The Borough of Torbay has been twinned with the port of Hellevoetsluis in Holland since 1988. This is no accident , for that year was the tercentenary of the landing at Brixham of William of Orange on his way to assume the British throne in the “Glorious Revolution”.
The background to this great event in 1688 lay in the growing unpopularity of King James II. In fact, the British had had an uneasy relationship with the Sturat Kings for most of the 17th century. From 1603 James I was a Catholic assuming the monarchy of a Protestant country; Charles I was famously executed; his son Charles II was restored to the throne and became the “Merrie Monarch”. He died without legitimate issue (though with 12 illegitimate ones) and was succeeded by his brother James II, who possessed the ability to alienate great swathes of the country to the point where they wished to be rid of him. William of Orange, who had pragmatically married his own 1st cousin, Mary Stuart, was invited to “invade” the country whereupon he would be acclaimed as the new king.
He set sail from Hellevoetsluis with an army of 30,000, heading for the North East under the terms of Plan A. However, unfavourable winds took the ships down the English Channel instead, and they landed at Brixham unexpectedly and unforeseen on November 5th, anniversary of an earlier plot to usurp a Catholic Stuart king. Nevertheless, this plan was successful, James fled into exile and William & Mary reigned as joint monarchs.
The tradition of a small fighting army of Dutch, leaving Hellevoetsluis and landing in Torbay continues to this day, in the form of a group of chessplayers under the leadership of Jan Straatman. As in 1688, they are welcomed by the English before commencing a token battle. In fact, this chess link is one of the most fruitful and regular aspects of the twinning connection as they have visited at least 8 times.
The latest encounter is taking place this weekend. A small group of 4 players flew in to Exeter Airport on Saturday morning, and their first match was against Exmouth the same evening. It had been difficult for the home team to field a team that more closely matched that of the visitors as their identities were unknown until the day of the match. After drinks in the bar of the Manor Hotel and an exchange of souvenirs, the match got under way.
|1||Brian Hewson||184||1||0||Bonne Faber||133e|
|2||Dave Rogers||149||1||0||Jan Straatman||117e|
|3||Bob Jones||140||1||0||Wim Nordermeer||108e|
|4||Malcolm Belt||119||1||0||Wim Heijer||95e|
Hewson’s game ended fairly quickly after he followed a policy of sensible piece development before initiating a quick winning attack. The other games, however, were all more closely fought. Jones had won a piece in the opening, but without due care and attention could easily have fallen to one of several back rank mates. Belt was left with Bishop + 3 pawns against Rook and 2, yet somehow managed to usher two pawns to the 7th rank on opposite sides of the board; the rook could stop one but not the other from queening. Rogers had positional pressure, but could only win after swapping off all pieces and leaving himself with a strong extra pawn.
Their visit continues on Sunday with a team rapidplay tournament taking place at Forde House, Newton Abbot, where William stayed on his 2nd night, with his army encamped on Milber Downs nearby.
Here are some scenes from the Saturday match:-