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Taylor, T. (1860-1934)

Thomas Taylor    (1860 – 1934).

TomTaylor

Thomas Taylor was born in 1860 at St. Cleer near Liskeard, Cornwall, the son of William Taylor, a mining engineer from St. Just. The family moved first to St. Ives and by 1888 to Plymouth where Thomas eventually became a manufacturer of waterproofs.

 That year he became a founding member of the newly-formed Plymouth Club. He won the club championship for the first time in 1893 and repeated the feat a further nineteen times, the last time in 1926. He won Devon’s individual championship six times in an eleven year period, and the Winter-Wood Trophy nine times between 1911 and 1924. This was then, as it still is today, a knockout between the champions of the various clubs affiliated to D.C.C.A. This chart illustrates his dominance of Devon chess at this time.

 

 

Championships

 

Year

Plymouth Club

Devon

Individual

Winter-Wood

Shield

1893

Taylor

 

 

1896

Taylor

 

 

1899

Taylor

 

 

1900

Taylor

 

 

1901

Taylor  *

 

 

1902

Taylor

 

 

1903

Taylor

 

 

1906

Taylor

 

 

1910

Taylor

Taylor

 

1911

Taylor

 

Taylor

1912

 

 

Taylor

1914

 

Taylor

 

1915

 

 

Taylor

1916

Taylor

Taylor

Taylor

1917

Taylor

Taylor

Taylor

1919

Taylor

Taylor

Taylor

1920

Taylor

 

 

1921

Taylor

Taylor

Taylor

1922

Taylor

 

 

1924

Taylor

 

Taylor

1926

Taylor

 

Taylor

 

18 titles

6 titles

9 titles

 

Having won the Plymouth Championship trophy for three consecutive seasons in 1901, he was entitled to keep the original trophy which had been donated by Carslake Winter-Wood, whose brother, Edward, donated a replacement cup, which Taylor immediately won.

 Devon’s first Match Captain was C. J. Lambert (q.v.) who resigned in 1903 after two years in office. He was temporarily replaced by Henry Bremridge (q.v.) as an emergency measure, but Taylor soon took over permanently, a post he held for over 30 years until his death. However, he was handicapped by poor eyesight to such an extent that he could not undertake the secretarial duties of the captaincy – a match conductor was always elected to make the arrangements for each match.

 He played at the BCF Congresses three times. At Glasgow in 1911 he came 4th in the Major Open with a score of 6. He also played at Cheltenham in 1913 and Hastings in 1919.

 What games we have of his come from the scorebooks of Ron Bruce, whom he played many times, and may be found in the database of Bruce’s games.

 He is pictured above in 1901 when he lived at 8, Connaught Avenue, Plymouth, a bachelor with his retired father and sister Elizabeth Taylor. He died in 1934, by which time a young Ronald Mackay Bruce had assumed Taylor’s mantle, and who in turn combined a great ability and consistency in the service of Devon chess. However, even in his final year, he had won his games against Cornwall and Somerset on Board 5, and was yet again in the running for his club championship with a score of 7 / 10. He contracted pneumonia suddenly and unexpectedly, and died in the middle of April 1934.

 Below: Taylor as the Grand Old Man of Devon Chess, posing with his county team mates.

taylor#2

A player of such skill and commitment to the county, fully deserves his place in this modest Devon Hall of Fame.

 As Ron Bruce concluded in his BCM obituary, “He was really a wonderful old man, much esteemed and greatly missed”.

 © R. H. Jones. 2010

 

 

Ronald A. Slade (1917 – 11.12.2006)

Action shot of Ron Slade in his post-war Bristol days. Action shot of Ron Slade in his post-war Bristol days.

The newly-formed West of England Chess Union’s first act in 1947 was to organise the first WECU individual championship. In its first year, this took the form of a 7 round all-play-all, the 8 players involved being, Ron Bruce, Frank Kitto, Andrew Thomas, Harold Mallison, Ron Slade, (all Devon), Chris Sullivan, David Hooper and H. V. Trevenen. A classic photograph of this event may be found elsewhere on the website.

Almost 60 years on, Slade was the last of this illustrious group still alive, having lived quietly for 30 years in deepest Cornwall, almost forgotten by the chess world, having long since given up active play.

He was born in Plymouth in 1917 and attended the local Secondary School for Boys. He was very active in sport at school, playing rugby for Devon Schoolboys and Plymouth Albion reserves, but a sporting injury (shoulder) at the age of 18 put an end to that and he started to take his chess more seriously. There had been a chess club at his school and he had been the Devon Junior Champion in 1931. He attended the Plymouth Club, where the stars at that time were Ron Bruce and Jack Goodman. They were careful, solid, positional players who would never dream of sacrificing a piece in cold blood, and the young Slade felt this was the style he should emulate.

He improved rapidly, but just as he felt ready to mount a challenge for the championship of the Plymouth Club, war broke out and he moved to Bristol to work as a fitter and turner for the National Smelting Company. On the Bristol chess scene he mixed with a different group of players. One of his first games was against Chris Sullivan, who sacrificed a whole piece and proceeded to blow his position apart. This was a revelation to young Ron who hadn’t fully appreciated good players could play in such a cavalier, daredevil manner, and he quickly realised this was the way he really wanted to play and changed his style accordingly.

He went in for sharp, critical lines which had to be “felt” rather than calculated. As in walking a tightrope, it was little surprise that he fell off from time to time. Peter Copping, another strong westcountry player, joked that he was surprised Ron had taken to chess, as poker would have suited him better.

Slade first became Gloucestershire champion in 1947, holding it for four consecutive years, in 1949 jointly with Max Poolake. In addition, in 1948 he was his club champion, Bristol & Clifton and the Bristol League Individual Champion, and the Gloucestershire Champion, a unique achievement at the time. In addition, he was Gloucestershire Match Captain, playing on Board 1.

ronslade03
Slade playing at the 1948 WECU Championship, alongside fellow Pioneer F. E. A. Kitto.

He was certainly the star of the Bristol chess circuit at this time, giving simultaneous displays and talks to local clubs.

Tuesday November 24th 1949 he took on 12 members of the Kingswood Chess ClubOn Tuesday November 24th 1949 he took on 12 members of the Kingswood Chess Club, conceding a draw and 3 losses.
In July 1950, he visited the Downend Club, Bristol, and took on their club champion, H. R. Howell, their Knockout Champion, H. Frankson and the Club President, W. Rolls, in a simultaneous blindfold match, winning 2 of the games.

Downend Club opened by Ron SladeAfter the War, the Downend Club had no premises and members were forced to play in each others’ houses. The club chairman was W. Rolls, a builder who was determined to solve the problem by building a clubroom himself. The new premises were opened 15th June 1950 and Ron Slade was specially invited to do the honours.

Mrs. A. Wilson-Osborne making the presentationIt was indeed a busy summer for Slade. After the official opening, he returned shortly afterwards to the Downend Club to give another simultaneous display, taking on 21 opponents and beating 20 of them. The following week, he went to the Kingswood Club for another simultaneous match, which was to be his last appointment in Bristol as was shortly due to move to Kent. At the end, to mark his great contribution to Bristol chess in only 4 years, he was presented with a copy of Murray’s great work, “A History of Chess”. Pictured left are Mrs. A. Wilson-Osborne making the presentation, W. A. Ellis, Chairman of the Kingswood Club, A. Wilson-Osborne, W.E.C.U. President, Mrs. Eileen Slade and C. Welch. At the end of his life, this was the one item of his chess memorabilia that he wished to be retained within his wider family – he had no children.

He moved to Kent, and won the Kent Championship even before his successor as Gloucester Champion had been decided – he was thus champion of two very different counties at the same time – very probably a unique achievement among our pioneers.

Taking on 31 members of the Tunbridge Wells ClubHe is pictured left taking on 31 members of the Tunbridge Wells Club on 21st February 1953, winning 27 and drawing 3 games. As if simultaneous play is not difficult enough, he appears to have had the added problem of having to play looking over each player’s shoulder!

Ron with his wife, EileenHe did not break his connection with westcountry chess after leaving Bristol in 1950 as he dearly wished to become West of England Champion, but found that his knife-edge style was not well-suited to a 7 round contest against the likes of Thomas, Kitto, Aitken et al. Inevitably he would fall off the tightrope from time to time, spoiling his chances. The closest he got initially was 2nd= in 1951 at Weymouth. The picture on the left is a detail from the group photograph of the WECU Congress when it returned to Weymouth in 1955, Ron with his wife, Eileen.

WECU Champion at lastEventually he won the title in 1958 at Newquay, and having achieved this aim, he didn’t compete in the WECU Championship again.

WECU Champion at last. Receiving the cup at the Penolver Hotel, Newquay, Easter 1958.

Below: The full group of players and some wives at Newquay 1958. Slade is partly hidden in the 2nd row standing; wife Eileen to his right.
The full group of players and some wives at Newquay 1958 Also visible: Ken Bloodworth (extreme right rear); Ron Powis (2 away); George Wheeler (adjacent); Dr. Jim Aitkin (seated); Philip Walker (future WECU Champion – arms folded near right-hand gatepost); Andrew Thomas (leaning on column).

He continued playing in the Civil Service Championship which he won twice in the late 1950s. On the career front, he started work at the British Museum in 1955 and went on to a responsible post at the British Library.

A group involved in the Civil Service Championships, Slade sitting to the right of the trophy table.
A group involved in the Civil Service Championships, Slade sitting to the right of the trophy table.

Notwithstanding his various championship wins during the post-war years, his results were always somewhat variable, the reason for which lay in his dangerous playing style. But he was very clear that chess is a game that can be played intuitively very well, and is more fun than relying on cold calculation.

To illustrate this point, he told the story of his visit to the 1951 Hastings Congress where, having taken a day’s leave from his job at the British Library, he spent the afternoon watching Gligoric take on Gerald Abrahams. As the opening was one he regularly played himself, he was particularly interested in the way the game developed, and he stuck with it. Abrahams seemed to be doing well until Gligoric suddenly opened up the centre and Abrahams’ position collapsed. The two players retired to the analysis room and Ron asked if they would mind him sitting in. He watched, and several times Abrahams asked his opponent, “What would you have done if I’d played such and such a move”. Several times Gligoric suggested a plausible line of play, but on other occasions said he hadn’t even considered certain other moves because it was “not the right sort of move”.

Some years later, that very game was published, not by Gligoric, with long explanatory notes on moves that 10 minutes after the game Gligoric had said he hadn’t even considered. This hitherto unrecorded example of a great player using his intuition rather than intricate calculation Ron found most impressive as it accorded with his own philosophy.

He retired to Lelant, near St. Ives in 1977, where he tried local league chess for a season, but found that his individual style did not necessarily lend itself to the demands of playing for a team; he didn’t like anxious team captains standing at his shoulder chewing their nails, and he retired from active chess altogether. Yet his best games are most enjoyable, and fortunately for two years before he died, he cooperated with Keverel Chess in trying to resurrect a representative collection of these, most of which would otherwise have been lost to posterity.

As the Devon-born player who won probably the greatest range of titles, champion of three different counties, the West of England, Bristol League and the Civil Service, he fully deserves a place in this Hall of Fame.

(c) R. H. Jones. 2009

Bloodworth, Ken ( 25.06.1914 – )

Kenneth John Bloodworth. 

b. 25th June 1914 

 bloodworth#6

 Ken’s line of the Bloodworth family originated in the small village of Leonard Stanley, Gloucestershire, on the western edge of the Cotswolds, between Stroud and the M5.  The Bloodworths had lived and worked in Leonard Stanley for most of the 19th century, which was noted for its woollen industry, and there are Bloodworths on the village War Memorial. Ken’s Grandfather Bloodworth moved to nearby Cheltenham where he came to own a bakery shop at 306, High Street. His main claim to fame was that he invented and patented a nutritious drink that he called “Cheltine Foods”. It was successful and he eventually sold the patent, the purchasers changing the name to “Ovaltine”.

 He had three children from a first marriage, and three sons from a second, Archibald Frank, Stanley and Vernon.

Archibald Frank Bloodworth was born on 8th July 1890 and married Elsie Vera Channon on 18th August 1913. Ken was their first-born and a brother, Richard, followed. It was Ken’s maternal grandfather, Henry Channon, who introduced the young Ken to the game, although nothing much came of it at that stage. 

 Blood#4

 Ken at the Boy Scouts’ World Jamboree, Arrowe Park, Birkenhead, 1929

 In 1924, the family moved to London and Ken later attended Hampton Grammar School, and he returned to the game in his final year there. In 1934, aged 20 he joined the Royal Navy, and with time on his hands on board ship, started to take the game more seriously, winning his ship’s championship in 1938, on H.M.S. Nelson. 

It was here that he got his first taste of teaching. One day his captain summoned him to his cabin and explained that they had on board a very capable stoker who was not academically inclined and unable to pass even the lowest grade of exam that he needed to get promotion. The captain thought Ken would be the ideal person to take him on. Ken demurred at first, but soon changed his mind when the captain explained that it came with the rank of Acting Schoolmaster and an extra 1/6d (7½ p) per day. The stoker passed the exam, was promoted and another seed was sown in Ken’s mind.

His main job was to ensure ships were properly provisioned and this became increasingly important, especially as, with the outbreak of war, new ships were being built and launched at a great rate. One ship he was involved with preparing for sea, was suddenly handed over to the Polish Navy by the Government. As the boat prepared to go to sea for the first time, the small team Ken was with were expected to move on to the next ship, but by this time, Ken had got friendly with the Polish crew, mainly through the language of chess – there were a number of good players among the Poles and they really sharpened up Ken’s game – so he elected to stay on the O R P Krakowiak, where he remained for the duration of the war. The ship to which Ken was expected to move was duly completed and launched, but was bombed on its maiden voyage and Ken’s former colleagues were all killed. Chess can thus be said to have saved Ken’s life.

(below): Ken in Naval Uniform.

Blood#2                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I

 He picked up all the usual wartime medals for his actions in the North Atlantic, Mediterranean and North African theatres of war, but was also awarded the Krzyz Walecznych by the Polish government, instituted in 1920 for acts of great valour and courage in battle, the equivalent of France’s Croix de Guerre, and only very rarely awarded to allies.

On one occasion, the Krakowiak tied up in Plymouth for 24 hours on 1st June 1944, and on reporting to the naval stores office, Ken encountered the teenage Joyce Turner in the supplies office, where they each had to counter-sign the appropriate forms. “Hmm”, she mused, “Bloodworth – that’s a funny name”. They finished up going to a dance that night, and were married the following year (see below).

Blood#1 

After the war he was demobbed and settled in his wife’s home town. He first became an uncertificated teacher at Montpellier School, Plymouth, before going to Leavesdon Green Training College near Watford, to train as a teacher. On qualification, he worked in a number of Plymouth primary schools, Public P. S. (1949 – 60); Honicknowle (1960 – 64); Montpellier again (1964 – 68) before returning to Honicknowle as Deputy Headteacher (1968 – 74) from where he retired.

 In 1946 he joined Plymouth Chess Club, which at that time was run under the benevolent tutelage  of Ron and Rowena Bruce. Later that year he entered the Hastings Congress for the first time. In 1948/9 he won the Major A Section with 7½ points, with J. Lindsay-Moodie and N. Clissold 2nd= both on 7. The following year won the Best Game prize in the Premier Reserves.

There was a schools’ chess league in post-war Plymouth, which was being run by Brian Adams, and Ken took this over in 1950. Ken was also elected secretary of the Plymouth Club in 1952, a post he held for 5 years. 

In 1952 a new Headteacher was appointed at Plymouth College. This was F. W. Lockwood, who had been classics master at Golombek’s old school, Wilson’s Grammar School, and Head of the William Ellis School since 1944. He was a great promoter of junior chess, being Chairman and Treasurer of the Chess Education Society and making his school the annual venue for the London Boys’ Championship, in the days when the likes of Jonathan Penrose and Peter Clarke were first making their mark. Very soon after his arrival in Plymouth, he invited the town club to make its home there and even won one of the sections in the club’s tournaments. He thought about creating a junior tournament in Plymouth on similar lines to the one he ran in London, and talked the idea through with the club secretary, Ken. With Lockwood’s previous experience and practical support, not to mention a grant of £10 from the DCCA, Ken organised the first Devon Junior Congress at Plymouth College after Christmas 1953. That year, there were 24 entrants, local schoolboys  George and John Wheeler being among the top winners. It was deemed a success and plans were made to make it an annual event. Unfortunately for Devon chess, Lockwood was suddenly taken ill and died in hospital on 19th February 1955 at the early age of 47. He could reasonably have been expected to put another 25 years’ effort into chess in Devon. It was a great loss, but fortunately, the torch he had carried had been passed on to Ken, just in time, as it turned out. 

After Lockwood’s death, the Plymouth Club had to move out of the College, but the Junior Congress stayed, and under Ken’s stewardship the Devon Junior Championship went from strength to strength. Ken ran it for 27 years, until the DCCA imposed conditions on it which made it impossible to run. At its height it attracted over 200 young players. An international section was introduced which, at the time, was the only tournament of its kind in the UK. Although started on a shoestring, it later attracted Lloyd’s Bank sponsorship and young players entered from all over western Europe. At least six competitors went on to become senior champions of their countries – Germany, Netherlands, France, Ireland, England and Scotland. 

By the mid-1950s he had become Devon’s Junior Chess Secretary and shortly after held the same post for the West of England. From there he was appointed as WECU Delegate to the British Chess Federation, and first came into contact with junior chess at a national level. In 1958 an England junior team was being run by W. Ritson-Morry, and by the following year Ken had also become involved. In 1960 the BCF formed a committee to run junior activities and Ken was invited to join the committee in its second year. 

At that time, one of the projects that the new committee had to consider was an offer by The Times newspaper to sponsor an inter-schools chess event. Ken suggested that an age handicap should be included to account for the inevitable differences in the average ages of the teams involved, to ensure a level playing field, as it were. As is often the case, it was conceded that it might be a good idea, but that Ken should devise a draft scheme. He did so, it was adopted, and is still in use today.

 

In 1961, Ken succeeded as secretary of the Glorney Cup competition and remained in that office for 30 years. This tournament had been inaugurated in 1948 when the Irish Secondary Schools Council had suggested a match to be played in Dublin between six boys from Ireland and six from England, a match that England won 11½ – ½. The following year, Wales joined in and an Irish businessman, Cecil Parker Glorney, presented a challenge cup for annual competition – (see picture below). It became a  regular testing ground for the teenage boy players of the four home countries. bloodworthGlorney

After finding his feet in this post, Ken sought to expand its scope by inviting teams from the continent. The entry is rarely the same two years running, but to date, the Netherlands have won the cup 12 times and France twice. Also, in 1968, girls were included with the inauguration of a cup donated by Faber, the book publishers. Selection for the Glorney and Faber Cups continues to be  regarded as a high point in the career of any junior, and gives them valuable experience and stand them in good stead when graduating to the senior ranks. 

In August 1989 Plymouth was due to host the British Championship for the second time, and it also hosted the Glorney and Faber Cups the previous week. This would enable the juniors to stay on and participate in the bigger event. It also provided an opportunity for competing teams to recognise Ken’s unstinting work for almost three decades. To this end, he was presented with an illuminated letter from the Dutch which read…. 

Dear Mr. Bloodworth,

The Board of the Royal Dutch Chess Federation has decided to award you with the

      Mark of Honour

For your never-ending efforts to make the Glorney and Faber a yearly success.

Yours faithfully,

B. Hoeksema-Meijer

He was also presented with an inscribed glass goblet, bearing the legend… 

Presented by the competing nations to

K. J. Bloodworth

For his promotion of the Glorney Cup

Youth Team Chess Tournament

July 1989

 This was, in fact, a Caithness Glass replica of the Glorney Cup itself, done on the initiative of John Glendinning, the Scottish representative, on behalf of all the competing nations. 

In 1991 Ken completed three decades as secretary when the competition was held in Ghent, Belgium, his last year. 

Plymouth has hosted the British Championships on three occasions – 1957, 1989 and 1992. For the first of these, Ken acted as congress secretary, as the BCF had no such official position at the time. He did everything, down to finding local accommodation for juniors, where necessary. 

In September 1963, J. E. Jones, for some unknown reason, suddenly ended writing his weekly chess column in the Plymouth-based Western Morning News, and Ken was asked to take over. When he agreed, he was specially asked by the Editor to be an impartial and objective reporter of the Devon and Cornwall chess scene, something his predecessor had not always been. Ken then filed his weekly copy for the next 37 years, before handing on to another Jones in 1999. This job constituted the post of Devon’s Publicity Officer, and was the last administrative office he relinquished. 

He was elected President of the Devon County Chess Association for a three year spell, from 1970 – 73, and as WECU President from 1986 – 88. 

In 1980, in his capacity as former Chairman of the BCF Junior Committee, Ken flagged up the existence of a promising young primary school pupil in his home patch. The response in committee was to the effect that the boy might be a big fish in the small pond of the Far West, but it would be a very different matter if and when he met the big boys. The 8 yr old’s  name was Adams – Michael Adams – and the rest is history. Ken’s early intervention enabled Adams to be provided with a top coach, Shaun Taulbut, a move organised by Leonard Barden. 

In 1983 the BCF inaugurated an annual award, the President’s Award for Services to Chess to give its full title, to recognise the various contributions to the organisation of the game in Britain. Such was the esteem in which Ken was held that he was nominated in only its third year, 1985.

In his eighties, he slowed down on the administrative front, but continued to play a mean game in local congresses and competitions. He was an invaluable member of Devon’s 2nd team, and was instrumental in getting Devon to the National U-150 final, when he grabbed a spectacular last-minute win against Cambridgeshire in the semi-final at Swindon, snatching an improbable 8½ – 7½ victory from what at one point in the match seemed the jaws of death. In recognition of this, the team captain, Ian Mason, awarded him the Match Captain’s award for that season, the presentation being at the final (see below). In the subsequent final, Devon lost to Essex 9½ – 6½, but Ken managed a safe draw.

bloodworth#5

  

October 2007: Ken in play at the Weymouth Congress

October 2007: Ken in play at the Weymouth Congress

October 2007: Ken in play at the Weymouth Congress.

 In 2004 he celebrated his 90th birthday with a special match, organised for him by the Plymouth Club. This comprised a team from his home club against a team consisting of senior players with whom Ken had been involved during his long career. 

In October 2007, in his 94th year, he was still sprightly enough to drive himself in his new car from Plymouth to Weymouth to take part in the annual Dorset Congress (see above). 

Ken and Joyce had two sons, Peter and Richard, who both took up the game in their youth. Richard played in one of the junior sections in the British Championships, but has since moved to Australia, where he, in turn, has two sons. Peter lives on the south coast and has a son and two daughters, one of whom has recently provided Ken with his first great grandchild. 

Ken’s energy and commitment to the game seemed boundless. He didn’t just dabble for a short time with a range of jobs – he stuck at them for decades at a time and developed them in the process. Taking a snapshot in, for example, 1972, the year of the Fischer – Spassky match, Ken was, in no particular order, (a) President of the Devon County Chess Association (3 years). (b) weekly chess columnist of the Western Morning News (37 years); (c) Organiser of the Devon Junior Congress and Lloyd’s Bank Junior International Congress (27 years), and (d) Secretary and organiser of the Glorney Cup (30 years). There were, of course, a host of other posts either side of this. All this in addition to his playing commitments for various Plymouth and Devon teams and congresses, and not forgetting that at that time, he was still the Deputy Head of a busy Plymouth school. 

It’s a wonder he had time to fit in his other interests of playing Bridge and relieving bookmakers of some of their profits.

 ©  R. H. Jones 2010

 

Bibliography:

Testimony of K. J. Bloodworth.

BCF                  Various BCF Yearbooks.

Sunnucks, A:    The Encyclopaedia of Chess                   Hale                  1970

Whyld, K:          Chess Columns – A List                          Olomouc           2002