When the Devon County Chess Association was formed in 1901, the Winter-Wood family had already been the county’s major chess dynasty for most of the 19th century. By that time, the patriarch, Thomas (1818-1905) was already well into his eighties and too old to play an active part in the new organisation, leaving that to his two sons, Edward and Carslake.
When Thomas died, his widow, Eliza Ann, offered to donate a trophy in his memory up to the value of £20, leaving it to the officials to decide its form and the nature of the competition. It was decided to have a knock-out tournament open only to the champions of club affilliated to D.C.C.A. It was presented at the AGM in October 1909 and first competed for the following summer. The original value of £20 had risen to £2,000 for insurance purposes in 1994, and remains one of the largest and most flamboyant chess trophies in the south-west, if not the whole country.
This year’s entrants had been whittled down to two, and these met in the Final last evening at the Newton Abbot club; these being Andy Dunn, Champion of Torquay and Mark Abbott, Champion of the Exmouth Club. Dunn had the white pieces and opened 1.e4 to which Abbott replied with his favoured Sicilian Defence, which promised at least a lively game, if not a firework display.
Shortly after they started, the current holder of the Shield, Alan Brusey, walked in the room, and when I suggested to him it was a pity the prize could not have been there, for possible presentation at the end of the game, he immediately offered to go back home and get it, as he lived only a few minutes away. And in no time, it was in position on an adjacent table.
But by the very nature of a knockout formula, players tend to want to concentrate on avoiding defeat in order to stay in the mix, rather than going all out for a win and risking elimination, and this game never really took off, and a draw was agreed as the time control approached. A replay was agreed for 3 weeks time at Newton Abbott, with colours reversed.
In the 1950s, when such dour players as Ron Bruce and J. E. Jones were involved, multiple replays in the Winter-Wood were the norm, these two in particular often being locked into 4 or 5 replays in a single round. Jones was the Competition Secretary at this time and tried hard to change this tournament into a league, so that a draw would count as a half point, the players moving on to the next opponent, without unnecessary delays. However, this created a great furore within DCCA; the motion was defeated by the traditionalists causing Jones to leave the Association and concentrate on his other posts in WECU and the new Torbay League.
How many replays will be needed to decide this particular final?