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Coast v Country Match 2012

The Exeter & District League’s annual “Coast vs Country” match took place on Tuesday 12th June at the Manor Hotel, Exmouth, by the kind invitation of the Management. This event started in 2003 as a celebration of the League’s 50 years’ existence and has been held ever since. The Coast team comprises players from the clubs of Exmouth, Sidmouth and Seaton, while players from Exeter and Tiverton make up the Country team. There is always a problem equalising the numbers in both teams and there has to be a bit of flexibility, with one or two players helping out the opposition, but the matches are usually very closely fought.

This year, the recipe was complicated somewhat, by a late influx of juniors, and after the teams were evened out, the even later withdrawal of John Morrison, left 11 yr old Guy Susevee without an opponent. Nevertheless, he ended up having probably more chess than anyone else in the room, as the early finishers gave him several friendly games.

Looking at the team lists on paper beforehand, the Coast team were bracing themselves for a sizeable loss, as they were outgraded by 6 points per board, on average, but it didn’t work out like that, with the Coast eventually winning by one of the bigger margins in the series 11.5 – 6.5.  9 year-old Reese Whittington set the ball rolling by beating his opponent in 8 moves, and it went on from there.

The final details were as follows:

  Coast Grd       Country Grd  
1 Stephens J. K. 175 Exmouth ½ ½ Hewson, B. W. 186 Tiverton
2 Abbott M. V. 170 Exmouth 1 0 Annetts, I.S. 156 Tiverton
3 Wensley, O. E. 165 Exmouth ½ ½ Keen, C 155 Exeter
4 Shaw, M 160 Exmouth 0 1 Duckham, J 155 Tiverton
5 Gosling, B. G. 159 Exmouth ½ ½ Dobber, P 149 Exeter
6 Belt, M 131 Exmouth 1 0 Marjoram, W. 148 Exeter
7 Scott, C. J. 130 Exmouth ½ ½ Atkins, K. P. 148 Tiverton
8 Jones, R. H. 131 Exmouth ½ ½ Body, G 147 Exeter
9 Palmer, E 125 Exmouth 1 0 Waley, J 132 Exeter
10 Hodge, F. R. 122 Exmouth 0 1 Amos, J 130 Exeter
11 Badlan, T 104 Exmouth 1 0 Knowles,J 125 Tiverton
12 Ebanks, O 105 Exmouth 0 1 Maloney, J 120 Exeter
13 Blake, S 100 Exmouth 1 0 Scholes, R 114 Exeter
14 Porter, L 88 Seaton 0 1 Thomson, D 114 Exeter
15 Haines, M 88 Seaton 1 0 Maynard, A 100 Tiverton
16 Trott, T 92 Ex. Juniors 1 0 Aldwin, B 98 Tiverton
17 Whittington, R. 85 Ex. Juniors 1 0 Murray, T 80  
18 Susevee, Greg 84 Sidmouth 1 0 Finch, T. 64  
19 Susevee, Guy 88 Sidmouth          
  totals 2214   11½   2321  
  average 123       average 129  















In recent years this event has been combined with the presentation of trophies to teams who have won their leagues during the season. This year it was decided to hold that back until the AGM in September. However, one presentation was made; this was by Devon’s match captain, Brian Hewson, to his Player of the Year, Mark Abbott, who had won all his 5 games for the county during the season. As neither would be at Devon’s AGM on the following Friday, it seemed appropriate to take this opportunity.


Mark Abbott (r) - Devon's Player of the Year 2012.

Bds 6 (nearest) to 1.

Bds. 11 (nearest) - 16.

Bds 17 & 18.

Hodge vs Amos & Palmer vs Waley.

Top game: Stephens vs Hewson.

Coast team's top players.

Annual Prizegiving & Coast vs Country Match

Thirty-six league players of varying strength gathered at the Manor Hotel, Exmouth for the annual prizegiving, to be followed by an 18 board match between the clubs of  the coastal towns against those situated inland.

First of all, John Stephens accepted the Division I Cup on behalf of the Exmouth Club, having won it the week before (see account). Jonathan Waley, as captain of the Exeter team  was presented with the Div. II cup, followed by John Knowles who won Div III with the Tiverton Ravens. (See photographs below)

The match followed immediately and it wasn’t long before the Coast team established a small lead of 1 or 2 points as the results started to come in, with a good number of draws. Eventually, the Coast had a 2 point lead with 3 games still in progress, though Abbott and Rogers had their backs to the wall in losing endgames. So with one game still in play, the scores were level, and Obie Ebanks, a new arrival at the Exmouth Club, had a small advantage against schoolboy S. Keat, but was having to face a strong attack, when Keat’s flag fell but neither noticed in the excitement. With Keat’s clock 3 minutes past flag-fall, Ebanks forced the win of a rook and the game was up. Keat resigned not having realised he’d already technically lost minutes earlier, though, of course, the win has to be claimed.

Full details:-

Bd. Coast Team Grd     Country Team Grd
  1 John Stephens 181 ½ ½ Tin Paulden 174
  2 Mark Abbott 177 0 1 Dave Regis 166
  3 David Toms 159 ½ ½ Sean Pope 159
  4 Ray Shepherd 129 ½ ½ Peiter Dobber 158
  5 Dave Rogers 150 0 1 Chris Southall 138
  6 Steve Murray 143 ½ ½ Jon Waley 132
  7 Giles Body 132 1 0 John Knowles 133
  8 Oliver Wensley 130e 1 0 Charlie Keen 131
  9 Alan Dowse 132 0 1 Will Marjoram 120
10 Bob Jones 138 0 1 John Maloney 120
11 Tom Badlan 120 1 0 Dave Nagy   80
12 Hazel Welch 115 ½ ½ Richard Scholes 108
13 Robert Ryan 114 ½ ½ Geoff Jenkins 100
14 Fred Hodge 111 ½ ½ Louis Ten-Holter 99e
15 Roy Curtis 101 ½ ½ Tomas Trott 96e
16 Obie Ebanks 100e 1 0 Sam Keat 90e
17 Les Porter 93 1 0 Chris Ebanks 95e
18 Dave Aramy-Bibby 78 ½ ½ Alan Brinkley 89


John Stephens (Exmouth) receives the Div. 1 cup from Brian Aldwin.

Jonathan Waley receives the Div. II cup.

John Knowles is truly delighted with his Div. III trophy.

Paulden and Stephens reprise their encounter of the previous week.

Hodge vs Ten-Holter (nearest)

General view.

General view#2

E. Devon Congress – Final Day

The final day began with the sole leader, Steve Homer, having to take a half-point bye in the morning, which allowed Jack Rudd and Mark Taylor to draw level. Rudd and Homer were drawn together on top board, while Taylor floated down to play Kryzanowski. The fact that Rudd, in addition to his 29 point grading superirity, also had the white pieces gave him a big advantage. He soon had a crushing Q-side attack that forced Homer’s resignation, and guaranteed Rudd at least a share of 1st prize. Taylor’s game was much closer and longer, but eventually he built up a strong attack down the g-file that forced his opponent to give up material in order to avoid mate. However, another chance arose soon after and Taylor had levelled with Rudd. Thus they shared the prizemoney (£170 each), but Rudd got the Steve Boniface Cup on tie-break using sum of opponents’ scores. However, Rudd had long since departed the hall and will have to wait for another opportunity to get his hands on it, possibly the West of England Congress over the Easter weekend.

Dominic Mackle had a fairly comfortable game against Dr. Adam Woodruff and his win took him to clear 3rd.

In the Major Section Jamie Morgan of Exeter came clear 1st. Although he lives in the city, he has yet to visit their club. He was born in Guernsey and learned his chess in the far west of Cornwall, and should now prove an asset to East Devon chess.

The Minor proved a triumph for Christine Constable, who, with her husband John, runs the bookstall and provided all the equipment. It was the first clear 1st in her chess career, and it is a moot point as to whether she is the first lady player to win outright any section at this event. Someone should consult the record books. Unfortunately, the trophy hadn’t been returned by its previous winner, (no names – no pack drill) so she, too, will have to wait until Easter to receive it.

The full details were:-

East Devon Congress   4th – 6th March 2011  
Open   Grd Club Pts/5 Prize
  1st= J. Rudd 210 Bideford £170
  M. V. Taylor 181 Crowthorne £170
3rd D. Mackle 194 Newton Abbot 4 £80
GP: U-177 A. W. Brusey 175 Newton Abbot £30
U-163 A. Waters   Rainham 3 £30
Major  (U-155)          
1st J. Morgan 144 Exeter £160
2nd J. Nielsen 142 Wimborne 4 £100
  3rd= G. Body 140 Exeter £14
  R. Desmedt 149 Wombwell £14
  J. G. Gorodi 150 Newton Abbot £14
  T. Greenaway 139 Torquay £14
  A. Waldock 143 Guildford £14
GP: U-145 A. Farthing 144 Worcester 3 £15
  R. Wilby 133 Plymouth 3 £15
U-133 C. Keen 131 Exeter 3 £15
Minor  (U-125)          
1st C. Constable 102 Coulsdon £160
2nd J. Wallman 108 Isle of Wight 4 £100
 3rd= S. Ross u/g Shifnal £14
  T. Slade 103 N. Cornwall £14
  M. Hill 124 Liskeard £14
  J. Carr 101 Portsmouth £14
  R. Scholes 108 Exeter £14
GP:  U-111 K. Sherlock 102 Yeovil £30
U-102 G. Jenkins   95 Exeter £30
Team Prize          
1st Exeter        
2nd South Hams        
 3rd= Barnstaple        

 Although the event passed pleasantly enough, there remains to question of falling numbers – a drop of c. 15 per year over the past few years is unsustainable without some adjustments to the formula. The Committee will be considering the possiblities – whether it be a new cheaper venue, an increase in entry fees, cutting out the Friday evening round, the formation of a Friends of the Congress fund, similar to Paignton, or a more rigorous “selling” of the event, if that is possible. They are not alone in this – many events are having to take stock in the wake of falling numbers.

Meanwhile, here are some scenes from the final round:- 

Rudd vs Homer gets under way on Bd. 1.

Mackle with Black managed to beat Woodruff and come clear 3rd

Christine Constable on her way to a personal best.

The youngest competitor, 10 yr old Theo Slade, won a Grading Prize.

Mark V. Taylor looking after the Cup for Jack Rudd.

Exeter resident, Jamie Morgan, winner of the Major Plate.

Christine Constable looking pleased with her win in the Minor - very pleased!

36th E. Devon Congress – Day 2

After 3 rounds of the congress, only one player is left with a maximum score in the Open; Stephen Homer of Exminster. There are four players a half point behind – these are Alan Brusey, Steve Dilleigh, Mark Taylor and Jack Rudd, the latter two having drawn against each other in Rd. 3.  Tomorrow’s winner must surely come from this group.

All five have a Devon connection in common: Brusey and Rudd live in the county, while Dilleigh was brought up in Plymouth and Taylor was a student at Exeter University.

36th E. Devon Congress

The 36th East Devon Congress got under way at the appointed time of 7 p.m. tonight with a few words of welcome from the Secretary, Alan Maynard. The overall entry was 15 down on last year, which was, in turn, 15 down on 2009, a worrying trend for the Committee to consider at their post-congress meeting. Strangely, while the Open and Major sections held up well, it was numbers in the Minor Section that were down. By and large, most of the players here were familiar faces, the usual suspects, one might say; if the congress is to continue in its present form, it must attract many more newcomers.

Paul Helbig  of Bristol returned to defend the trophy he won last year, hopes dented by the unexpected appearance of  IM Jack Rudd, hot foot from the Brighton International that finished mid-week, and clear favourite here. Other contenders for a prize in the Open include John Wheeler, Graham Bolt and Dominic Mackle.

General view of the playing hall.

Open Section: Rd. 1 Bd. 1 Rudd vs Woodruff.

Dave Rapkins (formerly Exmouth) greets Alan Brusey, former Devon Champion.

Tim Paulden, (rt: Exeter League Secretary) welcomes Oliver Wensley, ungraded newcomer.

Ray Chubb, Secretary of the Torbay Congress, gets started.

10 yr old Theo Slade of North Cornwall gets in some practice before his England U-11 team trials next month in Liverpool.

West’s Winning Ways In Devon Jamboree (16.01.2011.)

This annual event is scheduled for a Sunday in January, when teams of 12 players are invited from each of quarter of Devon. It usually involves three teams, but this year all areas were able to raise a side, and they met at Exeter, at the Isca Centre, a comfortably appointed indoor bowls and bridge club, recently built on the site of the old County Show Ground. The North team is drawn from the membership of Tiverton and Barnstaple, South comes from the various clubs in Torbay, while the East comprises clubs in the Exeter & District League and the West comes from the membership of the large Plymouth Club. The overall population base of each area is approximately equal at 250,000, so to that extent it tends to make for a close contest.    

Players are matched according to the Hutton Pairing system, which ensures that although the teams are mixed up, the formula guarantees that, for example where 4 teams are involved, four players from any one team will play each of the other teams, and of those four, 2 will have the white pieces and the other two being black. And, where there is an even number of teams, all players will be matched with someone on the same board number as themselves. It’s complicated, but it works and it’s fair.    

Before the start, the organiser, Alan Maynard, was the only person to have seen all the team lists and ventured that the winners would be either East or West, but no-one was fooled by that prophesy as anything can happen in this kind of match – and usually does.    

Certainly, the East started well, winning two of their 1st 3 games, while the West lost their 1st games, but from then on there was never more than a point between them. In the end, it came down to the very last game to finish, David Toms of the East against Richard Pollock of the West, Toms needing to win for East to share 1st place. In the early endgame, Toms had blundered away a bishop, having seen the trap in earlier analysis, but had two extra pawns for it. It came down to a bishop + 3 vs 5 pawns. Toms fought gamely to give himself a chance, and indeed both queened a pawn. But Pollock was able to force them both off immediately and was left with a solitary pawn free to get his 3rd queen. So the matter was settled by the last pawn in the last game to finish - it was that close.   

Summary Chart.

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Total Pos.
East 0 0 1 0 1 0 1 1 ½ ½ 0 1 6 2nd
North 1 1 ½ 1 0 1 0 ½ 0 0 0 0 5 4th
South 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 1 3rd
West 1 1 ½ 0 0 1 1 0 1 1 1 0 7.5 1st


Bd   WHITE Grd     BLACK Grd  
1 E1 J. Stephens 181 0 1 J. Duckham 165 N1
2 S1 A. Clarke 164 0 1 D. Twine 170 W1
3 N2 S. Bartlett 162 1 1 W. Ingham 164 S2
4 W2 R. Pollock 164 1 0 D. A. Toms 159 E2
5 E3 P. J. Kennedy 151 1 0 A. Billings 148 S3
6 N3 S. Clarke 155 ½ ½ M. Stinton-B 149 W3
7 S4 R. Wilby 133 0 1 I. Annetts 155 N4
8 S4 E. J. Smith 143 1 0 B. Gosling 156 E4
9 S5 J. E. Allen 140 1 0 J. Morrison 152 N5
10 E5 J. S. Murray 143 1 0 K. Bloodworth 122 W5
11 N6 J. Knowles 133 1 0 G. Body 140 E6
12 W6 A. Tatam 127 1 0 J. W. Clarke 129 S6
13 E7 R. H. Jones 138 1 0 R. Dooley 114 N7
14 S7 N. F. Tidy 129 0 1 R. Greenhalgh 117 W7
15 N8 S. T-Tracey 114 ½ ½ F. Sugden 127 S8
16 W8 C. Peach 114 0 1 O. Wensley 120 E8
17 E9 J. Dzenis 120 ½ ½ K. Hindon 124 S9
18 N9 B. Aldwin 111 0 1 J. Ariss 111 S9
19 W10 D. Scantlebury 112 1 0 B. Connor 88 N10
20 S10 G. Bramley 110 ½ ½ H. Welch 115 E10
21 S11 J. Doidge 106 1 0 J. Wheadon 88 N11
22 E11 F. R. Hodge 111 0 1 J. Dean 109 W11
23 N12 A. Barclay 35 0 1 W. Fairbairn 101 E12
24 W12 C. Zisimides 97 0 1 N. Mills 93 S12

The Top 4 Boards Get the Show on the Road.


Kennedy vs Billings on Bd. 5 Make Their Opening Moves


All 4 Whites Here Won their Games; Allen, Murray, Knowles & Tatam.


General view of the action - John Duckham in the foreground



The last and decisive game to finish - Pollock vs Toms


Organiser Alan Maynard (r) presents the trophy to Tony Tatam, Captain of the West team.



Exmouth 1-3 Tiverton in Div. 3

Exmouth’s 2nd match of the season and 1st at home was in Devon’s 3rd Division, the Schofield Cup, where their opponents again were Tiverton. In short they lost again by a similar margin to the 1st encounter in the Newman Cup.

  Exmouth Grd.     Tiverton  Grd.
1 B. G. E. Gosling 156 0 1 I. S. Annetts 155
2 R. H. Jones 138 0 1 J. Morrison 152
3 J. Dzenis 120e 0 1 J. Knowles 133
4 O. E. Wensley 120e 1 0 E. A. Maynard 104
    534 1 3   544

Jones was the first to fall, blown away in 20 moves by a brilliant sacrificial attack. In the position below, Morrison (W) ignores the attack on his queen and plays 16.Nxe6.  Probably Black’s best reply was 16…Qb6 (not spotted), covering the fork on c7 and leaving White with 2 pieces en pris. Black, in fact, played 16…Qxc3, causing White momentary panic before he found 17.Bxb5! threatening mate and there is little Black can do.

White to play and win.

Oliver Wensley temporarily restored parity when his opponent had a senior moment in the following position. After a game in which both sides were level throughout, White played 36.Rf3?? thinking he was threating a back rank mate but missing the fact that his bishop is dropping.

White to move

 Juris Dzenis got his Queen trapped in the centre and struggled on gamefully but Knowles was too canny to let things slip. At the very end, Brian Gosling found himself as White in this position, but desperately short of time. He played 30.Nd5? which releases the Black Queen to come to d3 forking rook and knight. In fact, 30.Qxa4 would have almost forced the exchange of queens and left him with 2 connected, passed pawns, enough to win the game, all other things being equal.

White to play and either win or lose.

Annetts plays 2...Bf5

Maynard vs Wensley gets under way on Bd. 4

Exeter League – 2010 AGM & Final Tables (21.09.10.)

The League’s A.G.M. was held at Exeter School on Monday evening (20.09.2010).

President Dave Beckwith took the Chair, accompanied by Secretary Ken Derrick (Sidmouth). Also present were Hazel Welch and Les Porter (Seaton); Tim Paulden & Jonathan Waley (Exeter); Brian Aldwin (Tiverton); Bob Jones (Exmouth).

Ken Derrick stood down as League Secretary and Tim Paulden agreed to take over with help from Ken in the early months.

Silverware had already been presented at the Coast v Country match in June, but the final tables were tabled.

              Div. 1         a        b        c       d        e  Pts
 a Exeter Rooks   XXXX   2½ – 1½   4 – 0   2½ – 1½     6
 b Exmouth A   1½ – 2½   XXXX   0 – 4 def   0 – 4 def     0
 c Met Office A   0 – 4   4 – 0 def   XXXX   1 – 3     2
 d Sidmouth A   1½ – 2½   4 – 0 def   3 – 1   XXXX     2
              Div. 2            
 a Exeter Pawns   XXXX   3 – 1   3 – 1   0 – 4 2½ – 1½   6
 b Exmouth B   1 – 3   XXXX   def   1 – 3 2 – 2   1
 c Met Office B   1 – 3   def   XXXX   2 – 2 ½ – 3½   1
 d Seaton A   4 – 0   3 – 1   2 – 2   XXXX 2½ – 1½   7
 e Tiverton Ravens   1½ – 2½   2 – 2   3½ – ½   1½ – 2½ XXXX   3
            Div. 3            
 a Exeter Gambits   XXXX   2 – 2   1½ – 2½   1 – 3     1
 b Seaton B   2 – 2   XXXX   ½ – 3½   2 – 2     2
 c Sidmouth Bishops   2½ – 1½   3½ – ½   XXXX   2 – 2     5
 d Tiverton Magpies   3 – 1   2 – 2   2 – 2   XXXX     4
           Div. 4            
 a Exeter Juniors   XXXX   2 – 2   1½ – 2½   4 – 0 def     3
 b Exeter School   2 – 2   XXXX   2 – 2   0 - 4     2
 c Seaton C   2½ – 1½   2 – 2   XXXX   2½ – 1½     5
 d Sidmouth Castles   0 – 4d ef   4 – 0   1½ – 2½   XXXX     2

Coast vs Country Match 2010

This annual match originated in 2003 as the League celebrated its 50th year with a match between the clubs situated on the coast (Exmouth, Sidmouth and Seaton) and those sited inland (Tiverton and the various clubs in Exeter).

After a gap of one year, it was decided to make this Coast vs Country formula an annual event, at the Manor Hotel on Exmouth’s Beacon.

This year Ken Derrick took over as Coast team Captain, with Brian Aldwin assembling the Country team, aiming at 20 players each. In the  event, 2 players failed to show and after a little judicious shuffling of players it settled down as a 19-a-side match. On paper the teams were closely matched from top to bottom.

Play was preceded by the prizegiving, with Brian Aldwin doing the honours.

Exeter captain Tim Paulden receives the Div. 1 Cup from Brian Aldwin.

Alan Dowse receives the Div Cup on behalf of Seaton.



Sidmouth member Tom Badlan receives the Div 3 cup.

Les Porter of Seaton receives the Div. 4 trophy.

Once play got under way, it wasn’t long before the first results came in and there was never more than a point between the two teams. Eventually, with the top two games reaching a climax, the teams were tied at 8.5 each. On Bd. 2, Mark Abbott won his game to put the Coast team in an unbeatable position, but Derrick and Waters were involved in a breathless time scramble and the clock could have decided matters. Derrick, however, managed to make about 30 moves almost instantaneously and snaffling some vital pawns in the process. With seconds left on both clocks, a dead drawn position was reached, the draw making the score 10 – 9 in the Coast’s favour.


  Coast Grd. Club     Country Grd Club
1 K. Derrick 184 Sid ½ ½ S. Waters 170 Exe
2 M. V. Abbott 174 Exm 1 0 D. Regis 165 Exe
3 J. Underwood 165 Sea ½ ½ T. Paulden 160 Exe
4 B. G. Gosling 159 Sid 1 0 S. Pope 156 Exe
5 D. A. Toms 156 Sid 0 1 I. S. Annetts 156 Tiv
6 D. R. Rogers 149 Exm ½ ½ K. Atkins 145 Tiv
7 R. H. Jones 140 Exm 1 0 C. Southall 145 Exe
8 A. Dowse 130 Sea 0 1 C. Keen 135 Exe
9 R. Warburton 125 Sid 0 1 J. Waley 124 Exe
10 T. Badlan 122 Sid ½ ½ J. Maloney 121 Exe
11 M. Belt 119 Exm 1 0 J. Knowles 121 Tiv
12 P. Hills 117 Sid 0 1 R. Scholes 115 Exe
13 R. Curtis 105 Sea 1 0 G. J. Jenkins 103 Exe
14 L. Herzberg 104 Sid 0 1 B. Aldwin 100 Tiv
15 P. Leask 103 Sid 0 1 E. A. Maynard 99 Tiv
16 L. Porter 88 Sea 1 0 A. Brinkley 96 Tiv
17 R. Cubbon 70 Sid 0 1 W. Marjoram 100 Exe
18 B. Marsh Ug Sid 1 0 J. Royle Ug Exe
19 D. Arany-Bibby 50 Sid 1 0 J. Rayson 47  
  Total     10 9      

Exeter & District League – A Brief History


The Exeter & District Chess League

A Brief History.

 The year was 1953. Everest had just been conquered and the Coronation heralded a new Elizabethan Age, and though much remained to be done, Exeter was slowly rising from the ashes of the Blitz. It may have been this air of renaissance, both national and local, that gave rise to a rethinking by some local organizers of the structure of chess activity in the city. Efforts had been made before to set up a league based on the city, but now the moment seemed propitious and an exploratory meeting was held that summer to firm up on plans and prepare a letter to be circulated to all local club secretaries. 

On 25th September 1953, twelve of the twenty-two members of the Exmouth Chess Club met at the Seagull Hotel for their A. G. M., including among their number Mr. E. Jones-Bateman, the British Amateur Chess Champion way back in 1892. They gave the idea of a new local league their full consideration at the end of their normal agenda, and nominated the 32 year old Denys Bonner to attend the next meeting of the nascent League, four days hence, which he agreed to do. 

The meeting was held on 29th September at the Exeter Chess Club, where Bonner joined L. E. “Ted” Hessé,  (Civil Service), Dennis Gray, (Exeter School) G. R. Cottew, T. J. Maddick and S. P. Gibbons of the home club. They agreed that a League be formed and on a set of rules. Cottew, clearly the driving force behind the move, was elected the first President and Gibbons the Secretary. It seems probable that the League was intended to provide opportunities for middle to lower-graded players. It would have been easy, for example, for Exeter’s top few players to have won the League for decades at a time, but this was not the intention. In fact, in the first season Exeter’s team was listed as “Exeter Moyle”, and later as Exeter “C”, that is, equivalent to their Devon’s 3rd Division team. 

Less than a fortnight later Bonner reported back to the Exmouth Management Committee, reading out the rules as he had received them. After a short discussion, they unanimously agreed to join the League. Denys Bonner proposed, and it was unanimously agreed, that W. G. Womack be appointed Match Captain for the Exmouth team in the League. 

This process at Exmouth was doubtless replicated to some degree in the other six invited clubs, Exeter,  St. Luke’s & St. Loye’s Colleges, Exeter School, the Civil Service and the University College, not then a fully-fledged university, who all responded positively. A second League meeting was held on 20th October at which the list of participating clubs was finalized and a fixture list drawn up. 

The very first match, held within days of that meeting, was between St. Loye’s College and Exeter, with the College winning 3½ – 2½ and Rex Willis chalking up the first of his many League wins. 


Rex Willis took part in the League’s very first match and was involved for the next 48 years. Seen here at the Beacon Seniors Congress 2001, shortly before his death in March 2002.

 The League got under way shortly after that, and under the leadership of G. T. Womack, the Exmouth Club sailed through to become the inaugural League Champions. The trophy was presented on 26th April by the Sheriff of Exeter, Alderman W. G. Daw. But their moment of glory was short lived. Just weeks after the end of the season, and with the Exmouth Club in its annual summer recess, Womack, Bonner and another club member were enjoying a friendly chess evening at Womack’s home when he suffered a major stroke and died the next morning. On top of this, Denys Bonner, probably the best home-produced player Exmouth ever had, was moved to Somerset by his employers, the Westminster Bank, and he never played for Exmouth again. He went on to become Somerset Champion many times. 


Denys Bonner in his prime.

 Using a press release from League officer,  S. P. Gibbons almost word for word, J. E. Jones summed up the League’s first season in his weekly chess column in the Western Morning News as follows:-

 WMN  18th May 1954:


 Last  Autumn, for the first time, a chess league was formed at Exeter to include clubs in the city and within a radius of ten miles.

 Several  previous  attempts  to establish such a league had failed, and although this season was not without  its  initial  difficulties, chiefly incomplete fixtures, seven clubs participated in a most congenial competition.

The first champion of the league is the Exmouth club, which thus becomes the first holders of the trophy presented by the League President, Mr. G. R. Cottew. 

Exmouth thus completed a fine double in the Mamhead and Cot­tew  Cups, and altogether  this season has won ten and drawn one out of 11 matches. This splendid achievement was due in no small measure to the match captain, Mr. G. T. Womack, and it was with the deepest regret that players throughout Devon heard of his recent death. 

A team from Exeter School pressed the champions hard, and the credit for the formation and success  of this team must go largely to its captain, Dennis Gray, who achieved the best individual performance  not  only  for  top board, where he played, but for any board. 

It is hoped other schools in or near Exeter will consider enter­ing teams next season, and the Hon. Secretary Mr. S. P. Gibbons, of 45, Roseland Crescent, Heavitree, Exeter, is prepared to receive applications for membership from outside the ten-mile radius. The final league positions are: 










1 Exmouth







2 Exeter School







3 University College







4 Exeter Club








5 Civil Service








6 St. Loye’s College








7 St. Luke’s College








One noticeable thing from this final results chart is the number of unplayed matches. These days, we tend to look back on an imagined golden age when all clubs were organized efficiently and defaults almost unheard of. However, maybe there was a late start, or it may have been the novelty of the experience, but for whatever reason, only the Civil Service fulfilled their fixture list, while the college teams defaulted severalmatches. Though perhaps we shouldn’t wonder.

 Jones correctly identified Dennis Gray as one of the driving forces behind the early success of the Exeter School team. His enthusiasm for chess had originally been kindled through having been persuaded to enter the Diamond Jubilee Congress of the Plymouth Chess Congress in 1948. He was by some margin the outstanding junior in the West of England, winning the WECU Junior Championship in 1954 and 55. Now in his final year at Exeter School, he not only led his team to the Runner-Up spot in the League’s first season, but after he had left to go up to Cambridge, he handed the torch to his brother who had the pleasure of getting his team to first place for two successive years. 

The following season, the University team dropped out and the remaining six founding clubs did battle again, and J. E. Jones reported briefly on the outcome. 

WMN June 14th 1956: 

The Cottew Cup, which went to Exmouth in its first season, has been won this season by the Exeter “C” team. The record for the best individual performance, however, goes to Mr. F. Tregellas of St. Loye’s College, the runners up, who won his game in all five matches. It is hoped that next season the league will expand and already Exeter YMCA has promised to enter a team.

 Final league positions:- 










1 Exeter “C”








2 St. Loye’s College








3 Exmouth








4 Civil Service








5 Exeter School








6 St. Luke’s College








 WMN:  June 19th 1956: 


To mark the end of a third successful year for the Exeter and District League, the annual  presentation  ceremony was held last Tuesday at the premises of the Exeter Literary Society  in  Southernhay  East, where the Exeter Club also has its headquarters. The Cottew Cup for local chess supremacy was presented by the League’s Vice-President, Mr. L. E. Hessé, to the Exeter School  “A” team’s captain, R. J. P. Gray, a worthy follower in the footsteps of his brother Denis.  Shortly afterwards, Mr. Hessé himself received the trophy for the championship of Exeter Civil Service Club. 

In the league competition, the Civil Service got away to a brilliant start with full points from its first three matches, but could only achieve one draw from their last three.  Similarly, the Exmouth club, second at the halfway stage with five points from four matches and League Champions in 1954, was unable to add to its score. 

These vicissitudes resulted in the only unbeaten side, Exeter School “A”, whose previous best perform­ance was its second place in 1954, going ahead to win the title. 

R. R. Cockcroft, a member of the victorious team, put up the league’s best individual performance by equalling Denis Gray’s 1954 score of four and a half points from five games. The record in this respect, however, remains five out of five by Mr. F. Tregellas, of St. Loye’s College, last year.

 Message Sent To President

The College again finished in second place, as last year, only a point behind the leaders: its sole loss was to the Civil Service, which finished in fourth position for the third successive year, nosed out of third place on games average by Exeter C, the 1955 champion. 

The meeting sent its best wishes for a speedy recovery from his prolonged illness to the President of the League and donor of the trophy, Mr. G. E. Cottew, who has done so much to promote the cause of chess in Exeter. 

It is hoped that other clubs or schools in or near Exeter will consider entering teams next season. The normal radius is ten miles, but the hon. secretary, Mr. S. P. Gib­bons, 45, Roseland Crescent, Exeter, is always prepared to receive appli­cations from further afield. 

His energetic organisation has played a major part in success of the League since its inception, and he is to be congratulated on being one of the few who realise the publicity value of constant liaison with the Press. 

Final positions:                                                                             

    P W L D F A Pts
1 Exeter School “A” 6 3 0 3 17 13 9
2 St. Loye’s College 6 3 1 2 16 14 8
3 Exeter Club 6 3 2 1 28 12 7
4 Civil Service 6 3 2 1 16 14 7
5 Exmouth 5 2 2 1 15 19½ 5
6 Exeter School “B” 5 1 3 1 9 15 3
7 St. Luke’s College 6 0 5 1 8 22 1


 At a committee meeting on Friday 1st March 1957 it was decided to instigate an Individual Championship. The early rounds were to be played very soon thereafter and a final was to be held at the Burlington Restaurant. This was held on May 23rd between Bill Bailey and P. Maytum. The minute book records “After a ding-dong battle Mr. Bailey proved the winner. There were several spectators to this match”. During the following year, Bill Bailey’s club mate at the Civil Service Club, A. Loosemore, made a special trophy for this competition in the form of a shield and presented it to the League. Although Bailey was its first winner, the first official presentation was at the League AGM on 30th September 1958 when A. R. B. Thomas presented it to the second winner R. J. P. Gray, a pupil at Exeter School. IndividShield

Above: Loosemoor’s shield made for the League’s Individual Championship.

Below: Bill Bailey, Chairman of the Civil Service Club presenting their club championship trophy to the 1957 winner, A. G. Williams.


WMN: April 30  1956: 


For the second season in suc­cession youth has triumphed in the Exeter League, the leadership of which has been con­vincingly retained by Exeter School A team. The victors lost only to Exeter C, who this year finished runners-up ahead of St. Loye’s, all the other positions remaining unchanged. 



P W L D F A Pts
1 Exeter School “A” 6 5 1 0 21 9 10
2 Exeter “C” 6 4 2 0 15 15 8
3 St. Loye’s College 6 3 2 1 17 13 7
4 Civil Service 6 3 2 1 16 14 7
5 Exmouth 5 2 3 0 11 14 4
6 Exeter School “B” 5 1 4 0 9 16 2
7 St. Luke’s College 4 0 4 0 6 14 0

 Eight players remain in the League Individua1 knock -out championship the quarter-final pairings being as follows, the first name­d player having the white pieces.

             E. W. Bailey (Civil Service)                 v.             F. Tregellas           (St Loyes).

                J.  Keary       (Exeter)                            v.             P.  Quan                 (Exeter School)

                K. Etheridge (St. Loyes)                      v.             H. M. Murray        (Exeter).

                R. Mitchell   (Civil Service)                 v.             P. Maytum             (Exeter School)

 Mr. A. R. B. Thomas, of Tiver­ton, will present the Cottew Cup to the league  leaders  at  the Burlington Restaurant on May 20 at 7.30 p.m. Two other interesting spectacles will also be open to the public that evening. There will be a match “Champions v. The Rest”, while league players not engaged in this will be entertained by Mr. Thomas in a simultaneous display. 

J. E. Jones had also correctly identified another stalwart of the infant league, Frank Tregellas, Principal of St. Loye’s College, a very well-known training centre for disabled people. He was a pleasant-natured man, himself physically disabled to the extent that he was forced to stand to play with the aid of two arm supports. He and Rex Willis formed the backbone of the St. Loye’s team for many years. 

News of the success of the Exeter League reached other parts of the county who sought to emulate it. J. E. Jones, DCCA General Secretary, WMN columnist and a forceful personality and central figure in Devon chess, was instrumental in ensuring a new league centred on Torbay got off the ground. By the summer of 1957 plans were laid for the formation of the Torbay League, based around the Paignton, Teignmouth, Torquay and Totnes clubs. By October 5th the first match between the two leagues was played, though it was an inauspicious start to the series for the Exeter League, as Jones himself was happy to report.

 WMN: September 30th 1957:


 The long-awaited encounter between the Exeter and District League and  its Torbay counterpart, which took place at  Paignton on Saturday, served a two-fold purpose.  Not only did it inaugurate an annual eve of season series, but it also signalled the return of the Paignton Club after an interval of many years to its former headquarters at the Conservative Club, Palace Avenue. The match, which apart from county contests was one of the largest to be staged in Devon for some time, produced some stirring struggles. There was only one quick finish, when in the bottom board game Nd6 gave smothered mate on the 17th move, but eight of the other 16 games went the full distance.                           

  Torbay League     Exeter League
1 J. E. Jones 1 0 E. W. Bailey
2 D. Eggington 1 0 K. Etheridge
3 R. S. Thynne ½ ½ J. J. Griffiths
4 F. Grix 1 0 P. Ware (def.)
5 G. C. Walker ½ ½ H. Rigby
6 S. T. Harvey 1 0 L. E. Hessé
7 P. A. Ogilvy 1 0 A. R. Willis
8 W. H. Heywood ½ ½ A. E. Coates
9 R. R. Mosely 0 1 J. Turner
10 M. Bailey 1 0 R. Phillips
11 F. Robinson ½ ½ A. Young
12 Col. F. Moysey ½ ½ A. E. Rigby
13 S. Coulton 1 0 W. White
14 A. Szjyko 1 0 I. Smith
15 E. W. Wood 1 0 F. Nott
16 G. R. Perrow 1 0 S. G. Vosper
17 J. B. Wroe 0 1 T. V. Aitken


12 4  

 The following year, J. E. Jones reported a different result in the second match of the series.

 WMN: October 19th 1958:


On Saturday at  St. Loye’s College, Exeter, a representative team from the Exeter and District League avenged its defeat last year in the first match of the series by scoring a 10½ – 7½ victory over the Torbay League.

This 20-board match, the largest played in Devon apart from county matches, produced  11  decisive games, seven draws, and two games for adjudication.

At top board, L. C. A. Lewis began with 1, P-K4, P-K4; 2, Kt-­KB3, Kt-QB3; 3, B-B4, and had worked out some prepared varia­tions against the usual 3… B-B4 and 3… Kt-B3, but his Torbay opponent J. E. Jones confounded his plans by adopting the stodgy Hungarian  Defence  3… B-K2, eventually gaining the exchange and remaining with confident expectations of a win.

The other unfinished game was at second board, where W. Church also had something up his sleeve, which had to stay there when Torbay League president, I. F. Grix, surprised him with a Bird’s Opening.   Later the Exmouth player tried to enliven the pro­ceedings by sacrificing a piece for two pawns and an attack, but at the close he seemed in some danger of running short of ammunition.

 The scores were: 


Exeter League




Torbay League



L. C. A. Lewis Exeter



J. E. Jones Totnes


W. Church Exmouth



F. Grix Torquay


R. Ware Exeter



R. S. Thynne Teignmouth


F. Tregellas St. Loye’s



G. C. Walker Teignmouth


D. L. Hawkes Exeter



S. T. Harvey Teignmouth


J. J. Griffiths Exeter



A. Marriott Torquay


A. E. Coates Exeter



R. K. Mosely Torquay


S. J. Hazelwood St. Loye’s



Col F. Moysey Paignton


K. Etheridge St. Loye’s



M. Bailey Totnes


E. W. Bailey Civil Service



A. Wilkinson Totnes


F. W. Turner Exeter



Rev. H. C. Percy Teignmouth


Cmdr. Fletcher Exmouth



A. B. Cole Teignmouth


L. E. Hessé Civil Service



H. Preston Paignton


A. F. Nicholson Exeter



A. Szyjko Teignmouth


H. Rigby Exeter



E. W. Wood Teignmouth


D. Tout Civil Service



H. L. Smith Teignmouth


E. Soper Civil Service



J. Lee Paignton


A. R. Willis St. Loye’s



E. Lake Paignton


R. Phillips Civil Service



C. Floyd Dartington


B. Knott Exeter School



T. F. Thynne Teignmouth





Of those 38 players, only three were known to be still active in the area in 2003; Davis Tout and Eric Soper in Exeter and Trefor Thynne in Torbay. Trefor was still in primary school at this time, but still has his game score to hand. 


 Above: The only success ever enjoyed by St. Loye’s College was in winning the Cottew Cup in 1959. Deputy Mayor, Alderman P. A. Spoerer seen her presenting the cup to Frank Tregellas, watched over by League President, Ted Hessé

 So October 1959 was good month for the League, but something else happened that month that had repercussions – P. E. “Philip” Walker enrolled at St. Luke’s College for a two year Teacher Training course. Philip was the son of E. G. “Ernie” Walker of Weston Super Mare, who was very active as a player and organiser of the West of England Championships. St. Luke’s had a chess team, but thus far it had been consistent in coming last in the League. During his first year, the only other player of significance at the College was T. G. “Geoff” Clack of the Plymouth Club, a retired police officer who was on a mature students’ course. So Philip’s impact for that season was as an individual, and J. E. Jones recorded his surprise at the new boy among the Devon “Establishment”. 

WMN     May 24th 1960


Nineteen-year old Philip Walker, of St. Luke’s College, Exeter, has won the knock-out section of the Devon county championship and will now meet the holder A. R. B. Thomas, of Tiverton, in a match for the title. Walker played brilliantly in his final game against Plymouth Champion,  R. M. Bruce,  whose favourite  Sicilian  Defence  fell apart in face of the teenager’s king-side assault. 

White: P. E. Walker. (St. Luke’s College) Black: R. M. Bruce, (Plymouth)  [B72]

Devon Championship, May 1960

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 g6 3.d4 Bg7 4.Be2 cxd4 5.Nxd4 Nc6 6.Be3 Nf6 7.Nc3 d6 8.f3 0–0 9.Qd2 Be6 A move not seen before in this position, but often played in commoner variations where White has already moved O-O-O instead of Be2. In the present position it is clearly not the best since 9…d5! (also playable but more dubious against the 0–0–0 line) is here sufficient for complete equality. 10.g4 Ne5? The only possible counter to White’s threats is a thrust in the centre, and 10…d5 is therefore still indicated. The text move not only allows White’s next move (at the moment prevented by …NxN) which immediately gives a strategically won game, but also exchanges the knight for White’s useless king’s bishop, which, at the moment, is merely obstructing the usual later threat Qh2.  11.Bh6 Rc8 12.h4 Nc4 13.Bxc4 Rxc4 Necessary was … [13...Bxc4 allowing for the possibility of ...fxg after the inevitable. 14.h5 gxh5 15.Bxg7 Kxg7] 14.Bxg7 Kxg7 15.h5 gxh5 16.0–0–0! Qa5 17.g5 Nd7 18.Rxh5 Rfc8 19.Rdh1 Rxc3 20.Rxh7+ Kg8 21.Rh8+ Kg7 22.Nxe6+ fxe6 23.Rxc8 1–0 

This notable win took Walker into a final against Andrew Rowland Benedick Thomas, Maths master at Blundell’s School, Tiverton. But Thomas, one of a small group of players to have scored over 100 points in the British Championship, had a trick or two up his sleeve. 

WMN: June 21st 1960:


 The Devon champion, A.R.B. Thomas, of Tiverton, needed only nineteen moves to complete the two games of his title match with P. E. Walker of St. Luke’s College, Exeter. The teenager’s morale was shattered by a ten-move defeat in the first game, in which he received a painful initiation into the snares of Tattersall’s trap, and he proposed a draw after only nine moves in the second, a Reti-Dutch type, thus conceding the match to Thomas.

White:  P. E. Walker, (St. Luke’s College, Exeter). Black: A. R. B. Thomas, (Tiverton)

Four Knights’ [C48]

Devon Championship final, May 1960

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bb5 Bc5 a trappy move, but inferior to the usual 4…Bb4; or 4…Nd4.  5.0–0 0–0 6.Nxe5! Re8 7.Nxc6? Correct is 7.Nf3 7…dxc6 8.Bc4? (he still has equality with 8.Be2 Nxe4 9.Nxe4 Rxe4 10.d3 Re8 11.c3) 8…Ng4! 9.Qf3?? Ne5 10.Qe2 Bg4 resigns. 

The young Walker perhaps couldn’t have been expected to know it but Thomas had tried the very same trap against the great F. D. Yates in the 1926 British Championship in Edinburgh, the only difference being that Yates had sidestepped the trap and smashed the 21 year old Thomas up for his impudence, before going on to win the Championship that year. 

At the start of the 1960 /61 academic year, Philip was joined at St. Luke’s by a small number of players, just enough to make up a team of five players. One was J. S. “John” Simpson, a local lad who had attended Exeter School, been involved in Devon junior chess and knew the local geography; another was S. G. “Stuart” Walker, who had been a promising Warwickshire junior, while the third was myself, who, although almost 20, had never played in a competitive match. In our first few weeks at college, Philip whipped us into shape, explaining the unwritten rules of match-play, playing us quick games to assess our strength, as none of us had the numerical grades, so useful these days, and generally instilling a competitive edge and ambition. Under Philip’s expert guidance, sure enough, the only five chess players at St. Luke’s College won the 1st Division Championship that year, while he won the League’s Individual Championship.

 A World Record Set – the Blogger recalls….. 

Meanwhile, it’s time for a short diversion from the facts and figures of the League. In March 1961, a bizarre Rag Week stunt in the middle of the High Street, brought chess to the attention of the Exeter public as never before, (or since). 

At the beginning of March 1961, knowledgeable 2nd Year students at the College started moving among us, talking about the approaching Rag Week. Coming from a Midlands pit village, this phenomenon was quite beyond my experience, but it seemed that during this particular week any whacky idea was legitimised by virtue of it being fund-raising for charity. At this particular moment in the history of education, it should be remembered that most of the 2nd Yr students were the last to have done National Service, had possibly been round the world in the services and seemed very worldly-wise to us 1st Yrs who had mostly come straight from the 6th form. Simply put, they were men, we were still boys. For example, at a Rag Week brain-storming session, one of these ex-National Service students volunteered, as a Rag stunt, to parachute into the middle of St. James Park during an Exeter City match. It was given serious consideration by the Rag Committee but eventually rejected on the grounds that, in the event of an unexpected  crosswind, the parachutist might land on the adjacent Exeter – Waterloo line! 

Keen to keep our end up in the light of this level of thinking, we came up with the idea of playing chess in the High Street. Thinking on the hoof, our small group of mates decided that I would be the sole player challenging all-comers, and they agreed to form a rota of friends to stay around so that I would have a guaranteed opponent at all times, allowing continuity to be unbroken. We got a blackboard & easel from somewhere so that the score could be displayed and an eye-catching poster was done.

That Monday morning we carted all the equipment down into the city centre. In view of the cold and possibility of rain, we set up the table under the Burlington Arcade where it meets the High Street, and play commenced. Shoppers would cast a quizzical glance in our direction before hurrying on by with an expression of either amusement or, more likely, disdain. In those days, bus transport was used far more than today, and all double-deckers passing through the city stopped right alongside where I was playing, frequently packed with passengers, upstairs and down, most of whom would spend a few minutes gazing incredulously at the street entertainment before them. All this helped to get the event noticed on that first day. 

A couple of times Rag Committee officials stopped by to see how it was going, and were pleased with several features of the activity; it demanded nothing of them, was right before the public gaze and was ongoing. 

I can’t recall exactly at what stage it was decided that the event should carry on beyond the one day, but as evening approached, there seemed no reason why it should stop necessarily, as long as I was prepared to carry on and the rota of friendly opponents was maintained. So continue we did. Evening turned to even chillier night but we kept at it. 

Next morning, even the earliest commuters in the morning rush hour may have been surprised to see us still there. Busloads of workers and hoards of shoppers must have had a feeling of deja vu as they tried to work out in their minds whether we had made a very early start or might possibly have been there all night. Rag Committee members were now delighted with the continuity and urged us to keep it going as long as possible. Friends brought food along and occasionally I allowed myself an occasional visit to the public toilets next to Dingles, when it was my opponent’s move, of course – otherwise there were no breaks. 

Tuesday went much as Monday, with the difference that by now, members of the public were beginning to take notice, to the extent that more people would actually take up our challenge to take on all-comers and would come up for a game. Tuesday night was unforgettable as more people would stop by for a game and now, deprived of sleep for a second consecutive night, staying awake at the board was becoming a serious problem. 

Commuters and early shoppers had now become used to seeing me there and looks of withering scorn were being replaced in the main by knowing amusement. The public were now in on the joke. The Rag Committee, delighted at the way this unlikely event had taken off, now concerned themselves as to how it should end.  Should I be offered dubious stimulants in an attempt to press on further into the week or should I quit now while ahead? Eventually it was decided that it should end at 3 p.m. on the Wednesday afternoon when the maximum number of people were still about. They organised an open-top Morris Minor to carry me, standing on the back seat, the length of the High Street, waving to the crowds like some returning World War hero. The fact that most of the crowds were now studiously ignoring the procession merely added to the incongruity. Alongside me on the back seat was the blackboard proclaiming 52 hours of non-stop playing. 

Back at college I slept for 18 hours. It was not until several days later, taking stock of what had happened and wondering whether we had inadvertently set some kind of record that a friend suggested we contact Ross & Norris McWhirter, the twins who were then establishing the Guinness Book of Records as an institution. I wrote and told them what we had done. They replied by return saying there was no such thing as a Marathon Chess Record, but they would be delighted to accept this as the first. It appeared in the next edition, the 10th, dated November 1962. 

Thus it was that the inaugural World Marathon Chess Record set in the middle of Exeter High Street, right outside the Burlington Restaurant in the Burlington Arcade, where the League held its AGMs at that time. The record has of course been broken many times since, but probably all done indoors. 

Then, suddenly it seemed, Philip Walker was gone, leaving the rest of us to try and remember his advice and carry on the best we could.  The only new player of significance to emerge in the College at this time was J. H. “John” Jones of Gosport, Hampshire, but he was inclined to spend some of his time at the Exeter Club. Yet somehow, against all logic, St. Luke’s retained the Cottew Cup for two more years, making a remarkable hat trick of Championships, 1961, 1962 & 1963 – a triumph of over-achievement. 

Without the guidance of a numerical grade and no previous experience of the world of competitive chess, I had often wondered just how good Philip was, behind his self-confident exterior. Unknown to us at the time, he went on to nearly qualify for the British Championship in 1962, eventually succeeding the following year. Also in 1963, he was involved in a play-off against D. V. “Dennis” Mardle for the West of England Championship, having won the Swiss Section involving 20 players, which included the likes of John Wheeler, Dennis Gray, Denys Bonner, Ron Powis, John Cock and his own father, Ernie. To have achieved this, Philip’s grade must have been around the 200 mark. 



 Above: At a prizegiving in May 1961, Dr. F. L. Turner presents the Cottew Cup to R. H. Jones of St. Luke’s College, and the Individual Championship to Philip Walker, also of St. Luke’s, with Runner-Up, J. J. Griffiths (right) looking on. Extreme left is L. E. “Ted” Hessé. The facilities of the restaurant in the Burlington Arcade were made possible by League Secretary E. Sherriff. Unfortunately, he died that summer and this was the last time this venue was used for chess meetings. The AGM that October was held at the YMCA when Frank Tregellas began his long stint as President. 

During the early 1960s more teams joined the League, namely Tiverton, Hele’s School and the YMCA.

The 5th annual Inter-League match with Torbay held in October 1962 was not without some interest towards the end. The reporter (and team captain, Torbay President and WECU Grader) J. E. Jones was never far from controversy; it followed him everywhere. This is how he wrote it up in the WMN.

 WMN October 9th 1962:


 There was some confusion at the end of the fifth annual match between the Exeter and Torbay Chess Leagues at Teignmouth. Exeter had led throughout by a narrow margin, and as the end neared were three points ahead and looked certain to take the lead in the series. Then Tiverton’s B. M. E. Butler lost on time to W. Heywood, of Teignmouth, and anxiety began to replace the confident looks on the visitors’ faces.

 When time was called there were three games for adjudication, but since only one of these favoured Torbay their opponents were bound to secure the point necessary for victory, in a thoroughly irregular manner Devon President, A. R. B. Thomas, and Torbay President, J. E. Jones, took upon themselves the task of adjudication, and all went well until they reached the board nine game, where A. B. Cole, of Teign­mouth, had a won ending against D. L. Hawkes, who appeared to be Exeter’s match captain.

 The acting, unpaid  (and apparently unwanted) adjudicators naturally adjudicated this game a win for Torbay, and the remaining game, where J. J. Griffiths had two knights and a rook against. K. Mosley’s queen, was adjudged a loss for the same side, making the final result Exeter and District 16, Torbay 14.

 A little later it emerged that the same result had been reached, but honour had been saved by agreeing both games draws in a package.

 However, the Torbay President, who is also West of England grader, had the last word by insisting that for grading purposes the adjudications should stand so the truth emerged triumphant over diplomacy. 


Torbay League



Exeter League


1 J. E. Jones ½ ½ D. J. Richards Exeter
2 R. S. Thynne ½ ½ A. G. H. Winterbourne Exeter
3 G. C. Walker 0 1 L. C. A. Lewis Exeter
4 P. F. C. Burke 0 1 A. Beighton Exeter
5 R. K. Mosely ½ ½ J. J. Griffiths Exeter
6 W. H. Heywood 1 0 B. M. E. Butler Tiverton
7 Rev. H. C. Percy 0 1 J. H. Jones St. Luke’s
8 A. Darwin 0 1 M. O. Simpson Exeter School
9 A. B. Cole ½ ½ D. L. Hawkes Exeter
10 H. Preston 1 0 S. G. Walker St. Luke’s
11 F. L. Angell 0 1 W. Church Exmouth
12 Col. F. Moysey 0 1 Dr. R. Chatervedi Exeter
13 S. R. Fleming ½ ½ F. W. Turner Exeter
14 F. J. Robinson 0 1 Miss J. Passmore Exeter
15 W. J. Lee 1 0 R. H. Jones St. Luke’s
16 E. W. Wood 1 0 H. A. Murray Exeter
17 J. M. Baguley ½ ½ E. W. Bailey Civil Service
18 T. F. Thynne 0 1 J. W. S. Bedford Tiverton
19 J. Kingston 0 1 J. Pogodin Exeter
20 D. C. Chamberlain 1 0 T. Radmore Exeter
21 R. Liggitt 1 0 L. E. Hessé Civil Service
22 P. S. Short 1 0 R. Phillips Civil Service
23 D. Prothero 1 0 A. Young Exeter
24 H. Baguley 1 0 A. Elsdon  
25 A. J. Harris 0 1 A. R. Willis St. Loye’s
26 E. Atkinson 1 0 T. Rotherham  
27 W. Bird 0 1 A. L. Sanders  
28 A. G. Legg 0 1 A. Wilkin  
29 F. Jordan 1 0 J. Chater  
30 T. Walker 0 1 C. Crouch  
    14 16    




 Exeter Rooks won the Cottew Cup in 1964 and retained it the following year. Here is their Captain J. J. Griffiths being presented with it by Alderman P. A. Spoerer at the League’s 1965 A.G.M. at St. Loye’s College.

Soon after this, the spotlight fell on the University whose series of strong teams won the Championship for a whole decade uninterrupted between 1965 and 1975, as well as several years after that. In 1968 they achieved the first League double, winning the 1st and 2nd Divisions. Several of their players went on to achieve great things in chess after graduation. For example, R. V. M. “Richard” Hall became British Postal Chess Champion in 1998, and K. J. “Kevin” O’Connell became a well-known chess writer, editor, organiser and player. 

In 1970, Fred Hodge of the Exmouth Club took over as League Secretary as an emergency measure, as the original officer, a University student who had been elected at the A.G.M. had not been active. In addition to the existing commitment to an annual match against Torbay, Fred inaugurated a short series of matches with the North Devon League, after sounding out their League Secretary, Mrs. Joan Parker. She was keen and had the support of her Chairman, the redoubtable businessman Ralph Newman. In 1972 and ‘73 they played four matches on an increasingly grand scale. All teams were limited to players below a grade of 120. 

In November 1972 a 20 board match was played, resulting in a 14 – 6 win for Exeter. The next match, 12 months later, was reported in the Western Morning News by Ken Bloodworth, who had taken over the chess column in 1963. 


A chess match held in Exeter at the weekend made history as the largest of its kind ever held in Britain. It was a 40 board match between the Exeter and North Devon leagues. No county in Britain had ever staged a match of this size. The match was restricted to players with a grade of 120 or less in order to give young and promising players experience of match conditions. A welcome at the Springbok Hall, St. Loye’s College, was given by the League President, Frank Tregellas. Every team in the Exeter League was represented. The result was a win for Exeter by 22 – 18 points.


Above: Scene from one of the Exeter v North Devon League matches. North Devon players facing camera with Bob Lock of Ilfracombe on extreme left. 

The next match was on an even greater scale, comprising 50 players on each side. Fred Hodge organized a coach to get his team up to North Devon, but they were over-stretched as five players failed to turn up, and they went down 26½ – 22½ – North Devon were a player down as well. However it was a considerable achievement for North Devon to field 49 players all under 120. 

The late 1970s and early 1980s saw the beginning of a process whereby a number of founder members folded up for one reason or another. St. Luke’s had enjoyed their moment in the sun in the early 60s, but after a few more years gave up the struggle for existence in 1968. The Civil Service Club called it a day and the 1981 – 82 season was their last.

 The St. Loye’s team did not survive the shock of the sudden death of Frank Tregellas in 1979. He had been President for 17 years without a break and the League’s debt of gratitude was expressed with a minute’s silence at their AGM in October 1979. 

The University team itself had thrived for decades with many very strong players and a few that achieved great things in chess after graduation. For example, R. V. M. “Richard” Hall became British Postal Chess Champion in 1998, and K. J. “Kevin” O’Connell became a well-known chess writer, editor and player. But a point came when even the university chess club folded for want of any student willing to take on the responsibility. One of the last University stars was B. D. “Ben” Beake, then in the late 1980s graded around 200, and who recently acquired the Candidate Master title. Efforts made later by Ivor Annetts of Tiverton to revive the club met with little response, and he gave up. 

Although the loss of these clubs was regrettable, the keen resident players merely transferred to the Exeter Club, and any keen student players joined for the duration of their 3 year stay in the area. This decline in the number of clubs did not necessarily mean a decline in the number of teams involved in the League. Exeter, for instance, entered teams in all divisions, sometimes two in the same section, using the names Exeter Rooks, Knights, Bishops etc. and when they ran out of pieces they formed Exeter Stauntons.

Part of the League’s charm has been the emergence from time to time of fringe clubs, who, though they may have failed to last the half century long haul, at least brightened the scene for a while. Exeter College had a team on and off for several seasons, John Hayward being their strongest player. Honiton could occasionally raise a strong team, calling on players like Bob Lee and Kevin Hills, and they won the 1st Division twice in the 1980s. From time to time, there have been teams from the following: Ottery St. Mary, Nadderwater, the Coaver Club (County Hall), the International School, Morchard Bishop, Axminster. Seaton became regular competitors when they entered the 2nd Division in 1972, winning at their first attempt and going straight up to the 1st Division. 

In 1987 there was an application from North Devon to enter a team called the Flying Teapots. There was some discussion in committee as to whether their application should be accepted, but with the number of local clubs decreasing there seemed little alternative but to accept them, on the condition they played all their matches away. Their leading light was Nick Down, whose chief claim to fame was that he had once won the British Ladies Correspondence Chess Championship. The story at the time was that he had entered that competition under a pseudonym as a prank, and in fact got as far as winning the Championship before the British Chess Federation discovered his true identity and banned him from their tournaments for some time. However, it was sufficiently amusing to make the national press at the time. He could call on Barnstaple stalwarts like Roy Phillips, Roy Shapland, et al. They won the Championship in their first year and the next, 1989, before folding up. 

The mid-70s saw  another bright comet crossing the skies above Exeter and lighting up the chess scene for a few seasons. Twenty five years later, Steve Boniface finally felt free to tell the inside story. 


The Ring Of Bells chess team was formed in 1976 following an idea by Derek Cooper with a little inspiration from Jon Kelway. At the time Derek was living near the village and courting a young lady who later became his devoted wife. They discovered that the Ring of Bells pub in Cheriton Fitzpaine was being run by a friendly Australian called Bill Loan who swapped outback stories with Derek, kept a separate cellar full of genuine imported Aussie Lager, and who found difficulty in telling the time towards the end of the evening. This suited Cooper and Kelway well, though in fact in the early days it was darts, and not chess, that occupied their drinking hours. Even today the inn has a remarkable scooped ceiling to allow Jon’s “dew-drop” shots to reach the board. 

After a time Jon and Derek started to play the odd game of chess there, and it seemed a most hospitable venue for a club. One incentive was that the inn offered a more informal atmosphere than the often stuffy attitude of some clubs. The landlord was fully agreeable, and soon other players came along to play the royal game; Steve Boniface, Chris Bellers, Richard Lingham, Bob Lee, Steve Owen, and a few others who have since passed into history. Among them were Mike Boag, who had once been overall match captain at Exeter, and a useful player with one eye called Kevin Donnelly. The latter’s wife, called Lorna, had a magnificent bosom and won the only game she played. 

It soon became apparent that here was potentially a team who could challenge any other in the Exeter and District League, and so a formal application was made. In view of the strength of the side, they asked to be placed in Division One, in order to compete with the giants of Exeter and the University But the ruling fathers did decree that no side had the right to bypass the normal procedures, and that the Ring of Bells must start, like all others, at the bottom of Division Two alongside Exmouth B and Nadderwater. 

History shows that this was a mistake, as the side easily walked to the second division championship in the first season, whereupon the ruling fathers did sorely grumble and complain that they were too strong for Div. Two and should have been in Division One. 

After two seasons in the league, our friendly landlord decided to return to Australia with his family and the ownership of the tavern passed to a manager not totally chess-friendly and it was decided to seek other accommodation. As luck would have it, Jon Kelway had relations in Cullompton who ran another hostelry called The Showman. It seemed invidious to retain the ‘Bells’ name in the circumstances, so after some discussion, the team adopted the dreadful title of The Abominable Showmen. Fortunately their sojourn here was for one year only, after which they moved back into the city, to a new home at the Horse and Groom public house in Heavitree. In view of the now peripatetic nature of the club, it was now decided to adopt a more universal name, not tied to the destination – The Pawnbrokers. Whether it was the change of name or venue is uncertain, but that year the team lifted the Division One Cup. However, that was to be the climax for the breakaway team, for 1980 – 1981 was their last; some players left Exeter, some got married, and others realised that the glory days were over.


Above: The Pawnbrokers team with the Cottew Cup in 1980.

Seated (l – r): Steve Boniface; Bob Lee; Steve Owen; Derek Cooper. Standing: Chris Bellers & John Kelway.



The 1990s were dominated by Exeter teams, with either the Bishops or Rooks winning the Cottew Cup every year and the Knights and Pawns winning the Turner Cup several times.  In 1996 a new division was started to provide opportunities for the various junior clubs that were operating at Exmouth, Tiverton and Exeter and Isca Juniors. The most successful of these was the Isca club, started by Dave Scott. They first won that division in 1998 but within three years had won the 1st division, and to prove that was no fluke, won it again in 2003. Their success was based on the talent of three excellent juniors, including Dave’s own son Robbie and Alex Therrien.

The East Devon Congress. 

Mention should be made at this point about the creation of the East Devon Congress. It was the brainchild of Ken Schofield, a member of the Exmouth Club who had retired to the area in 1969 and had become a positive, progressive influence throughout the county. At the 1974 A.G.M. he announced his intention of setting up a congress, and sought to change the League’s name to the “East Devon League”, in the hope that the close association between the League and the Congress would be “a natural and obvious one.” The motion was defeated, though the President, Frank Tregellas, suggested the point might be raised again once the Congress was established. It was, but again failed, this time on the President’s casting vote.

The 1st Congress went ahead in March 1975 at Exeter University. Other than close physical proximity, the congress was never formally associated with the League in the same way that the Paignton Congress was and is associated with, and ultimately answerable to the Devon County Chess Association. It had been Schofield’s idea and he went ahead with it independently, although Ken was more than happy to keep the League fully informed of its progress at the A.G.M.s. That is not to forget that the League made a cash donation in the first few years, without which the Congress would have been in the red. Also, the Congress Committee members, like Steve Boniface and Guy Sparke, were all active players and organisers in the League, and to this extent it can be argued that the Congress grew out of the League.  


Above: Ken Schofield introducing A. R. B. Thomas, at the opening ceremony of the 3rd East Devon Congress. Entries Secretary Guy Sparke in attendance. Peter Clarke in the background preparing his bookstall.

Below: A general view of the 3rd East Devon Congress, though probably specially set up for the benefit of the photographer, as (a) everyone is smiling happily and (b) Guy Sparke is playing his own son Phillip. Nearest table shows, Ralph Heaseman (White) against Malcolm Horne (Exmouth), the two Sparkes, Chris Bellers and Jon Kelway.



Above: An early section winner, flanked by Plymouth juniors Neil Crickmore (left), future WECU Champion, and Chris Archer-Lock, future British U-175 Champion..


Although the Congress’s original venue at the University was a good one, it became inconvenient, and moved to its current home at the Corn Hall, then St. George’s Hall, right in the city centre. The spaciousness of the playing area, and its closeness to all the facilities the city can offer, have made this a consistently popular event. In its early years there was always the opportunity to rub shoulders with Grandmasters like Dr. John Nunn or the young and rapidly-improving Michael Adams, but later on a policy decision was made to cut out these sharks from gobbling up all the big prize-money, and it became a “Stars Barred ” event, with a grade ceiling of about 200.


In the early days oaf the Congress there was one unusual occurrence. During the Friday evening 1st round, a small crowd had gathered around one of the top boards where one of the players had fallen asleep in his chair and no-one seemed too sure about what to do for the best. After 15 minutes he woke up and continued to play as if nothing had happened. The year was 1983; the sleepy player was Michael Adams, aged 11, exhausted after a day at school and charging up from Falmouth in time to start his game. 


 In March 2003 the League Secretary, Brian Aldwin, came up with the idea of a match between an Exeter team and another representing the District part of the League, involving between 20 and 30 boards. The challenge was accepted and a date set and venue agreed – Tuesday 10th June at the Exeter Community Centre. Soon after, it was realised that this was almost 50 years to the day since the League was first mooted and the proposed match would make a superb commemoration of this fact. Brian arranged for the Mayor of Exeter to open the match and splendid refreshments were laid on. 

This became an annual event known as the Coast v Country match; i.e. the Exmouth, Sidmouth & Seaton clubs against the rest. It is held each June at the Manor Hotel, Exmouth, and includes the annual presentation of trophies to league winners. 


This is the complete list of winning teams and individuals, as taken directly from the trophies.  


1st Division Cottew Cup

2nd Division

Turner Cup

Individual Championship












Exeter School A



Exeter School A

Bill Bailey       (Civil Service)



R. J. P. Gray   (Exeter School)


St. Loye’s College

J. J. Griffiths                (Exeter)



Arthur  Coates / Philip Walker


St. Luke’s College

Philip Walker         (St. Luke’s)


St. Luke’s College Civil Service John Simpson        (St. Luke’s)


St. Luke’s College Tiverton John Jones              (St. Luke’s)


Exeter Rooks University B C. Moffat              (University)


Exeter Rooks Exeter Knights J. A. Flood                   (Exeter)


University A Tiverton Brian Dabulawicus (University)


University A Exmouth Robert Pearce           (St. Luke’s)


University A University B David Tout          (Civil Service)


University A Exeter Knights  


University A Exeter Knights Bob Lee                      (Honiton)


University A Exeter School A David Tout / Fred Hodge


University A Exeter College J. P. Guard


University A Seaton Ian Ashford               (Exmouth)


University A Exmouth B Stuart Landon            (Exmouth)


University A Exeter Knights Dennis Tongue          (Exmouth)


Exmouth A Exmouth B Stuart Landon            (Exmouth)


Exmouth A Ring o’ Bells D. F. L. Richardson       (Exeter)


University A Exmouth B Stuart Landon            (Exmouth)


University A Exmouth B Richard Lingham           (Exeter)


The Pawnbrokers Exeter School B Brian Hewson                (Exeter)


University A Exeter School B Brian Hewson                (Exeter)


Exeter Rooks Honiton Brian Hewson                (Exeter)


Honiton A Exmouth B Brian Hewson                (Exeter)


Exmouth A Exmouth B Guy Sparke                (Exmouth)


Exeter Rooks Exmouth B Steve Owen                   (Exeter)


Exeter Rooks Seaton Guy Sparke                (Exmouth)


Honiton A Exeter Knights Steve Owen                 (Exeter)


The Flying Teapots Exeter Knights Steve Owen                 (Exeter)


The Flying Teapots Exmouth B Richard Towers        (Exchange)


Exeter Rooks Exeter Knights Steve Owen                 (Exeter)


Exeter Bishops Knights / Seaton Dave Beckwith        (Exchange)


Exeter Rooks Exmouth B Fred Hodge               (Exmouth)


Exeter Rooks Exeter Knights Bob Jones                  (Exmouth)


Exeter Rooks   Bob Jones                  (Exmouth)


Exeter Bishops Axminster Guy Sparke               (Exmouth)


Exeter Bishops Exeter Knights Ray Shepherd                (Exeter)


Exeter Bishops Exeter Pawns Bob Jones / Paul Roberts


Exeter Bishops Exeter Knights Bob Jones / Danny Sparkes


Exeter Rooks Sidmouth Danny Sparkes           (Exeter)


Exmouth A Isca B Atkins / Aldwin / Stephenson


Isca A Exmouth B Ray Shepherd             (Exeter)


Exmouth A Exeter School A No contest


Isca A Sidmouth B No contest


Sidmouth A Exmouth B No contest


Sidmouth A Seaton A No contest

Copyright (c) R. H. Jones  2005 – revised & updated 2010. All rights reserved.