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Devon’s Team Blitz Tournament – 2017.

Devon’s Team Blitz tournament has been a regular calendar item for decades. Back in the 1960s there were up to 20+ teamsm eeting at venues as varied as the Pretoria Hotel, Okehampton or Oldway Mansion, Paignton. The event went into a decline for some time  but has recently proved increasingly attractive, with teams, greater in number and strength entering year on year. This time, thanks to the efforts of the organiser, Trefor Thynne, there were 15 teams of 4 players assembling at the Newton Abbot Chess Club, eager for 6 rounds of mayhem, and just 12 minutes per player thinking time for all moves.

After a brain-addling afternoon the winning team was Exeter Ninjas (20/24 pts) thus retaining the Thomas Cup. Their team comprised Tim Paulden, Paul O’Neill, Graham Bolt & Giles Body. 2nd Bideford (15); 3rd Exeter University “A” (14½); 4th Newton Abbot “A” (14); 5th Exmouth Eagles (13½); 6th Exeter Uni. “B” (13) winning the Hodge Cup for the highest score by a team graded U-600; 7th= Tiverton; Weymouth & Dorchester and Sidmouth (all 12½); 10th= Seaton & Torquay Boys’ G.S. (both 12). 12th Newton Abbot “B” (11½); 13th Torquay (11); 14th= Barnstaple & Exmouth Egrets (9).

Here is a summary of how all the teams did:-

DCCA Team Blitz   –   Sunday 29th October 2017

Summary Chart

Team Grd 1 2 3 4 5 6 Trophy
1 Exeter A 675 4 12½ 16 20 Thomas Cup
2 Bideford 648 3 6 7 10½ 13½ 15
3 Exeter Uni.  A 630 4 7 10 10 13 14½
4 Newton Abbot A 678 1 6 11½ 14
5 Exmouth A 641 5 10½ 11 13½
6 Exeter Uni.  B 525 3 8 9 10 13 Hodge Cup
7 Sidmouth 364 1 4 8 12½ Graded Cup
8 Weymouth 632 3 7 10½ 12½
9 Tiverton 712 3 12½
10 Torquay B. G.S. 403 ½ 6 9 10 12
11 Seaton 695 4 5 12 12
12 Newton Abbot B 492 0 4 11½
13 Torquay 712 0 1 5 7 10 11
14 Barnstaple 444 ½ 3 7 8 9
15 Exmouth B 532 1 3 5 9 9

Before the event got under way, Devon President, Paul Brooks, took the opportunity to present John Stephens with the Winter-Wood Shield, for having won the Champion of Champions summer tournament.

There's a nervous anticipation in the air as the teams start to assemble.

Old rivals Exeter (r) and Exmouth resume hostilities after the tea break. (Rd. 4).

Everything in full swing.

To call this team "Sidmouth" is something of a misnomer, as it comprises Julian Bacon and his 3 sons. Alternative names for the team are being sought in time for next year.

The University B team won the cup for the highest total by a team graded U-600.

Paul Brooks presents the Thomas Cup back to the team that brought it along to the event, Exeter A. l-r Paul O'Neill, Graham Bolt, Tim Paulden & Giles Body.

In the old days, say 50 years ago, the organiser, Ron Bruce, would announce the winning team, and then ask "Anyone with six?", and someone at the back of the considerable crowd would shyly stick up a hand. In these enlightened times there is a trophy to be presented and a photo opportunity to be exploited. No chance of shyness here as Jack Rudd of Bideford won all 6 of his games. He has an in-built advantage as Blitz is his normal rate of moves for all forms of chess.

Exmouth’s First Loss of the Season.

Tiverton vs Exmouth – Mamhead Cup Div. 2  – 16.03.2012.

Saturday Afternoon At The Tomato doesn’t have quite the same ring about it as the mid-70s classic jazz-fused song “Midnight At The Oasis”, but there was at least a tiny bit of Tiverton chess history involved as it was their first match at this experimental venue. “Tomato” is the striking title of a tapas bar, near the town centre in Tiverton, with a spacious room upstairs, which the owner lets free of charge, provided all the refreshments are purchased at the bar downstairs.

This was Exmouth’s 7th match of the season, and were so far undefeated, but any temptation to say they wanted to squash their opponents was firmly resisted. Just as well, too, because any squashing was done by the home team.

It all started so well, too, as John Stephens ended with a pretty finish in a pawn ending. At the other end, Simon Blake was the exchange up going into the endgame – a rook + 2 minor pieces vs 3 minor pieces. However, these included two knights, and these can become very slippery if given half a chance, and a knight check won a bishop, and it was downhill from thereon in. But at least the other two games looked solid enough, giving reasonable expectations  of yet another drawn match. Gosling agreed a draw, which left Shaw wondering whether to also settle for a draw or try and for a win in order to win the match. But it was one of those positions in which whoever tries to push for win, usually ends up losing, and this is what happened, giving Tiverton the match.

Bd. Tiverton Grd     Exmouth Grd
1 B. W. R. Hewson 174 0 1 J. K. F. Stephens 192
2 S. Bartlett 164 1 0 M. Shaw 166
3 I. S. Annetts 152 ½ ½ B. G. E. Gosling 164
4 J. Knowles 128 1 0 S. Blake   96
    618       618


The Exmouth line-up (Bd. 4 nearest)

 Dramatic Spanish decor throughout.

Tiverton line-up with bovine backdrop.

e2e4 Congress Torquay (10.02.2013.)

In answer to the question “How many Arkells play chess?” most will give the answer ‘one’. Those who have read his autobiography Arkell’s Odyssey, knowing Keith has a brother Nick, may answer ‘two’. Wrong again. The answer’s ‘four’, as Nick has two children, Charlie-ann and Daniel, and all four were playing in the e2e4 Congress at Torquay this weekend.

At the end of the day, Wells beat the clear leader, Dave Ledger, on Bd. 1 and Arkell (K. C.) beat Dominic Mackle to join Wells as joint-winners of the Open on 4/5, while a last round win by Martin Burrows allowed him to catch Ledger in 3rd= place.

There was a 4-way tie for 1st place in the Major (U-160), between Arthur Hibbitt (Bristol), Russell Barlow (Somerset), Brendan O’Gorman (DHSS) & Keith Osborne, all on 3.5.

Likewise, the Minor (U-125) finished with a 4-Way tie between Jacqui Barber-Lafon (Newton Abbot), Miles Davies (Bristol & Clifton), STephen CRockett (Redditch) and Lee Bullock (Hackney), all on 4 points.

The next two Arkells, with Mum and private coaches, Keith & Nick.

Daniel Arkell starts his last round game, with Brixham & Berry Head in the background.

Charlie-ann starting Rd. 5 against Andrew Slade, father of Theo, England Squad junior.

General view of the playing area.

GM Peter Wells considers his options against clear leader Dave Ledger.

Local residents Dominic Mackle and Keith Arkell face up in Rd. 5

Theo Slade (W) vs Robert Thompson.

Devon’s Inter-Area Jamboree 2013

East team enjoy last gasp win.

Three teams of 12 players representing the East, South and Western areas of Devon met at the Newton Abbot club on Sunday to compete in their annual jamboree.

The East gambled somewhat  in playing the highly-graded John Stephens, and compensated for this by fielding a number of humbler players at the other end of the team. This tactic almost rebounded on them, as Stephens was well-beaten in the biggest upset of the afternoon, while none of the lower grades lost. Added to this, they defaulted one board as one player failed to turn up.

However, everything went down to the last game to finish, between Hewson and Brusey, which went to the last few seconds of extra time. Hewson had a knight + 3 pawns against a rook + 3, with the pressure on Brusey to look for a win as he was materially ahead, but with only seconds left on both clocks, it was Brusey’s that fell first, allowing the East to leapfrog the West.

However, by this time, three-quarters of the East team had already left for home, and so missed the dramatic denoument.

Organiser Trefor Thynne thanked all those concerned in the smooth running of the event; his wife Lyudmila and her colleague for providing an excellent tea and Bill Frost for controlling. Alan Crickmore reciprocated by thanking Trefor for his hospitality.

At the outset, Trefor had introduced to the assembled players, local schoolboy, John Fraser, who had recently been selected to represent England in the World Junior Championships in Greece, later in the year. Only the previous day, he had launched an appeal for donations to off-set the considerable financial costs his family would have to meet in taking up this offer, and within 24 hours it had already raised several hundred pounds. Anyone interested in contributing to this fund should contact Trefor on 01626-337876.

Bd team White grd     team Black Grd
1 W1 R. Pollock 164 1 0 E1 J. K. Stephens 192
2 E2 B. W.  Hewson 174 1 0 S1 A. W. Brusey 174
3 S2 W. Ingham 158 1 0 W2 M. Stinton-Brown 159
4 E3 S. Bartlett 164 1 0 W3 R. Wilby 145
5 W4 M. Quinn 135 ½ ½ S3 J. Fraser 153
6 S4 J. E. Allen 149 0 1 E4 I. S. Annetts 152
7 W5 E. A. Crickmore 134 1 0 E5 J. Morrison 137
8 E6 R. H. Jones 130 ½ ½ S5 R. Hocking 128
9 S6 P. Wiseman 125 0 1 W6 J. Dean 128
10 E7 J. Knowles 128 0 1 W7 M. O’Brien 124
11 W8 P. White 118 1 0 S7 B. Wilkinson 121
12 S8 D. Russell 120 ½ ½ E8 F. R. Hodge 115
13 W9 A. Tatam 110 0 1 E9 B. Aldwin 102
14 E10 E. Palmer 100 1 0 S9 M. Cuggy 118
15 S10 C. Peach 117 ½ ½ W10 C. Ziminides 106
16 E11 S. Thorpe-Tracey 100 ½ ½ W11 P. Lochead 102
17 W12 D. Scantlebury 100 0 1 S11 R. Greenhalgh 105
18 S12 R. Green 104 ½ ½ E1`2 A. Brinkley 100

NB: Players graded under 100, are deemed to be 100 for the purposes of this event.

Morrison defaulted.

Bd South       West       East    
1 A. Brusey 174 0   R. Pollock 164 1   J. Stephens 192 0
2 H. Ingham 158 1   M. Stinton 159 0   B. Hewson 174 1
3 J. Fraser 153 ½   R. Wilby 145 0   S. Bartlett 164 1
4 J. Allen 149 0   M. Quinn 135 ½   I. Annetts 152 1
5 R. Hocking 128 ½   E. Crickmore 134 1   J. Morrison 137 0
6 P. Wiseman 125 0   J. Dean 128 1   R. Jones 130 ½
7 B. Wilkinson 121 0   M. O’Brien 124 1   J. Knowles 128 0
8 D. Russell 120 ½   P. White 118 1   F. Hodge 115 ½
9 M. Cuggy 118 0   A. Tatam 110 0   B. Aldwin 102 1
10 C. Peach 117 ½   C. Ziminides 106 ½   E. Palmer 100 1
11 R. Greenhalgh 105 1   P. Lochead 102 ½   S. Thorpe-T 100 ½
12 R. Green 104 ½   D. Scantlebury 100 0   A. Brinkley 100 ½
    1572     1527     1594 7


  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Total
East 0 1 1 1 0 ½ 0 ½ 1 1 ½ ½ 7
West 1 0 0 ½ 1 1 1 1 0 ½ ½ 0
South 0 1 ½ 0 ½ 0 0 ½ 0 ½ 1 ½ 4½ 


General view of play, with Hewson vs Brusey in foreground

General view with White vs Wilkinson in foreground.

Bd. 1 - Richard Pollock (Plymouth) vs John Stephens (Exmouth).

Last game to finish - Hewson (Tiverton) vs Brusey (Teignmouth).

Megan O'Brien (Plymouth) the only lady player present vs John Knowles (Tiverton)

England junior international, John Fraser.

Devon vs Cornwall (08.12.2012.)

Devon beat Cornwall 12-8 at sunny Saltash on Saturday. The details were (Devon names first): 1.D. Mackle 1-0 J. F. S. Menadue. 2.J. K. Stephens ½-½ M. Hassall. 3. S. Homer 1-0 L. Retallack. 4. J. F. Wheeler ½-½ S. Bartlett. 5.K. J. Hurst 1-0 J. Willman. 6. B. W. R. Hewson ½-½ G. Trudeau. 7.A. W. Brusey ½-½ C. Sellwood. 8. O. E. Wensley ½-½ J. Nicholas. 9. J. Leung 1-0 D. J. Jenkins. 10. M. Shaw ½-½ M. Hill. 11. B. G. Gosling ½-½ R. Smith. 12.A. Kinder ½-½ C. Long. 13. N. Rahimili 1-0 D. R. Jenkins. 14. T. F. Thynne 1–0 A. Barkhuysen. 15. W. Ingham 1-0 P. Spargo. 16.P. Brooks 1-0 D. Lucas.

The top game was this, with notes based on those by the winner.

White: D. Mackle (202). Black: J. F. S. Menadue (187).

Queen’s Gambit – Slave Defence – Alapin Variation. [D15]

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.e4 b5 White has gambited a pawn in return for extra space for his pieces. 6.e5 Nd5 7.a4 e6 8.Ng5 h6 9.Nge4 b4 10.Nb1 Qh4 11.Qf3 Ba6 12.Nbd2 c3 13.Nc4 Bxc4 14.Bxc4 cxb2 15.Bxb2 Nd7 16.a5 f5 17.exf6 N7xf6 18.Bd3 Kd7 Black decides to keep his king in the centre as he plans a kingside attack. White accepts the challenge and goes for a queenside counter. 19.0–0 Nxe4 20.Bxe4 Bd6 21.g3 Qf6 22.Qd3 a6 23.Rfc1 h5 24.Rc2 h4 25.Rac1 hxg3 26.hxg3 Rhc8 27.Qb3 Ra7 28.Qa4 Rac7 29.Bd3 Qf3 30.Be2 Qe4 31.Qb3 Rh8 32.Bf3 Qf5 33.Bg2 g5 34.Qc4 Ra8 There now follows some toing & froing as the time control at move 40 looms. 35.Re2 Rcc8 36.Rce1 Re8 37.Rc2 Rec8 38.Qe2 Re8 39.Rec1 Rec8 40.Re1 Re8 With an extra 20 minutes thinking time now available, White can afford to work out the details of his attack. 41.Bf3 Rac8 42.Bg4 Qg6 43.Rcc1 Re7 44.Qxa6 the final assault. 44…Nf6 45.Rxe6 Rxe6 46.Bxe6+ Kxe6 47.Qxc8+ Nd7 48.d5+ cxd5 49.Re1+ 1-0 as the king must abandon his knight. 49…Be5 doesn’t work after 50.Rxe5+ nor 49…Kf7 50.Qxd7+ Kf8 51.Qd8+ Kf7 52.Qe8#.

Meanwhile, Somerset beat Dorset 10½-5½ at Bradford Abbas, while Hants lead Glos 8-7 with one disputed result to be settled. More details next week.

The solution to Christopher Reeve’s problem was 1.Nd8! after which Black has four tries, all of which fail; viz (a) 1…BxR 2.BxB#;  (b) 1…PxN 2.QxP# (c) 1…BxB 2.QxQP# and (d) 1…PxP 2.QxQP#.

This position is taken from an early Paignton Congress game – T. H. Tylor vs F. E. A. Kitto. Black (to move) has sacrificed a rook in pressing his attack. Was it worth the price?

Can Black win in spite of his material deficit?

Devon II vs Dorset Result (03.11.2012.)

Devon’s 2nd team met Dorset at Luppitt Village Hall last Saturday, and anyone looking at the team lists before kick-off could have been forgiven for thinking that Devon should have a fairly smooth ride, as they outgraded their opponents on all boards but one. However, a late withdrawal and a default did much to even things up, and as the games finished there was never more than a point between the teams. In the end, with the scores standing at 7½-all, it came down to the last game to finish (Annetts-Litchfield), which was an unclear endgame, until the Dorset player allowed his last piece to get trapped and conceded his game, and with it the match.

The full scores were as follows; (Devon names first in each pairing).

1. T. F. Thynne (158) ½-½ P. Aston (151); 2. P. Brooks (157) ½-½ W. Legg (149); 3.M. Stinton-Brownbridge (159) 0-1 D. Aldwinckle (149). 4. D. A. Toms (159) 0-1 J. Cherryson (145); 5. J. Fraser (153) 1-0 Steve Blake (145); 6. I. S. Annetts (152) 1-0 M. Litchfield (142); 7. J. G. Gorodi (148) 0-1 M. Fielding (139); 8. P. Dobber (142) ½-½ P. Errington (140); 9. R. G. Wilby (145) 1-0 P. Brackner (136); 10.  K. P. Atkins (143) 1-0 P. Jackson (133); 11. P. E. Halmkin (140) 1-0 J. Kelly (128); 12.  D. Nie (146) 1-0 P. Bland (128); 13. A. Hart (135) 0-1 J. May (128); 14. K. Alexander (129) 0-1 F. Fallon (124); 15. R. H. Jones (130) 1-0 N. Mackie (117); 16. Simon Blake (96) 0-1  J. M. George (108).

In this game from the match, Black conducts a successful kingside attack.

White: P. Brackner. Black: R. Wilby.

Franco-Indian Defence [A45]

1.d4 e6 2.e3 Nf6 3.Nd2 c5 4.c3 Nc6 5.Be2 Qc7 6.a4 cxd4 7.exd4 d5 8.Ngf3 Bd6 9.0–0 Ng4 10.g3 f5 11.Nh4 Nf6 12.Ng2 Bd7 13.Re1 Ne7 14.Nf1 Ng6 15.Bh5 0–0–0 16.Be2 A retreat that doesn’t help White’s piece development. 16…Ne4 17.f3 Nf6 18.Be3 Now Black proceeds to break open the kingside. 18…f4 19.Nxf4 Nxf4 20.Bxf4 Bxf4 21.gxf4 Nh5 22.Qd2 Rdf8 23.Bb5 Rxf4 24.Bxd7+ Kxd7 25.Qe2 Rf6 26.Qe5 Qxe5 27.Rxe5 Nf4 28.Re3 h5 29.Kh1 Rg6 30.b4 Nh3 31.Ng3 h4 32.Ra2 The knight must stay there, as if 32.Ne2 Nf2# 32…hxg3 33.Ree2 Nf4 34.Red2 g2+ 35.Rxg2 Nxg2 36.Rxg2 Rxg2 37.Kxg2 Rc8 0–1 Already a rook down, White must lose his queenside pawns.

Last week’s game ended after 1.b4! does several things including providing a flight square for White’s king and threatens Qxf2, after which White’s queen and bishop pair bear down on the Black king.

Here is another original 2-mover by Dave Howard, which he tells me is not too difficult.

White to mate in 2.

Devon’s Team Blitz & Dorset Congress (20.10.2012.)

Devon’s Team Blitz Tournament was held at the Newton Abbot Club on Sunday. Thirteen teams of 4, playing six rounds with only 12 minutes each per game for the all their moves, battled it out for the Thomas Cup. Tiverton Buzzards retained this with Bideford 2nd and in joint 3rd place Exmouth Eagles and Newton Abbot Rooks. The Hodge Cup, newly donated by Exmouth veteran Fred Hodge, for teams between 600 – 450 total grade, was won by Tiverton Kestrels, while the U-450 trophy was won by Torquay Boys’ G.S. Full details of all teams may be found on

Weymouth’s Allan Pleasants continued his recent run of form by winning the 47th Dorset Congress at the Bournemouth International Hotel last weekend. This was the crucial game from the 5th and final round.

White: Allan Pleasants (188). Black: Ian Clark (180).

Sicilian Defence – Smith-Morra Gambit [B21]

1.e4 c5 2.d4 cxd4 3.c3 dxc3 4.Nxc3 Nc6 5.Nf3 e6 6.Bc4 Nge7 7.Bg5 f6 8.Bf4 Ng6 9.Bg3 a6 10.0–0 Bb4 11.a3 Bxc3 12.bxc3 0–0 13.Bd6 Re8 14.a4 Nce5 15.Nxe5 Nxe5 16.Ba2 Nf7 17.a5 b6 18.Rb1 b5 19.Bb4 Bb7 20.Qe2 Qc7 21.Rfe1 Ne5 22.Rbd1 Nc6 23.Bd6 Qxa5 24.Rd3 Both defending c3 and preparing to attack. 24…Ne7 25.Rh3 Rac8 26.Bb4 Qc7 27.Qh5 h6 28.Qg4 Kf7? saving his h-pawn and opening up a route for his rooks to move across and defend, but not the best option. Necessary was 28…Nc6 then if 29.Rxh6 Ne5 30.Qg3 a5 31.Rxf6 axb4 32.Rf5. 29.e5 f5 30.Qh5+ Kg8 31.Rg3 f4 32.Rg4 a5 White sees a winning kingside attack which does not involve his black-square bishop, so goes for it. 33.Bb1 axb4 34.Qxh6 Nf5 35.Bxf5 d5 36.Qh7+ Kf8 37.Qh8+ Ke7 38.Rxg7+ Kd8 39.Qh4+ Re7 40.Bxe6 Qxc3?? Least worst was 40…Qc5 Anything else leads to a quick mate. 41.Qxe7# 1–0

The solution to last week’s 2-mover by Grandmaster Christopher Jones was 1.Rb5! and the g-file knight threatens mate on e2 or h5. If Black’s rook’s pawn takes it then 2.Qxg3 is mate.

This position arose at the end of a game at this year’s Olympiad in Istanbul. Black is materially down but has a 3 move knockout combination up his sleeve. How did the game end?

Black to play and mate in 3

National U-18 Team Championship.

In 2011, after an absence of some years, Devon entered the National U-18 Team Championship. Even though they came last on that occasion, they were sufficiently encouraged to have another shot this year. The organiser, Trefor Thynne, has sent in this report on their experiences. 


ECF National Counties’ Under-18 Finals:  30th June 2012

Following last year’s successful experiment in entering a Devon team into this event, a real effort was made this year to turn out a stronger and more representative team. Although clearly not in the same league as the “big guns” from the South-East, the Devon boys put up a good showing in coming 10th out of 15 competing counties.

Although the bulk of the team came either from Torbay or Exeter with Torquay Boys’ Grammar School providing 6 players and the ex-Broadclyst Primary School contingent making up another 3, it was good to see a new face from North Devon, 17 year-old Arthur Rinvolucri  who won both his games as did Jeffrey Leung of TBGS.

Another encouraging feature of the Devon team was the wide age spread with 4  boys in their final year at school or college balanced by 3 players under 12, including Theo Slade who has recently represented England in a tournament in the Czech Republic. 

  team Pts/24     team Pts/24
1st Herts 18½   9th Manchester 11½
2nd Berks 18   10th Devon
3rd Kent 18   11th Surrey ‘B’
4th Sussex 17½   12th Middx
5th Warks 16½   13th Norfolk 5
6th Surrey 16   14th Lincs 4
7th Bucks 14   15th Hants ‘B’
8th Hants 13        

Devon’s individual results were as follows:-

Bd. Player Grd School Pts/2
1 Alex Billings 163 Torquay Boys’ G. S. 1
2 Jeff Leung 165 Torquay Boys’ G. S. 2
3 Theo Slade 147   0
4 John Fraser 125 Torquay Boys’ G. S.
5 Daniel Nie 123 Torquay Boys’ G. S. 0
6 Arthur Rinvolucri 100   2
7 Nathan Mills 100   0
8 Jared WRay 100 Torquay Boys’ G. S. 0
9 Tomas Trott   92   1
10 James Royle   89   ½
11 Reece Whittington   85   ½
12 Rafe Whitehead (Rd. 1)   66 Torquay Boys’ G. S. 0
12 Greg Susevee   (Rd. 2)   84 Colyton G. S. 1

It is certainly an event worth making the effort to attend and will prove to be valuable experience for those boys eligible for the team next year. The august surroundings of Eton College make an extra attraction for players and spectators alike. I am grateful to Dave Regis of Exeter CC who shared the minibus driving and team management with me and who will in due course provide annotations on all the Devon boys’games.

Trefor Thynne

8th July 2012


Sir Robert Newman MP – Lord Mamhead.

Sir Robert Newman   – Lord Mamhead.   (1871- 1945)


 Robert Hunt Stapyton Dudly Lydston Newman, became the D.C.C.A.’s third President in 1920.

At the time he was the Conservative M.P. for Exeter, and it was quite usual for many of the city’s societies to invite a local dignitary to head their organisation in order to give it added kudos. After all, the Association’s first President in 1901 had been the then Exeter M.P., Sir Edgar Vincent, whose connection only ceased when he lost his seat in the 1905 election. The self-interest was mutual, as it suited the sitting member to be so involved in city life as it brought him into contact with the electorate, limited though it was at that time. 

When the Association’s second President, Edward J. Winter-Wood, died unexpectedly in 1920, Sir Robert Newman was approached and readily agreed. There is no record of any chess activity on his part, but he must have been interested in the game as he remained in post for at least 15 years, possibly longer. Henry Lewis Bowles, who had lived and played chess in Exeter in the early 1870s recalled the names of several players he had met, and one of them was a Newman. This could not have been Robert, of course, but could have been his father, indicating an interest within the family. 

Mamhead House - an early print.

 He had been born in London in 1871, the son of Sir Lydston Newman (1823 – 92), but the family home was the Mamhead estate, situated between Dawlish and the Haldon Hills, overlooking the Exe estuary and Exmouth beyond.  In fact, Sir Lydston only succeeded to the title after his older brother, another Sir Robert, was killed at the Battle of Inkerman in the Crimean War. It was one of the finest country seats in the county, the estate having been purchased in 1823 by Robert W. Newman, who had made his fortune as a Dartmouth merchant, and who himself became MP for Exeter.

He had a new house built on the Mamhead estate, designed by Anthony Salvin (1799-1881) and built in Bath stone. It was Salvin’s first major commission, and Newman’s faith in him was rewarded as Salvin went on to win a reputation as a leading expert on late mediaeval houses, applying the principles to the fashion for Victorian Gothic architecture.

Sir Robert succeeded to his father’s Baronetcy in 1892, and was elected to Parliament in 1918, in which capacity he served the city until 1929. Although a Conservative, he moved increasingly to the left on the political spectrum in the wake of the General Strike and the Depression that followed, until in 1929 he stood as an independent against the official Conservative candidate. Such was his popularity in the city that he was re-elected and stayed in the Commons until 1931, when he was “kicked upstairs” to the House of Lords, taking the title Lord Mamhead. 

He was, by all accounts, a small, thin man, quiet and reserved, but also described by a friend as a man of strong character, independent views, sincere convictions and a delightful modesty. He was a devout Anglo-Catholic, and one of his housemaids recalled that each and every morning, after eating a boiled egg for breakfast and smoking his only cigarette of the day, he would walk to the local church to take Communion.

The Mamhead Cup, Devon's division 2 trophy.

The Mamhead Cup: Silver hallmarked 1909 and donated to DCCA by Lord Mamhead in 1935, intended for the 2nd Division championship and still used for that today.  The difference between the dates of its hallmark and  donation  suggests it might originally have been used for something else.  Its value in 1994 for insurance purposes was over £1,000.

 The first winners were:-

1935 Exmouth.  1936 Exmouth.  1937 Plymouth.  1938 Exmouth. 1939 Exeter.   No contest. 1946 Exeter. 1947 Exeter.  1948 Exeter. 1949 Plymouth. 1950 Exmouth

Lord Mamhead died in 1945 at the age of 74.  In 1954 the estate was auctioned off, and Mamhead House became a Christian centre. In 1963 all the house’s furniture and fittings were sold off, and it became a boys’ school. It is now owned by the Rockeagle property company, and several small businesses have their headquarters there.

Mamhead House in 2012


In 2012, the house and accompanying 165 acres of gardens, park and farmland, were put up for sale with an asking price of £8,000,000.

At the moment, it is not clear whether the donation of the cup marked the end of Mamhead’s presidency – a sort of parting gift -  or whether he stayed in office until the time of his death. If the latter, he would have been Devon’s President for a quarter of a century, and even if there is no evidence of his playing strength or activity, his longevity in office at a time of consolidation for the Association makes him eligible for inclusion in this list of Pioneers. 


Stacey, C:                   Men of the West                                  Stacey                         1926

Who’s Who In Devonshire          Wilson & Philips                                                 1934

Fincham-Powell K & Williams J:  Memories of Mamhead & Ashcombe    1999

Annetts, I. S:                Devon Trophy Book                                                             1997

Somerset Beat Yorkshire etc. (26.05.2012.)

Last weekend saw the Quarter-Finals of the National Stages of the Inter-County tournament, and Somerset was drawn against Yorkshire. It featured a breathtaking ending where, as the last game to finish reached its final few seconds, the northcountry player needed only a draw to win the match, but lost on time, making the result 8-8, and Somerset going through on the tie-break rules.

Meanwhile, Devon had entered the Under-180 section and was drawn against Surrey. This was also a close encounter, but Devon eventually went down 7½-8½.

I shall give a game from each match next week.

This Rd. 1 game from the recent Frome Congress put paid to the top seed’s chances of 1st prize.

White: Patryk Krzyzanowski (184). Black: Bruce Jenks (206).

Benko Gambit [A57]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 b5 The Benko Gambit, in which Black gives up a pawn, hoping to undermine White’s pawn centre, while opening up the queenside for his own pieces.  4.cxb5 a6 5.b6 White does not wish to fall in with Black’s plans. 5…d6 6.Nc3 g6 7.e4 Bg7 8.Qb3 Bb7 9.a4 a5 10.Nb5 Qxb6? 11.Nxd6+ Qxd6 12.Qxb7 0–0 13.Qxa8 Nxe4 14.Nf3 c4 White may be a rook up but his king is still vulnerable, stuck in the centre. 15.Qxa5 c3 16.Rb1 Nc6 17.Qb5 Not 17.dxc6?? because of 17…c2 threatening the rook and mate on d1. 17…cxb2 18.Bxb2 Rb8 It’s probably best to give up his queen, a luxury he can afford by virtue of still being a rook up. 19.Bxg7! If, for example, 19.Qxc6 Qb4+ 20.Ke2 Nc3+ 21.Qxc3 Bxc3 22.Bxc3 Qe4+ 23.Kd2 Rxb1 24.Bd3 Qf4+ and White will have great difficulty in the face of Black’s two active pieces. 19…Rxb5 20.Bxb5 Nb4 21.Be5 Nc2+ 22.Kd1 Qc5 23.Bd3 Nxf2+ 24.Kd2 f6 25.Bxc2 fxe5 26.Rhe1 Ng4 27.h3 Nf6 28.Nxe5 Qxd5+ 29.Kc1 Qxg2 30.Rb8+ Kg7 31.Rb3 Nd5 32.Ng4 h5 33.Be4 Qa2 34.Bxd5 hxg4? Necessary was 34…Qa1+ to escape the potential attack on the queen. 35.Rxe7+ Kh6 Which brings us to this week’s position. White is materially ahead, but the Black queen could prove dangerous if permitted, and it is important to finish the game off quickly before that happens. In fact, White did just that – his next move, as unexpected as it was effective, prompted resignation. Can you spot it?

White to play and win quickly.


Dave Howard’s 2-mover last week was solved by 1.Rh6! with a threat of mate on d4 that Black cannot escape.