- b11= w10- b27- w29- 1 6 375 63
31 Tatam, Anthony 119A w30=           ½ 1 79 79

40th East Devon Congress – Final round.

Having played each other in the penultimate round, the two top grades, Jack Rudd and Dominic Mackle, had to face other opposition. Rudd was drawn against Alistair Hill of Battersea, while Mackle faced the perennially solid Steve Dilleigh, not someone you’d want to be playing if you needed a last round win. The Rudd-Hill was over in 90 minutes, making Jack the “leader in the clubhouse”, watching how the other game was going. Eventually Jack had to leave to catch his train home,  and it was soon after that Mackle started to turn the screws and got domination in the centre with free-moving pieces, while Dilleigh’s pieces were forced to edges of the board, from where they had no counter-play.

In the Major Section John Nyman of the famous King’s Head club in London won the Major Section (U-155) and with it the Ken Schofield Salver.

Chess-playing sisters are something of a rarety on the circuit. There are the Polgars, of course, and the Eagles from Liverpool, though they are now inactive because being MPs takes up so much of their time. After that, one might be a little stuck to come up with other names, but here we had the Westcountry Fursman girls; Lynne playing in the Major and Joy in the Minor (U-125). Lynne was a little off the pace in her section, but her sister was on Bd. 1 facing local player, Mark Cockerton of Torquay. She had White, played the Bird’s Opening and happily drew her game to clinch clear 1st and the grandest of the three trophies up for grabs. Joy was truly unconfined in the foyer afterwards, so pleased was she with her success. They were taught chess by their father, and now Joy is based in Clevedon, near Bristol, and Lynne in Tewkesbury.

Here is the full prizelist.

Section Position Name Club Points Prize (£)
Open 1st= Jack Rudd (IM) Barnstaple 170.00
    Dominic Mackle Newton Abbot 170.00
  3rd Lorenz Hartmann Exeter 4 80.00
  GP 169-181= Alan Brusey Teignmouth 14.00
    David Littlejohns Taunton 14.00
    Mark Abbott Exmouth 14.00
  GP <169= Robert Wright Bridport 3 20.00
  GP <169= Jamie Morgan Penwith 3 20.00
Major U-155 1st John Nyman King’s Head 160.00
     2nd= Ben Franklin Battersea 4 90.00
    Neville Senior Sedgemoor 4 90.00
  GP 133-147= John Morrison Tiverton 20.00
    Rob Wilby Plymouth 20.00
  GP <133 Lynne Fursman   3 40.00
Minor U-125 1st Joy Fursman   160.00
     2nd= Reece Whittington Exeter 4 45.00
    Nicky Bacon Sidmouth 4 45.00
    Mark Cockerton TorquayTeignmouth 4 45.00
    Terence Greenaway Torquay 4 45.00
  GP 102-110 James Wallman   4 40.00
  GP <102 Terry Dengler Truro 3 40.00
  Team Prize   Exeter A 14 40.00


The start of Rd. 5 - every table occupied.

Top games: Hill vs Rudd & Mackle vs Dilleigh.

Paulden vs Wensley

Top game in the Major: Nyman vs Neville Senior.

Joy Fursman in pole position at the start of the round.

Apart from Joy Fursman, there were 4 other ladies in the Minor. Here are Frances Brightman (in blue), Hazel Welch (red) and Helen Archer-Lock.

Jack Rudd guaranteed at least a share of the Nat West Cup.

Mackle later caught to add his name to the Nat West trophy.

John Nyman, clearly happy with his prize.

Joyful Joy, winner of the Minor trophy.

Lynne is just as pleased with her sister's success.

East Devon Congress Gets Under Way (27.02.2015.)

There had been a few question marks over the future of this event earlier earlier in the year, but the committee of 2 decided to go ahead anyway, and a late rush of entries took the total above the hundred mark.

By a quirk of fate, the funeral of the event’s first secretary 40 years ago, Guy Sparke, was held a few hours before the start of Rd. 1. and in the opening remarks from the stage, the players were reminded of his contribution to creating and establishing the event on the chess calendar.

There were about 30 byes being taken on the Friday evening, but there were enough present to give the large playing area a busy look.

Dominic Mackle and committee member Mark Abbott had a chance to catch up in the 2 minute wait between the end of the speeches and the 7 p.m. start.

.... and then it was time to shake hands and start the clocks.

General view of the hall.

Bill Adaway of Bridport (l) was a winner at the Exmouth Seniors' Congress in November and could figure in the prizelist here.


Simon Bartlett and Dr. Tim Paulden start their Rd. 1 game.


Somes games in the Minor Section.

A Problem for Alice (28.02.2015.)

Bristol’s Winter Congress ended on Sunday and the winner of the top section was Patryk Krzyzanowski (Yeovil) on 4/5 points, with a 5-way tie for 2nd. Theo Slade (Barnstaple) won the Grading Prize. I hope to have more details next week. Meanwhile, games may be found on the Bristol League website, chessit.co.uk.

In last week’s position, Black finished with the no-nonsense 1…Rg1+ 2.KxR Qh2+ 3.Kf1 Qh1 mate.

WMN reader Jonathan Brewer of St. Columb has written in to remind me that it’s 150 years since the first publication of Lewis Carroll’s Alice In Wonderland. There have been newspaper articles and commemorative stamps issued, so perhaps we should follow suit.

Carroll, or the Rev. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, to give him his full name, was a leading mathematician, lecturing in the subject at Oxford and with a dozen treatises to his credit; a pioneering photographer; an entertaining story-teller and a chess enthusiast.

Although in his first story, Alice encountered a kingdom of playing cards after falling down the rabbit hole, in the sequel, Through The Looking-Glass, she stepped through a mirror to find a new wonderland populated by anthropomorphic red and white chessmen.

The story was designed around a game of chess. This is made clear at the outset when the reader is confronted with a chess problem and the following note: “White Pawn (Alice) to play, and win in eleven moves.”

The following little sketch, which has had to be further foreshortened, is Mr. Brewer’s own commemorative offering.

“Alice and her older sister were trying to decide how to spend the afternoon. Alice was very tired because she had been up late trying to master her French homework. ‘Perhaps you would be content to pass an hour or two with a book, but I’m afraid you do find some books boring. Why don’t you have a quick look through Father’s books to see if you can find one you like, before we go outside. Some will surely be to your taste, Alice’, said the sister as she rose from the sofa, walking over to the standing bookcase that held so many books. Alice joined her and for the next few minutes both sisters browsed over the books in the study trying to find a good, hopefully engrossing, read. Alice spotted a dark blue covered volume entitled Chess Fun. Turning the crisp pages she came across a chess problem that caught her eye. After unsuccessfully trying to solve this tricky little puzzle Alice asked her sister if she could help, for you see the older sister was a far stronger player. After glancing at the problem she said mysteriously “Alice, maybe your French lessons yesterday could help you!”

Black to mate in 1. What did Alice’s sister mean?

Alice's problem - how does Black mate in 1?

Devon’s Inter-Area Jamboree 2015 Results

Four teams of 12 players from the four corners of the county contested Devon’s annual Inter-Area Jamboree, hosted this year by the East, at the Isca Centre in Exeter. There is a total grading limit of 1,650 for each team, which means the county’s middle strength players feature most. The formula for pairing means that each team has 6 Whites and 6 Blacks, and that 3 X 4 players from any team will face other other teams (complicated to explain, but, if unsure, check the charts below).

The playing room was large, with well-spaced individual tables for each game, and was warm, well-lit and totally quiet. The teams were so closely matched that every game would clearly have a bearing on the final result.

Even though they lost their top 3 games, it was the West team (Plymouth) that edged out as winners, a point ahead of East and North. Ben Wilkinson, as Captain of the West team,  received the trophy from DCCA President, Paul Brooks.

The games will appear on the chessdevon website in due course.

General view of the playing area

Bd. 1 game: Tim Paulden vs Brian Hewson.

Former TV presenter, Adam Hart-Davis vs former British U-16 hopeful, Chris Scott.

Wilf Taylor vs Oliver Wensley nearest.

Norman Tidy vs Jon Duckham

West Captain, Ben Wilkinson, receives the trophy from Devon President, Paul Brooks.

  Team A     Team B     Team C     Team D  
  East     North     South     West  
1 T. Paulden 185   B. Hewson 174   A. W. Brusey 176   M. Brownbridge 164
2 C. J. Scott 157   S. Bartlett 169   P. Brooks 154   A. Hart-Davis 161
3 B. G. Gosling 149   I. Annetts 162   A. Kinder 147   B. Medhurst 157
4 O. Wensley 149   K. P. Atkins 157   W. Taylor 142   N. Butland 154
5 S. Pope 144   J. Duckham 152   N. F. Tidy 137   S. Levy 145
6 W. Marjoram 132   S. Clarke 133   J. E. Allen 132   M. Quinn 143
7 E. Palmer 131   K. Hunter 120   N. Mills 132   R. G. Wilby 140
8 D. Thomson 130   R. Dooley 120   M. Hussey 113   N. Hodge 130
9 R. H. Jones 129   M. Dow 115   J. Knott 109   B. Wilkinson 129
10 R. Whittington 123   S. T-Tracey 104   N. Narayanan 101   C. B. Peach 110
11 G. J. Jenkins 111   J. Flanagan 100   M. Cockerton 100   A. Tatam 107
12 S. Blake 102   G. Jones 100   J. Blackmore 100   P. McConnell 102


    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Tot.
A East 1 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ 1 0 0 ½ 6
B North 0 ½ 1 0 1 ½ 1 1 0 0 ½ ½ 6
C South 1 ½ ½ ½ 0 0 0 0 0 1 ½ 1 5
D West 0 0 0 1 ½ 1 1 ½ 1 1 1 0 7













T. Paulden





B. W. R. Hewson




A. W. Brusey





M. S-Brownbridge




S. Bartlett





P. Brooks




A. Hart-Davis





C. J. Scott




B. Gosling





A. Kinder




I. S. Annetts





B. Medhurst




N. Butland





K. P. Atkins




W. Taylor





O. E. Wensley




N. F. Tidy





J. Duckham




S. Pope





S. Levy




S. Clarke





W. Marjoram




M. Quinn





J. E. Allen




E. Palmer





K. Hunter




N. Mills





R. G. Wilby




R. Dooley





M. Hussey




N. Hodge





D. Thomson




R. H. Jones





J. Knott




M. Dow





B. R. Wilkinson




C. B. Peach





S. Thorpe-Tracey




N. Narayanan





R. Whittington




M. Cockerton





J. Flanagan




J. Maloney





A. Tatam




G. Jones





S. Blake




P. McConnell





J. Blackmore


A Shaft of Light on DCCA’s Early History.

Out of the blue, this week, shone a shaft of light on the earliest history of the Devon County Chess Association. It came in the shape of an innocent enquiry from Howard Stead from York, who was sorting out his late father’s belongings when he came across a very nice, boxed Jaques chess set, and was curious as to its origins.

The box


The tell-tale label


As can be seen, the label gives away most of the story, but perhaps some context is required…

In the beginning, the Devon County Chess Association was founded on September 24th 1901, in a blaze of publicity and enthusiasm, in an effort to formalise and foster inter-club chess throughout the county. Its very first congress was a week-long affair held in Barnfield Hall, Exeter, starting on Monday April 21st. At this time the Association had 212 members belonging to 13 affiliated clubs. They make a strange-sounding list to our 21st century ears: Broadclyst, Dartmouth, Devonport YMCA, Exeter, Hatherleigh, Newton Abbot, Plymouth, Teignmouth, Tiverton YMCA, Torridge, Torquay, Totnes and Winkleigh.

The star attraction throughout the week was the American super-star, Harry Pillsbury, who put on a series of demonstrations of his mental powers; standard simultaneous displays, one match against 14 chessplayers and 5 draughts players, followed by demonstrations of “knights’ tours”.

There were two main sections for Devon players – the Championship Tourney and the Second Tourney. There were 16 entries in this lower section, namely, Miss Hunt and Miss M. Hunt (Barstaple); Miss Pigg (Exeter); Rev. G. P. Blomefield (Bickington); Major Rawlins (Bath); Major Sherwell (Honiton); A. Phillips (Appledore); J. Cottle Green (Exeter); Spencer Cox (Honiton); G. F. Pollard (Totnes); G. W. Cutler (Exeter); H. Taylor (Exeter); F. J. Backhouse (Taunton); L. Illingworth; H. E. Bell and W. H. Gundry (both Exeter).

As we can see, Pollard won the section, dropping only a point in the process, half a point ahead of Illingworth.

George Frederick Pollard was born in 1879 to Frederick (33) and Katherine (25) nee Haig, an Edinburgh Scot. At that time they lived at 1, Richmond Terrace, Everton, and George was christened at St. Saviour’s Church, Everton. His father had been born in Taunton and was listed as a physician. By 1881, the family had moved to 52, Rodney St, Liverpool. The 1901 Census records that the family had moved to 21, St. Nicholas Rd, Streathan in London where the father listed as a “medical practitioner”. But George was not with them as by this time he had qualified as a teacher, and had moved to a hostel attached to Totnes Grammar School, at 36 Fore Street. The housemaster was Charles Rea (37) and George Pollard was his assistant, looking after a collection of 14 & 15 year old boarders.

After this, he rather falls off the radar. There is no evidence that he ever married. There is a death of a George Frederick Pollard recorded in Rotherham in March in 1965 aged 84. It would be easy to conclude that this was our George, but there was another person with the same name and age, but that one was a coal miner and married with several children. I can’t tell which one this death refers to.

Mr. Stead didn’t know his father owned this set or how he came by it. There were both arm chair players, playing en famille but not belonging to any club. So how the set came to end up in York may remain a mystery for some time yet. More work necessary.

Peter Hugh Clarke (1933 – 2014) Obituary now complete.

The noted chess player, organiser and author of chess books, Peter Clarke, died on 11th December in hospital after a long illness, bravely borne. He was 81.

This obituary has been put together from several sources, notably, Keith Jones, Geoff Martin, close family members and my own archives and on-line resources. It will continue to expand as new material comes to hand.

Peter was an only child, born on 18th March 1933 to  Olive Gertrude (nee Ekblom) and Hugh Clarke, who had married the previous year. Olive was of Swedish stock while Hugh’s father was William Ferrier Clarke, born in Linlithgow, near the Firth of Forth opposite Dunfermline. But Hugh and Olive’s roots were firmly in London’s East End, Plaistow, West Ham.

Peter with his father in 1935

He was taught to play chess at the age of 6 by his father, and won the London Boys’ Championship in 1950 and 1951, and the SCCU Boys’ Championship in 1950. At this time he was also playing in the Ilford Congress and playing Correspondence chess for Essex, a form of chess in which he would eventually gain the Grandmaster title. In 1953, now aged 20, he was runner-up to Dr. Fazekas in the Essex Championship, was playing Bd. 2 in the Essex Correspondence team. In the Ilford Congress he was 2nd to P. J. Oakley in the Premier Reserves, where the top section comprised Alexander, Hooper, Wade, Fazekas and Alan Philips, all except Hooper to become British Champions. This was his first appearance at the British Championship at Hastings where he came 18th= on 5/11 points, behind Yanovsky. Perhaps more impressive was leading his Ilford team on Bd. 1 to the National Club Championship that year.

He attended the university on his doorstep, Queen Mary College, in the Mile End Road, where he read for a BSc. Part of London University its alumni include such diverse figures as W. G. Grace, Sir Roy Strong and Lord Robert Winston. But the call for a career in science was nowhere as strong as his love of chess, and that is the road he chose to go down. But first, National Service could not be avoided. He spent part of this 2 year interude  in Bodmin in the Intelligence Corps, training as a Russian linguist and translator, and at the Joint Services School for Linguists. This re-ignited his love for north Cornwall, as he had frequently spent holidays there as a child with his parents.

By 1959 he was a regular writer for the British Chess Magazine, reporting at length on prestigious events and analysing games and openings. He and his great friend, Jonathan Penrose, were the two highest graded players in the UK, the only two in the 1b category. He played in 8 Olympiads between 1954 and 1968, and his and England’s record for those years was as follows:- to have lost only 15 of 96 games played at this level is remarkable.

  Yr venue Pos p w d l %
1 1954 Amsterdam  9th / 26 7 2 2 3 43
2 1956 Moscow  8th / 34 12 7 5 0 80
3 1958 Munich 11th / 36 15 2 10 3 47
4 1960 Leipzig 12th / 40 14 4 7 3 54
5 1962 Varna 14th / 37 15 3 10 2 53
6 1964 Tel-Aviv 18th / 48 12 2 8 2 50
7 1966 Havana 21st / 52 13 2 10 1 54
8 1968 Lugano 16th / 54 8 0 7 1 44
      totals 96 22 59 15  


A little seen photo from the Munich Olympiad 1958 - Clarke vs Eliskases: game drawn.

He first came to prominence as a player at the Ilford Club, and while his best performace was at Moscow his playing summit was probably captaining the England team at the 1966 Olympiad in Havana. His record there tells us something of his strengths and weakness as a top player: Played 13: Won 2: Drawn 10: Lost 1. Hartston at the time felt “Clarke’s score on top board is creditable. He is often criticised for his drawish tendencies, but a solid score such as this is a fine achievement against such opposition. It is remarkably difficult to score wins without suffering losses as well, as Lee and Littlewood found to their cost!” It’s easy to forget that his performance at the board must have been affected by (a) playing 13 tiring games (b) being captain for all matches and (c) reporting at length and in great detail for BCM.

This solidity as a player helped him to a splendid record in the British Championship, without ever actually winning the ultimate title, having to be content with being, uniquely, runner-up five times. But he didn’t seem to mind this at all, as he was often edged out by his best friend, Jonathan Penrose. 

During the late 50’s / early 60s Peter had several times dated B. H. Wood’s daughter, Margaret, universally known as Peggy.  They married 6 months later at Holy Trinity Church, Sutton Coldfield, Jonathan Penrose being Peter’s Best Man.  

Peter & Peggy Clarke

It would be easy to think that his book-writing days took over as his playing activities decreased, but this was not the case – he was doing it all at the same time! His reputation as a writer came to equal, if not overtake, that of a player, with titles that were not only highly-regarded at the time of publication, but have stood the test of time.  His subjects included Tal (1961) and Petrosian (1964) two more different players one can cannot imagine. He translated and edited Smyslov’s Best Games (1958) and 100 Soviet Chess Miniatures (1963). First editions of these books published by Bell in their distinctive dustwrappers, can still take pride of place in anyone’s chess library. Another title he worked on was Foldeak’s Chess Olympiads (2nd enlarged ed. 1969).  Two interesting points here: (a) he seemed to hate dustwrappers on books and would quickly get rid of them if they were in any way slightly imperfect,  and (b) in spite of his facility in Russian, constantly translating it into English, none of his daughters ever heard him speak a word of Russian in the house.

After marriage and the birth of their first daughter, Salli, in 1966, he felt the urge to move to the westcountry, and they moved to a small house in Milton Dameral, where a second daughter, Penelope, was born. Peter started a chess club in the village which eventaully reached a membership of over 20, almost unheard of for such a small place.

They then moved to the village of Bush, near Stratton, where in 1977  their 3rd daughter, Susie, was born. He also became British Correspondence Champion that year. In 1979, he found his dream home, called Chapel House, in the hamlet of Shop near Morwenstow. Built c. 1800 it has the appearance of an expansive rectory, with large high-ceilinged rooms. The adjacent farm buildings are Grade II listed. In his 1855 novel Westward Ho! Charles Kingsley borrowed the name Chapel House, but applied it to another house in the story. 

In 1971 the world in general was agog at the prospect of the Fischer-Spassky match, and Britain in particular was on the brink of a chess explosion. An expression of this was the response to his first organised event, the 1st Barnstaple Congress. It had been put on by Clarke and a group of 5 local friends, who called themselves The Hexagon. There were 70 entries, all lumped together in one large Swiss, 22 of whom were graded between 180 – 226. Grandees like Golombek and Wood were joined by young Turks like Botterill, Bellin, Gerald Bennett and Danny Wright. In the event it was won by an almost unknown local schoolboy, Peter Waters, who played none of the above, except Golombek. The following year the entry rocketed to 164, and its continuing success was assured. The Hexagon functioned as a group for about 10 years until Peter suffered a cerebral haemmorrhage in 1983, forcing him to give up such intensive activity. 

For a time, he ran bookstalls at local congresses, notably Paignton, Exeter and Frome and was happy to chat to grassroots players. He found that postal chess was better suited to a slower life-style and he competed at the highest level, winning the Grandmaster title for postal chess, as did his friend, Jonathan Penrose.

After his stroke he had more time for his other interests. Sports he followed included golf, cycling, F1, tennis, darts, snooker, athletics et. al. He collected books, not only on chess, but on his other interests including science, astronomy and philosophy.  His study had floor-to-ceiling shelves on all free walls, all stacked with books.

1996: Peter is playing his old friend and adversary, Dr. Jonathan Penrose in his study at Chapel House. The board is the one presented to him by Fidel Castro at the end of the Havana Olympiad - each team captain received one. Photo courtesy of Keith Jones. Peter's long-time unofficial chauffeur.

He was the most modest of men, with no discernible vanities or conceits, and a most hospitable host when entertaining visitors to his vast collection of chess  books. 

He leaves his wife, Peggy, 3 daughters and 8 grandchildren: Isaac, Reuben, George, Madelaine, Heidi, Gemima, Grace and Frank.

The funeral took place in Poughill Cemetery, near Bude, and was attended by a good number of relatives, local friends and chess acquaintances.

The secular ceremony was led by the Celebrant, Alison Timms. Firstly his mother’s ashes were interred, followed by Peter’s coffin.

Then five of the grandchildren each read out a verse from Peter’s favourite poem, that he had had read to him by his father. Its philosophy is sometimes summarised by the saying “Eat, Drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die”, but there is also an element of the Latin maxim Carpe diem – sieze the day, and in this repect that is exactly what Peter did.

The position of the grave site, overlooking St. Olaf's

Alison Timms leads the graveside ceremony, with Peggy seated, with stick & blanket.

The grandchildren circulated with small baskets containing sprigs of rosemary and flower petals, and those present were invited to drop them onto the coffin.


There were a number of written tributes, some read out at the gathering at Morwenstow, other sent later.

The following was sent by Peter’s great friend, Dr. Jonathan Penrose, who was unable to attend due to transport problems, and is probably the one that deserves most attention, as it reveals his own personal slant on Peter’s career. Perhaps the last word should go to him…

In Memoriam: Peter Hugh Clarke 1933 –  2014:  

Peter Clarke was a very good friend of mine for over 60 years. Amazingly, over that long period of time I cannot recall a single cross word between us. We first met in the early 1950s as members of the same chess teams, particularly the Essex county team, but also the London University team for a short period of time. 

In those days (the early to mid 1950s) there seemed to be a comparative paucity of ambitious young chess players in England, so it was our good fortune that we were often selected to play for England in the prestigious chess Olympiads, played in different countries every two years. It was a wonderful experience for both of us. 

I think it was the Olympiad held in Moscow in 1956 which stood out as Peter’s most successful tournament of this kind. The English team reached 8th place overall at the end, a fine performance for its time. Peter’s contribution was a magnificent 79% (scoring 7 wins, 5 draws and no losses). 

The other members of the team including myself thought that the standard of Peter’s play had progressed very well, and that future selection of Peter’s place on the English team was likely to be assured for many years to come.  

In retrospect, it would become clear that Peter’s standard of play had just about reached its peak at this time, and that he performed well back in England in tournaments in 1957 and 1958.  

I was personally impressed by a game he played and won against Alexander in the 1957 British Championship. Hugh Alexander was widely regarded as England’s strongest chess player since the end of the Second World War, and this game was somehow symbolic that a younger generation of players might be beginning to supersede the older ones.  

However, at about this time, Peter also started to display a budding talent for writing books on chess, and eventually wrote some classic works in the genre. This was fine, but I felt that in so doing, he might have made himself less prepared to play chess as aggressively as he had done formerly. As a result, he tended to become more “drawish” in his play, and therefore began to relinquish the chance to win a big chess tournament.  

In later years, Peter began to show a great interest in solving chess problems. This is an area of chess where the supreme subtleties of the game can best be explored. Peter was a good solver and played in a few problem solving competitions, I believe just for fun. 

On personal visits to Chapel House over the years, I remember the great pleasure of discussing with Peter the beauty of some modern and classical chess problems – and such memories in turn will remind me of how much I will miss him in the future. 

Jonathan Penrose

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