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Devon vs Somerset (26.11.2017.)

Devon & Somerset’s 1st and U-160 teams met yesterday at a new venue, Sampford Peverell’s Village Hall. It proved an ideal set-up, situated, as it is, almost on the county border, close to the M5 and with its own main-line railway station, Tiverton Parkway. The hall itself was ideal in every respect, and being decked out with boughs of holly brought a seasonal touch to the proceedings.

The 1st team meeting proved to be a match of two halves – the top and bottom half. Somerset had a strong top 4, but conceded more and more the further one went down the team lists, and from that alone one could reasonably expect a fairly comfortable win for Devon. The fact that it didn’t turn out that way seemed to lie in the middle orders, boards 7 – 11 where Devon enjoyed a 20 grading points advantage on every board, yet failed to record a single win. This, coupled with the fact that Somerset won all 4 top games, made it a very close, sweaty-palmed afternoon indeed. If Devon hadn’t been offered some free help – one no-show and a suicide – there might have been a somewhat different outcome.  The Devon Captain’s observations follow:-

Meanwhile, the U-160s took no such chances, losing only 2 of their 12 games. They have now won both of their matches in the WECU stage, and await the draw for the National Stages, early next year.

Jonathan Underwood wrote as follows:

When I saw the Somerset team before the match, I’d thought we should have a large lead on the lower 12 boards (where we outgraded them by on average 20 points) which would win the match provided nothing too disastrous happened on the top four, which proved somewhat prophetic.

At the venue there was an ill omen as the first lot of tables we found were of a height intended for toddlers, but eventually we found the right ones. First panic over. I thought the place was very suitable and would certainly book it again.

By the time the match started Somerset were still missing three of their players, only two of whom did eventually turn up, leaving Steve Martin with a wasted journey and Devon with a point. It wasn’t our first though, as Oliver’s opponent miscued his gambit and resigned after 10 moves.

Looking around at a fairly early stage of the match our three Pauls seemed to be going well, with Paul Hampton’s opponent running short of time already after just 10 moves on the board. Jos Haynes also looked to be winning, and soon afterwards both he and Paul O’Neill added wins to draws from Tim, Brian, Chris and Stephen Homer. One way or the other games involving Jack Rudd always finish quickly, and this time Walter succumbed to the Somerset IM. Devon led 6-3.

Things on the other top boards weren’t looking so good. Dominic ran out of time after 29 moves and Graham had to contend with a menacing passed pawn. I offered a draw thinking my opponent was bound to accept as he was significantly worse albeit, with a big lead on time. I was wrong. Over the next few moves my position improved to winning.. and then went to dead lost as I struggled with the clock. A similar reverse befell Paul Brooks and it was 6 all.

By now Dennis had a pair of bishops for a rook, which together with his opponent’s weakened pawn structure proved enough to win, but Graham had to resign shortly afterwards and it was 7 all. So we went down 4-0 on the top boards.

At this stage Paul Hampton’s lead on the clock was down to a few minutes, with a complicated open position and only 25 moves made. John was holding an awkward bad bishop against knight endgame.  With only a minute or so left Paul’s opponent went for simplifications, which seemed to leave him worse though not obviously losing, but having to consider a lot of possible threats in no time. I not sure whether Paul or I was the more relieved to see the flag fall around move 33. John’s game was agreed drawn within seconds, and Devon scraped home 8.5-7.5.

Thanks to everyone who turned out to play. I have now learned the wisdom of always fielding the strongest possible team, just in case it’s one of those days.


Bd Devon 1st team Grd Somerset 1st team Grd
1 Walter Braun 203 0 1 Jack Rudd 215
2 Dom Mackle 198 0 1 Ben Edgell 202
3 Graham Bolt 196 0 1 Pat Krzyzanowski 197
4 Jon Underwood 192 0 1 Arturo Wong 189
5 Paul O’Neill 188 1 0 Andrew Gregory 175
6 Steve Martin 186 1 0 Andrew Cooper 174
7 John Wheeler 185 ½ ½ D. Painter-Kooiman 163
8 Brian Hewson 184 ½ ½ Lander Bedialauneta 159
9 Tim Paulden 183 ½ ½ Robert Radford 157
10 Steve Homer 181 ½ ½ Darren Freeman 156
11 Chris Lowe 176 ½ ½ Gerry Jepps 156
12 Dennis Cowley 173 1 0 Roger Knight 156
13 Paul Hampton 172 1 0 Dave Peters 156
14 Oliver Wensley 172 1 0 Alex Conway 150
15 Jos Haynes 171 1 0 Adrian Champion 147
16 Paul Brooks 170 0 1 Chris Purry 147
Devon U-160s Somerset U-160s
1 Alan Brusey 158 1 0 Philip Chapman 141
2 Charlie Howard 155 1 0 Chris Fewtrell 146
3 Brian Gosling 154 1 0 Chris McKinley 144
4 Nick Butland 150 0 1 Chris Strong 144
5 Peter Halmkin 148 ½ ½ Tim Wallis 144
6 Andrew Kinder 147 1 0 Utibe Effiong 142
7 Martin Quinn 146 1 0 Jim Fewkes 141
8 Josh Blackmore 143 1 0 Nigel Mills 133
9 Rob Wilby 140 ½ ½ Ben Radford 133
10 Adam Hart-Davis 135 ½ ½ Mark Baker 130
11 John Allen 134 0 1 Chris Lamming 129
12 Bob Jones 128 1 0 Martin Willis 129

Some nervous banter among the top boards before play started

Geberal view of the hall, decked out with boughs of holly and other festive trimmings

Somerset's top 4 boards get down to action, except Krzyzanowski whose empty chair bears witness to his being late.

Exotic and exciting Venezuelan, Arturo Wong, nearly reduced Devon's captain to tears with his fighting finish after being well down in the middlegame.

The Tacchi-Morris Arts Centre

The Tacchi-Morris Arts Centre  

The West of England Chess Union’s annual jamboree has been held at the Tacchi-Morris Arts Centre on the outskirts of Taunton for about a decade, with the host being Taunton Chess Club member, Martin Worrall, who also happens to be a technician at the centre.  

I’ve often wondered about the origin of the name/s attached to the centre, though have never quite got round to enquiring about it, assuming that it was probably the surnames of a couple of town councillors – the mayor, perhaps, and some local community activist. However, this year I made a point of asking Martin about it and he drew my attention to a plaque in the corner of the foyer, which told a very different story. (see picture 1 below) 

The name, in fact, refers to Mrs. Kathleen Tacchi-Morris who lived for 50 years at Long’s House, a rambling 17th century manor house in North Curry, just 5 miles east of Taunton, until her death in 1993. In their later years she and her husband had set up a trust fund to be used in the promotion of peace and harmony throughout the world. In 1999 the trust donated £1 million, together with a £2.1 million grant from the Arts Council, to create the Tacchi-Morris Arts Centre.  

Yet behind this bald fact lies a story of an extraordinary life lived by an extraordinary lady from an exotic family. She was born in 1899 in Johannesburg, the eldest of five children to Percy George Tacchi and his wife, Rebecca Kathleen. Although both Londoners, Percy and Rebecca met in South Africa, where Percy was working as an engineer in the goldfields and Rebecca was training to be a doctor, as there was little chance of that happening in England at the time. After they got to know each other, Percy contracted typhoid and as Rebecca nursed him back to health they fell in love and got married. Shortly after Kathleen was born the combination of life in the goldfields and the Boer War decided the young family to return to the UK.  

Percy continued as an inventor, specialising in wheeled vehicles. While in South Africa he had set up a small company, Tacchi and Wright, building bicycles for the indigenous populace. Back in England he developed the first 4-cylinder motorcycle for Wilkinsons. (see picture 2 below). 

By this time, Kathleen was 10 years old and attending a school from which she was expelled for organising a pupils’ strike against the excessive corporal punishment that went on there. She was then sent to a boarding school in Manchester and got expelled from there as well after just four weeks, for complaining about the treatment of girls. From then on any education was received at home and was somewhat ad hoc. They lived in semi-rural Acton at this time, where they had a house built in Nemours Road.  

In the meantime four siblings arrived on the scene; in order of age they were Percy George junior, Mercia Olga, Maurice Phoebus and Ruby.  

Her father was a socialist and a member of the Fabian Society, taking Kathleen to all their meetings, where she got to know many of the founding members, including George Bernard Shaw, H. G. Wells, Annie Besant (future President of the Indian National Congress),  Leonard & Virginia Woolf, the Pankhursts and Sidney & Beatrice Webb.  

She also went to ballet lessons from an early age, before getting her first paid employment in a drapers shop in Leytonstone at 12½p per week. She spent WW1 at the Hotel Cecil, the HQ of the Air Force doing not a lot, as she confessed. After the war, most women workers had to give up their day jobs to make way for the returning soldiers and Kathleen had to scratch around for work. She phoned around numerous firms saying she’d heard they needed someone in the office, which of course they didn’t. One company challenged her by asking where did you hear that story from? Kathleen took up the challenge by going round to see the person she’s spoken to and on meeting her, gave her a job immediately. It was with a film-making company in Wardour St. and she was suddenly mixed up in the world of film people, socialising with the likes of Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford. She had small parts in a few films utilising her dancing skills, including Coming Through The Rye, a 1923 silent film  starrng Alma Taylor and Ralph Forbes, and Men Are Not Gods (1936) directed by Alexander Korda. (see pictures 3 & 4 below).

Her film colleagues urged her to push harder for a foot up the ladder to stardom, which undoubtedly she could have done, but dancing was in her blood, not acting. Partly to escape the cinema circus and to concentrate on the dance she went to Paris in 1922 enrol at the Jacques-Dalcroze school.  

Émile Jaques-Dalcroze (1865 – 1950) was a Swiss composer, musician and music educator who developed eurhythmics, a method of learning and experiencing music through movement. Turning the body into a well-tuned musical instrument, Dalcroze felt, was the best path for generating a solid, vibrant musical foundation. The 57 yr old composer was smitten with his young student and regularly took her to the Paris Opéra where she met the likes of Diaghilev, Isadora Duncan and Picasso, who used to do their décor. Kathleen wasn’t entirely convinced with all of Dalcroze’s techniques but was able to adapt them to her own needs.  (see pictures 5 & 6 below)

On returning to England she trained groups of dancers who performed at the Hammersmith Palais and the Victoria Palace. In the early thirties there were trips to Antibes where she got mixed up in the Edward and Mrs. Simpson affair. Then in 1936 she married Walter Allan Stagg (1903 – 1984) an Equipment Officer in the RAF. They bought a house in North Curry before Stagg was posted to Malta. Kathleen quickly came to hate her lot, as her efforts to start a children’s dance school were forbidden by the rule that forces personnel should not fraternise with the locals. She gave her husband the ultimatum “Leave the forces or I will leave you – your choice”. He stayed on, Malta took an almighty pounding by the Luftwaffe throughout the war, and he went on to become one of the RAF’s top brass, being awarding the CBE in the Queen’s Coronation honours. 

Kathleen went back to their house in North Curry, a village she had come to love in her short time there. She met Richard Rodham Morris (1903 – 88) who came from a long line of auctioneers and estate agents, stretching back in North Curry throughout the 19th century. They married in Exeter in 1945, much against the wishes of his wider family, who were all country Conservatives, while she was cast as a communist atheistic free-thinker. Yet the marriage worked well enough, as “Rod” was in awe of her energy and enthusiasm and just let her get on with whatever she wanted to do.  

First of all she sacked all the servants at Longs House and turned over the vacated rooms and outhouses to her pet projects – initially looking after the local mothers of black children who’d been abandoned by their families and US fathers. There were also German Jewish refugees. A large barn was converted into a theatre and Lydia Sokolova from the Diaghilev ballet came down and taught ballet while Kathleen taught eurhythmics.  

This went on until 1950 when her life took an unexpected twist, best told in her own words.  

“It was an accident really, because I’d had three operations on my hip. I went to lecture on eurhythmics in Bradford and was staying there with friends. There was a newspaper on the breakfast table saying something about a conference on peace in Sheffield. I said “D’you know, I’d like to go to that. “Well let’s go”. I wasn’t allowed in as I hadn’t got a pass, but I waited outside. The doors opened and I could see Picasso on the platform. I thought ‘Goodness gracious me!’ So I wrote a note on the back of an old envelope in my handbag saying ‘Tacchi’s outside – please can she come in?’ I gave it to a policeman and said ‘Would you take that to Picasso?’ He said ‘Who’s Picasso?’ I said ‘He’s the second on the left.’ Picasso said ‘Of course, bring her in!’ So I went in and found myself sitting on the platform, and that was the beginning.  

“The place was packed with people; well-known people, writers and all sorts. It was terrific. I said to Picasso, ‘Why aren’t the women in this as well?’ He said ‘Well do something about it’ and I said ‘All right, I will’. He said ‘Promise you will?’ I said ‘Yes’. He said ‘We’re asked to shift this whole thing to Warsaw and I can’t go. Will you go there for me?’ I said ‘I’ve only got ten shillings on me’. I sent a telegram to my husband, saying ‘I’m going to Warsaw’. He sent one back saying ‘I take a dim view of this’, but I took no notice, I just went.’  ….. When I saw the ruins of Warsaw and heard the story of their suffering, I knew that the rest of my life would be devoted to the struggle for peace.’  

She founded the organisation Women for World Disarmament which she ran tirelessly until 1987. 

In the 1950s her parents came down to live with her. Percy had all the space he needed for his workshops, while Rebecca died there just a few days short of her 100th birthday.  

During 1987 she was involved in setting up the trust whereby, after their death, the house and grounds could become an international centre for youth, to promote peace. Also that year, she arranged for her Women for World Peace organisation to be merged with the Campaign for World Disarmament, which allowed her to retire. Rod died in January 1988 aged 85 and she died 5 years later aged 94. (see picture 7 below)

A much fuller account of her remarkable life story may be found in the book Women Remember – An Oral History  (Routledge 1989) by Anne Smith, from which I have tried to extract the essence and combine it with other material available on-line. She also wrote a short autobiography entitled I Promised Picasso. Although it was never published there is a typescript version archived in the Somerset Heritage Centre, Brunel Way, Langford Mead, Norton Fitzwarren, Taunton, TA2 6SF. This is kept with her many other papers relating to her long and active life.  

It’s not clear whether the Tacchi-Morris Arts Centre is exactly what she had in mind when she made her original legacy plans, though it teaches dance and drama, both dear to her heart. In any case, far from being a white elephant, it is a successful venture with increasing activity year on year, with, for example, the number of technicians required to service it all up from the original 2 to 5.  

She would be amused to think that the warfare that is chess is strictly of the non-violent kind, and so accords with her precepts. 

The Arts Centre entrance

The inventor with his Wilkinson TAC motor-bike.

(3) Kathleen Tacchi in a publicity film shot.

(4) Another publicity film still.

(5) Emile Jaques-Dalcroze

(6) Eurhythmics in action

(7) Kathleen Tacchi-Morris reflects on her incredible life.

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.

Inter-County Q-Final Results

Saturday was the day for several Quarter-Finals to be played involving westcountry teams.

Here is the first report to hand, with Somerset snatching victory from the jaws of defeat with just seconds of the playing time left. Report kindly sent in by Jack Rudd.

Somerset managed to beat Yorkshire in a thrilling match yesterday; it all came down to a final game where the Yorkshire player, needing only a draw with K+N+2P v K+N, managed to lose on time just a couple of moves before he could deliver checkmate. This led to the match’s finishing 8-8 and Somerset going through on board-count; our opponents in the semi-final will be Middlesex.

I don’t yet have access to the full scoresheet, but wins for the team were achieved by David Buckley, Rhys Cumming, Dave Littlejohns (the aforementioned crazy game), Peter Chaplin and Nikita Ayvazyan, and draws by Matthew Turner, Jack Rudd, James Sherwin, Nils Grotnes, Terry Stuttard and Mike Richardt.

Meanwhile, Devon, who had entered the Under-180 section of the National Finals, were playing Surrey at Stratford-sub-Castle, near Salisbury. The castle in question is the prehistoric hill fort of Old Sarum, which was abandoned in mediaeval times as Salisbury became the main town of the area, though its brooding presence still dominates  the area.

Like Somerset’s match, this one was also a close encounter, though a losing one. Brian Hewson’s report explains …

Despite outgrading Surrey by 5 points per board and at one stage 5-1 up, Devon lost 7½-8½ in the U180 Qtr Final. This defeat was partly self-inflicted as, at the delayed start (by 10 minutes), we still had 7 players missing. This has a negative impact on morale for those who are there on time and in particular affects my game, as I am in and out phoning players rather than concentrating on my own game. 

Mark Abbott turned up 15 minutes in. John Stephens thought it was a 2.30 pm start despite my letter saying “please be there by 1.15pm” and was 40 mins late. The other 5 were in a people carrier driven by Steve Homer – they got delayed as Dave Regis had to drive from Exeter to Exmouth to pick up Meyrick Shaw whose car did not start, but they still stopped for lunch and turned up 40 minutes late! Clearly this had a big impact as John Stephens, Dave Regis, Charles Keen and Meyrick Shaw all lost from decent positions as time pressure took hold. 

Despite all this disruption David Toms (one of the 5) started proceedings well by mating his opponent in 8 moves! Then Brian Gosling won well, Mike Stinton-Brownbridge had a fortunate win, draws from myself and Trefor Thynne and later a good win from Mark Abbott gave us a great start. Alan Brusey drew later, although John Wheeler lost after being over-ambitious in the opening, perhaps affected by his bad back. Paul Brooks and Andrew Kinder (last to finish) lost from reasonable positions. Steve Homer won a very well played game despite starting late. Bill Ingham (second last to finish) won on time but was winning the ending. So the fact is just a couple of draws out of the 7 losses and we would have won. 

I had 20 players decline the invitation to play in this match but we still put out a good team.

Bd Devon U-180 Grd     Surrey U-180 Grd
1 Steve Homer 179 1 0 Philip Stimpson 175
2 Brian Hewson 178 ½ ½ Geoff Marchant 174
3 John Wheeler 173 0 1 Alan Punnett 179
4 John Stephens 173 0 1 Julien Shepley 177
5 Dr. Dave Regis 175 0 1 Angus French 177
6 Mark Abbott 170 1 0 Owen Phillips 170
7 Alan Brusey 174 ½ ½ Angus James 164
8 Trefor Thynne 171 ½ ½ Nicholas Grey 164
9 Meyrick Shaw u/g 0 1 David Sedgwick 168
10 Bill Ingham 166 1 0 Francis Fields 158
11 Andrew Kinder 162 0 1 Albert Yiamakis 155
12 Paul Brooks 160 0 1 Chris Clegg 155
13 Charles Keen 155 0 1 Peter Horlock 150
14 Brian Gosling 150 1 0 Ian Deswarte 144
15 Dr. David Toms 153 1 0 Marek Turowski 141
16 Mike Stinton 150 1 0 David Charters 121

Westcountry Junior Team Event

Last Saturday, Devon hosted a junior chess team event at Tiverton, with teams representing Devon, Wiltshire, Somerset and South Wales taking part in 3 age groups – U-9s over 12 boards and 3 rounds; U-11s over 20 boards and 3 rounds and U-14s over 10 boards and 3 rounds.

The results were as follows:

U9: 1st Wiltshire (31); 2nd S. Wales (29.5); 3rd Devon (11.5)

U-11: 1st S. Wales (39.5); 2nd Devon (34.5) 3rd Wiltshire (16)

U-14: 1st S. Wales (22); 2nd Somerset (17.5); 3rd Devon (12.5); 4th Wiltshire (8).

No further details are available at the moment.

Forthcoming Congresses (26.02.2011.)

The East Devon Congress starts next Friday evening at Exeter’s Corn Hall. Enquiries about late entries should be addressed to the Secretary, Alan Maynard, on 01363-773313 or e-mail:

The Cornish Championships will be held at Stithians Village Hall over the weekend commencing Friday 25th March. The top section, the Emigrant Cup, is for Cornwall-registered players only, but all players under 145 grade may enter the other section. Details are on their website.

It is not too early to be thinking about the West of England Congress at Exmouth over the Easter weekend, as the number of places there is limited. Every year, some players book their hotel accommodation and buy rail tickets months before actually sending in their entry form for the congress. That is extremely unwise for this particular event. Enquiries should be sent to the Secretary, Andrew Footner, on 01935-873610 or e-mail

Here is one of Devon’s three wins from their recent match against Somerset, with notes kindly supplied by the winner.

White: Andrew Gregory (163). Black: Paul Brooks (160).

French Defence – Exchange Variation [C01].

1.d4 e6 2.e4 d5 3.exd5 exd5 4.Nf3 Bd6 5.Be2 Nc6 I usually try to create some imbalances against the drawish Exchange Variation. 6.0–0 Nge7 7.b3 0–0 8.Bb2 Ng6 9.Nbd2 Nce7 10.Ne5 f6 11.Nxg6 Nxg6 12.Re1 c6 13.Nf1 Bc7 14.g3 f5 Black’s aim in this set-up is to try to get pressure on White’s kingside. The advance of the f-pawn is attractive now that White has weakened his pawn cover with his last move. 15.f4 Bxf4! 16.Bh5 Black’s sacrifice looks speculative, but his pieces combine well, while White’s are rather disorganised. After 20 minutes thought, my opponent declined the offer. Here’s just one possible continuation, had he accepted. 16.gxf4 Nxf4 17.Bf3 Nh3+ 18.Kg2 (Of course, not 18.Kh1?? Nf2+) 18…Qg5+ 19.Ng3 (If 19.Kxh3 f4+ 20.Bg4 f3! 21.Ne3 Rf4 22.Rg1 Qh5+ wins 23.Kg3 Bxg4 24.Nxg4 Rxg4+ 25.Kf2 Qxh2+ etc.) 19…f4 20.Bc1 Qh4 I’d seen up to this point and trusted to luck for the rest! 21.Re5 Nf2! 22.Rh5 Bh3+ 23.Kg1 fxg3 24.Rxh4 Nxd1 25.Rxh3 Rxf3 26.Rxg3 Rxg3+ 27.hxg3 Nc3 28.Bb2 Ne4 29.Kg2 Rf8 with a winning endgame.

The actual game continued… 16…Bd6 17.Bxg6 hxg6 18.Bc1 f4 19.gxf4 Qh4 20.Be3 Bg4 21.Qd2 Bf3 22.Qf2 Qg4+ 23.Qg3 Bxf4 24.Qxg4 Bxg4 25.Ng3 Bd6 26.Bd2 Bh3 27.Re2 Rf6 28.Nh1 Raf8 29.Nf2 Bxh2+! a little tactic to finish it off. 30.Kxh2 Rxf2+ 31.Rxf2 Rxf2+ 32.Kxh3 Rxd2 With only 2 minutes left for 8 moves and a totally lost ending, White resigned. 0–1

This week’s elementary 2-mover shouldn’t detain you for too long.

White to play & mate in 2.

Devon Lose to Somerset (19.02.2011.)

In the latest round of the West of England Inter-County competition for the Harold Meek Cup, Devon lost heavily to Somerset by 11-5 at West Buckland on Saturday. Somerset’s nine winners were Jim Sherwin, Jack Rudd, Ben Edgell, Arturo Wong, Paul Hatchett, Patryk Kryzanowski, Andrew Footner, Chris Purry and Gerry Jepps. Devon’s three winners were Dave Regis, Bill Ingham and Paul Brooks. The four drawn games were between Buckley and Stephens; Stuttard and Brusey; Wallis and Howard; Fewkes and Annetts.

Devon have tended to dominate this competition in recent years and it seems other counties have now responded by making greater efforts to get their best players out, while some of Devon’s top people have been unavailable for a variety of reasons.

The other match scheduled for Saturday was between Cornwall and Hampshire, but was called off when the Cornish were unable to raise a full team and conceded a default win.

Here is one of Somerset’s wins.

White: Dr. J. Underwood (Seaton – 172). Black: A. F. Footner (Dorchester – 175).

English Opening – Keres Var. [A23]

1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.g3 c6 Paul Keres’ favoured move in this position. 4.Nf3 It’s always a danger when one invites a pawn to come forward and attack a piece like this 4…e4 5.Nd4 Almost immediately this knight is harried. 5…d5 6.cxd5 Qb6 7.Nb3 7.Qa4 would have combined defence with attack. 7…a5 8.a4 Ng4 an early threat of mate. 9.e3 cxd5 10.Bb5+ Nc6 11.Nxd5 Qd8 12.Nc3 Nge5 13.Nxe4 White is now 2 pawns up, but it is Black who has the open lines for his pieces to attack. 13…Bg4 14.Qc2 Nf3+ Further stunting White’s chances of getting his defences sorted out. 15.Kf1 But there is no hiding place here. 15…Qd7 16.Nec5 Bxc5 17.Nxc5 Bh3+ 18.Ke2 Nfd4+! 19.exd4 Nxd4+ 20.Kd3 Bf5+ 21.Kc3 Nxb5+ 22.axb5 Rc8 the last straw for White. 23.Re1+ Kd8 24.Qxf5 White had little choice but to give up his queen as alternatives are no better. e.g. 24.d4 Bxc2. Or 24.d3 Rxc5+ 25.Kb3 Qxb5+ 26.Ka2 Rxc2 24…Qxf5 25.d4 b6 26.Re5 Qf3+ 27.Be3 Re8 28.Ra4 Rxe5 29.dxe5 Rxc5+ the rook takes with check and will mop up more pawns, so White resigned. 0–1

Here is another look at last week’s 2-mover as one sometimes needs the position in view in order to fully appreciate the subtleties involved. The solution is 1.Be4! The bishop can be taken by either the King or d5 pawn. However, if 1…Kxe4 then 2.Rxf4 is mate as both the defending pieces are now pinned. If 1…dxe4 the Queen can now mate on d7 because the removal of the pawn empowers the rook on f5 to cover c5. Among other unsuccessful tries are 1…Nb4+ but it is taken by the Queen which mates, or 1…Bxf2 but this simply empowers the very rook it attacks and allows 2.Rxd5 mate.

White to mate in 2

Devon beat Glos – Somerset beat Cornwall.

The final round of the WECU inter-county competition took place last Saturday. Devon beat Gloucestershire 10-6 and so regain the Harold Meek Cup (1st teams) to add to the Wayling Cup for the graded section that they had already secured. Devon’s winners were Dominic Mackle, John Wheeler, Mark Abbott, Ian Jamieson, Robert Thompson, Paul Brooks, Andrew Kinder and John Morrison. Draws were obtained by Marco Mattei, Alan Brusey, Stephen Schofield and Ivor Annetts.

Meanwhile, Cornwall were playing Somerset over 14 boards at Exminster. Team captain Anton Barkhuysen led the way with a win against a strong opponent, but only Colin Sellwood and Robin Kneebone could follow suite and they went down 4½-9½.

Here is one of Devon’s wins in which Black has to combine pressure and patience until the big chance presents itself.

White: O. Martin (145). Black: R. Thompson (170).

King’s Indian Defence [E94]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0–0 6.Be2 Na6 7.0–0 e5 8.d5 Nc5 9.Nd2 a5 10.Rb1 Ne8 11.Na4 f5 12.f3 Bd7 13.Nxc5 dxc5 14.a3 a4 15.b4 axb3 16.Qxb3 Nd6 17.Qe3 b6 18.Ra1 Qe8 19.Bb2 f4 the start of a Kingside pawn storm. 20.Qf2 g5 21.Bd1 h5 22.h3 Bf6 23.g4 fxg3 24.Qxg3 Qe7 White’s pieces are trapped behind his own pawns and he seeks to free things up on the Queenside. 25.a4 Nf7 26.Nb1 Nh8 27.Nc3 Ng6 28.Ne2 Nf4 29.Nxf4 exf4 forcing the queen to over-extend its protective powers. 30.Qg2 Bxb2 31.Qxb2 Bxh3 32.Re1 g4 33.Qh2 Qh4 34.Be2 Qg5 35.Kh1 Kg7 36.Rg1 Kf6 37.Ra3 Rh8 38.Bd1 Qe5 39.Be2 Ke7 40.Rga1 Kd6 41.a5 White continues to seek space on the wing, but Black has a trick up his sleeve. 41…bxa5 42.Rxa5 Qxa1+! White resigned, in view of… 43.Rxa1 Rxa1+ 44.Qg1 Rxg1+ 45.Kxg1 leaving Black a rook up.

Of the English trio playing in the European Individual Championship in Croatia, David Howell finished strongly to reach 7½/11, with Adams on 7/11 and Keith Arkell on 6 pts. Once the tie-breaks have been calculated, the top 20 will qualify for the next cycle of the World Championship. Howell is close to qualifying but Adams is out of the frame, while Arkell did slightly better than his seeding.

The final round of the WECU inter-county competition took place last Saturday. Devon beat Gloucestershire 10-6 and so regain the Harold Meek Cup (1st teams) to add to the Wayling Cup for the graded section that they had already secured. Devon’s winners were Dominic Mackle, John Wheeler, Mark Abbott, Ian Jamieson, Robert Thompson, Paul Brooks, Andrew Kinder and John Morrison. Draws were obtained by Marco Mattei, Alan Brusey, Stephen Schofield and Ivor Annetts.

Meanwhile, Cornwall were playing Somerset over 14 boards at Exminster. Team captain Anton Barkhuysen led the way with a win against a strong opponent, but only Colin Sellwood and Robin Kneebone could follow suite and they went down 4½-9½.

Here is one of Devon’s wins in which Black has to combine pressure and patience until the big chance presents itself.

White: O. Martin (145). Black: R. Thompson (170).

King’s Indian Defence [E94]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0–0 6.Be2 Na6 7.0–0 e5 8.d5 Nc5 9.Nd2 a5 10.Rb1 Ne8 11.Na4 f5 12.f3 Bd7 13.Nxc5 dxc5 14.a3 a4 15.b4 axb3 16.Qxb3 Nd6 17.Qe3 b6 18.Ra1 Qe8 19.Bb2 f4 the start of a Kingside pawn storm. 20.Qf2 g5 21.Bd1 h5 22.h3 Bf6 23.g4 fxg3 24.Qxg3 Qe7 White’s pieces are trapped behind his own pawns and he seeks to free things up on the Queenside. 25.a4 Nf7 26.Nb1 Nh8 27.Nc3 Ng6 28.Ne2 Nf4 29.Nxf4 exf4 forcing the queen to over-extend its protective powers. 30.Qg2 Bxb2 31.Qxb2 Bxh3 32.Re1 g4 33.Qh2 Qh4 34.Be2 Qg5 35.Kh1 Kg7 36.Rg1 Kf6 37.Ra3 Rh8 38.Bd1 Qe5 39.Be2 Ke7 40.Rga1 Kd6 41.a5 White continues to seek space on the wing, but Black has a trick up his sleeve. 41…bxa5 42.Rxa5 Qxa1+! White resigned, in view of… 43.Rxa1 Rxa1+ 44.Qg1 Rxg1+ 45.Kxg1 leaving Black a rook up.

Of the English trio playing in the European Individual Championship in Croatia, David Howell finished strongly to reach 7½/11, with Adams on 7/11 and Keith Arkell on 6 pts. Once the tie-breaks have been calculated, the top 20 will qualify for the next cycle of the World Championship. Howell is close to qualifying but Adams is out of the frame, while Arkell did slightly better than his seeding.

Devon Beat Somerset

Devon overcame Somerset on Saturday by the comfortable-looking margin of 11–5, but they could still only scrape together 1½ points from the top 6 boards; from Boards 7 – 16 they dropped only a half point of the 10 available. Devon’s winners were Ken Derrick, Steve Homer, Ian Jamieson, Dave Twine. Trefor Thynne, Robert Thompson, Simon Waters, Dave Regis, Stephen Schofield and Paul Brooks. Dominic Mackle and Bill Ingham got draws.

The East Devon Congress starts on Friday evening. At the time of going to press there were 112 entries, so there is still plenty of space for late entries to be accepted.

The overwhelming favourite for the main prize is Grandmaster Keith Arkell, who now lives locally. Next month he is hoping to enter the 11th World Individual Championships, due to be held in Rijeka, Croatia from the 5th – 19th March. However, the finances of a UK chess professional are risky at best, and Keith is looking for a way to off-set part or all of the £800 expenses involved. The English Chess Federation themselves are unable to sponsor any entries and it is likely that Keith may be the only English entry. Anyone thinking of making a contribution to his “fighting fund”, however small or large, should contact Keith by phone (07757-342-477) or e-mail ( to discuss the details with him. A business sponsor might get some publicity out of it.

His best performance to date was coming 2nd in the 2002 Hastings Premier when he was undefeated. This was one of his wins.

White: V. Tseshkovsky (2545). Black: K. Arkell (2521)

Caro-Kann Defence [B17]

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nd7 5.Ng5 White is wasting time with unproductive moves. 5…Ngf6 6.Bd3 e6 7.N1f3 Be7 8.Qe2 h6 9.Ne4 c5 10.Nxf6+ Nxf6 11.dxc5 Bxc5 12.Bd2 Qd5 13.b4 Be7 14.c4 Qd8 15.0–0 0–0 16.Rfd1 Bd7 17.Bc3 Qc7 18.a4 a5 19.b5 Rfd8 20.Rac1 b6 21.Be5 Qa7 22.Nd4 Rac8 23.Bb1 Be8 24.Rd3 Nd7 allowing 25.Nc6 forking queen and rook it doesn’t look good for Black. 25…Rxc6 26.Qe4 Nxe5 27.Rxd8 Bxd8 28.bxc6 Bf6 that skirmish left Black with knight & bishop for a rook. 29.Rd1 Qc7 30.f4 Ng6 31.Qe3 Be7 now the bishops start to flex their muscles with a threat of a “skewer”. 32.Kf1 Bc5 33.Qd2 Qxc6 34.Re1?? Bb4 winning the rook, so White resigned. 0–1

Denys Bonner (1919 – 2009)

Denys Pepperell Bonner.

29.09.1919   –   03.10.2009


Above: Denys Bonner working on his postal chess move.

Denys Bonner was most active in the post-war years, first in his home town club of Exmouth, and after his move in 1954 to Yeovil, in his adopted county of Somerset. He operated at a high level in four areas of active play, correspondence chess and both composing and solving chess problems.

He came from two long-standing Sidmouth families. His father, Ernest Bonner, was a bank manager, firstly with the South West and London Bank and later the Westminster Bank. While working in the Sidmouth Branch of the S. W. & London Bank between 1908 – 1918, he met and married Emma Pepperell, whose father James ran a dairy business in Sidmouth Market Place which involved Emma and her sister. The Pepperells could trace their family back through Sir William Pepperell, a 17th century English settler in the New England state of Maine, though Sir William’s descendents, as loyalists,  fled back to England on the eve of the American War of Independence  in 1777.  This line can be traced right back to the Norman Conquest.

Their first child was Kenneth Harding Bonner, but with Emma pregnant with twins, Ernest joined the Westminster Bank and was created Manager in Wandsworth, London, where Denys and his twin sister Muriel (Mimi), were born in 1919.  About 1930, Ernest gave up his job with the bank and moved to Exmouth, where he took on the Moriglen Private Hotel in Salterton Road (below).


Denys attended a small private school, St. Martin’s in Sidmouth, and probably had much contact with his maternal grandparents, the Pepperells. On leaving school, he followed his father’s footsteps and joined the Westminster Bank. His first post was in Crowborough, Sussex, before moving to the Paignton branch.

At the outbreak of war, Kenneth joined the RAF and was later killed in action. Denys was later called up but within weeks of leaving home developed pneumonia, was released and returned to Exmouth. After the War, Mimi became a GI bride and emigrated to the U.S.

In 1943 he moved from Paignton to Exmouth. It is not clear how he spent his leisure time during the decade 1933–43, but on September 18th 1943, he got his first mention in the Exmouth Chess Club’s records by attending the A.G.M. where he was immediately elected Secretary and Treasurer, on the recent death of M. Tucker, who had filled both posts since the club’s resurrection in 1929. His position at the bank would have qualified him as Treasurer, but quite how a newcomer, as he appears to have been, could be elected to two such key posts in a matter of days is unclear. There is no evidence of any chess activity on his part before his move back to Exmouth; his first problems were published from 1943 onwards, but he may have been a member of the Paignton Club during his time there.

In February 1946 he married Betty McDonald, an expert tennis player who had won trophies at Junior Wimbledon and was equally good at Table Tennis. Denys himself was good enough at table tennis to be a Division 1 player in the local league, but Betty was better than him, eventually becoming English Ladies Over-60s Champion. They lived first in a flat in Rolle Street, Exmouth before moving to the leafy Avenues district of the town, 58, Douglas Avenue, where two daughters were born, Daphne and Penny.

During this period in Exmouth his involvement in the world of problems increased dramatically. He subscribed to B. H. Wood’s young magazine Chess (founded 1935) and in the June 1944 issue had his first 2-mover published, even though it was incorrect. It was one of a set of six positions by different composers, and the Problem Page editor, C. S. Kipping, adds the question – “Do you see anything wrong in one of these?” It was Bonner’s that was wrong, and the errors were pointed out in a subsequent issue. Quite why Kipping published an incorrect position, instead of starting a dialogue with Bonner and putting it right before publication, is not clear. Perhaps he detected the potential talent. No more problems appeared until after his marriage to Betty, when he had positions published in August and September 1946.

In addition to the composing, he was also heavily involved in solving. In Chess, Kipping published a page of problems each month in a Ladder Competition. Interested readers were invited to send in their solutions each month and points were awarded. A list of the top 150 or so was published periodically, and at the end of the year prizes were awarded on the basis of the most points gained during the previous 12 months. In March 1943 Bonner was Runner-Up, repeating the achievement in 1946 and 1947. Then in 1948 he achieved what must have been his ambition of becoming “Champion Solver”, ahead of such luminaries as Denis Mardle and Geoff Berryman. He repeated this the following year, when Kipping was moved to observe…”Mr. Bonner is to be warmly congratulated in securing the maximum points and thus winning the Championship for the second year in succession. He had hardly done any solving until he entered our lists in 1944….

Our Champion is 29 and has other activities in the way of bridge and table tennis. He has published about 16 problems and Mrs. Bonner has published two.”

Betty’s first problem had appeared in March 1947 together with one of Denys’s own – a possible contender for a small bit of chess history – husband and wife publishing problems on the same day. It is thought that it was unlikely to be a fix – though she never took up the game seriously, the family think that she knew enough to be able to compose a problem or two, with Denys on hand to check its soundness.

Chess at this time also ran tournaments for postal chess, both for teams and individuals. The records are patchy at best and difficult to plough through, but their June 1945 issue records, in an individual knockout event, Bonner beating Dr. Maurice Jago, who was Cornwall’s top postal player for many years, capable of beating anyone, and also a noted problemist. This gives some indication of the level he was playing at.

The Exmouth Club’s minutes from the early post-war years seem to be obsessed with the matter of premises and make no mention of internal tournament winners, but Bonner was probably the strongest player until the arrival around 1950 of G. T. Womack, who retired to the town and was an experienced and even stronger player. This marked the start of a minor golden period for Exmouth. Firstly, they won the Mamhead Cup that year, repeating the feat in 1951, 1952 and 1954.

Mamhead Cup   DCCA  Div 2    1950

P W D L Pts
1 Exmouth 5 4 1 0


2 Plymouth 5 4 0 1


3 Exeter 5 3 1 1


4 Torquay 5 2 0 3


5 Tavistock 5 1 0 4


6 Teignmouth 5 0 0 5


The challenges within the Exmouth Club may not have been enough for him, as he joined Exeter as well and won their championship in the 1952-53 and 1953-54 seasons. To put the achievement into some sort of perspective, the winners of that competition before and after that 2 year period were D. J. P. Gray and F. E. A. Kitto respectively, who both represented England around that time.

At the Exmouth AGM on 26th September 1953, a new venture, the creation of an Exeter & District Chess League was flagged up, and Denis Bonner was deputed to attend an exploratory meeting at the Exeter Club three days hence, to assess the interest. He was an obvious choice as he was a member of both clubs.

At this meeting, Bonner was joined by Ted Hesse (Civil Service), Denys Gray, (a pupil at Exeter School and later to become Sir Denys) and G. R. Cottew, T. J. Maddick and S. P. Gibbons of the home club. It was clear that the will was there, so the plan was put into action and a set of rules agreed. Cottew, formerly a member of the Exmouth Club before transferring to Exeter, and clearly the driving force behind this move, was elected League President and donated a cup, the Cottew Cup.

Two weeks later, Bonner reported to a Committee Meeting of the Exmouth Club. The rules were read out and discussed, and the five members present voted unanimously to join in. Womack was elected as Match Captain for the League Team, as Denys Bonner was due to move to Somerset before the end of the year.

In the event, the League’s first season comprised six clubs, namely Exeter, St. Luke’s Teacher Training College, St. Loyes College, Exeter School, Exeter University College and the Civil Service. Exmouth had no trouble in winning the League in its first season and becoming inaugural winners of the Cottew Cup. Unfortunately for Exmouth, Bonner moved to the Yeovil branch of his bank and Womack died suddenly at the end of the season. This knocked the stuffing out of Exmouth’s 1st team, and they won no more major cups in any competition for almost 20 years.

He moved to Somerset, where he rose within the ranks of the Westminter Bank, transferring at intervals between their branches at Yeovil (Chief Clerk), Glastonbury (Deputy Manager), Warminster (Manager) and back to Glastonbury as Manager.

He seemed to go from strength to strength, and played a major part in Somerset county chess in a way that he had never done on the wider Devon scene. His record of county championships over a 20 year period was second to none.

Somerset Individual Championship
Champion Joint winners
1958 D. P. Bonner
1959 D. P. Bonner
1961 D. P. Bonner
1962 D. P. Bonner R. H. Northage
1963 D. P. Bonner R. H. Northage
1964 D. P. Bonner R. H. Northage Rev. P. R. Kings
1966 D. P. Bonner
1968 D. P. Bonner R. H. Northage
1970 D. P. Bonner
1971 D. P. Bonner
1972 D. P. Bonner
1973 D. P. Bonner
1974 D. P. Bonner
1975 D. P. Bonner

He was first a member of the Yeovil Club, but after leaving there joined Wells. It wasn’t long before he had established himself as Somerset’s most versatile chessplayer. By the end of the decade he had won the county championship twice and was Somerset’s No. 1 postal player.

His problem solving and composing continued apace, becoming Chess magazine’s Solving Champion in 1957, 1958 and 1959 after which Wood stopped the competition, or Bonner would have had more successes. Instead he won the Championship of the British Chess Problem Society in 1960 and jointly in 1962.

In 1968 he took over as Somerset team captain for a few seasons and by 1972 had become a Vice President of the county.

Bonner in his prime.

Bonner in his prime.

In October 1971 Peter Clarke and his committee of six, called The Hexagon, organised the 1st Barnstaple Open, a 5 round weekend congress, a relatively new venture in its time, which attracted 70 players including Bonner. Not a large entry in number, but as regards quality, Bonner at a grade of 180 had 21 players above him. He finished with a 50% score, level with, among others, P. C. Griffiths (205) and B. H. Wood (199). It appears that the only OTB game of his that survives from his entire career is his 1st round game against committee member P. A. Jones which appeared in the congress booklet. It was a quick draw against an opponent 50 points lower-graded, played on the Friday evening after a tiring week at the bank. He probably decided that the weekend congress scene, although rapidly increasing in popularity at this time, did not fit in with his many other interests and family commitments.

His daughters Daphne and Penny, for example, had inherited all his interests and talents. Daphne was an outstanding academic, ultimately gaining an honours degree in Maths from Cambridge and a PhD from Aberdeen. She was no blue-stocking, however, playing bridge, table tennis and chess, just like her father. Aged 16, she was the youngest player at that time ever to play Table Tennis for Somerset. But her sister, 3 years younger, soon overtook her, becoming champion of both Somerset and Wiltshire and having trials for England while still in her mid-teens. She later became British Ladies Over-40s Champion. They both played chess, too, but in this it was Daphne who was the better, twice winning the Somerset U-18 Ladies’ Championship.

The talents continued down through the generations as the grandchildren continued the chess and table tennis tradition, with Grandad Denys helping with the coaching whenever the opportunity arose. Penny’s own son, Alex Perry, twice became National Champion and has 3 Commonwealth Games Gold Medals. Her daughter Lucy played for Wales in the 2006 World Championships and other son Simon won medals at the British Universities Table Tennis Championships. Daphne’s sons, Mark and Luke Russell both play, winning junior chess championships wherever they happened to be living, in Newcastle and Aberdeen, Luke becoming British U-12 Champion in 1990 at Eastbourne.

Denys retired as Manager of the Glastonbury Nat West bank in 1979 at the age of 60. In retirement, in addition to his ongoing activities in chess, bridge and table-tennis, he converted the large wooden shed at the back of his house in Street where he had a table tennis table permanently set up, into a cattery where he and Betty cared for up to 15 stray animals at a time. He also involved himself in his passions for disarmament and the future of the railways by writing letters to local and national newspapers and his MP, all those published being meticulously pasted into a cuttings book.

As regards chess, he gave up active play and concentrated on problems. In February 1986 he was one of only 13 contestants in the British Problem Solving Championship, held at the Grosvenor Hotel, London. By then approaching 70 yrs he didn’t stand much chance against the likes of Peter Clarke and double GM-in-waiting, Jonathan Mestel, but the experience was memorable.

Bonner with Leonard Barden at the 1986 Problem Solving Championship.

Bonner with Leonard Barden at the 1986 Problem Solving Championship.

Back in 1972 he had made the acquaintance of a monk at Downside Abbey School, Dom Cyprian Stockford, having played each other when the Wells Club met Downside in the Somerset League. Although they only very rarely met in person after that, they kept in touch by letter as they explored new ideas in problems, gradually extending into the more esoteric fields of Fairy Chess, in which new pieces with different powers are added to the usual armoury, and Patrol and Orphan Chess. The latter was only devised in 1971 in which an “orphan” is an unidentified piece, powerless and immobile until such time as it is attacked, whereupon it assumes the characteristics of the attacker. In Patrol Chess, devised in 1975, a piece can only capture or give check if it is protected by one of its own side.  By involving himself in these kinds of complex problems at this early stage, Denys really was pushing back the boundaries of the game itself.

Dom Cyprian recalls Bonner’s “generosity to lesser mortals”, always appreciating and encouraging any fledgling talent whenever and wherever he came across it. They often submitted Fairy problems under both names, but Cyprian happily concedes the original ideas were generally Bonner’s.

In 1993 the couple moved to Summerway in Whipton, Exeter to be near their daughter, Penny. Denys became involved in local politics, campaigning on behalf of the local Lib. Dem. candidate, Dr. Jonathan Underwood from Seaton, another excellent chessplayer.

In 2003, when the Exeter & District League was celebrating its 50th Anniversary, I visited him as part of some research I was doing on the history of the League. I had never met him before but knew that he’d started his chess career in Exmouth, and was keen to record his memories. Game as ever, he expressed a willingness to re-join the Exmouth Club and felt the train journey and walk in the dark at each end would be no problem, but then in his mid-80s it was more than anyone could expect of him, and it never materialised.

Betty died in 2001, but Denys stayed on in the house until he became too ill to care for himself. He died just days after his 90th birthday, which he had celebrated with all his family around him.

By involving himself in four different aspects of the game, not even to mention his many other interests, it might be said that his talent was spread a little too thinly, and he might have achieved an even higher level if he had concentrated on just one aspect. Yet by limiting himself in any way, he would probably have lost more than he gained. No one can balance that particular equation.

He was true chess pioneer in, first of all, leading Exmouth to early successes, and late in life working at the very frontiers of chess problem composition.

R. H. Jones.


Testimony of Daphne Russell & Penny Mann (daughters) and Dom Cyprian Stockford.

Chess magazines.

BCF Yearbooks.

Pritchard, D. P:           Encyclopaedia of Chess Variants      Games & Puzzles Publications 1994.

Hooper, D & Whyld K: Oxford Companion to Chess 2nd ed.                                                 OUP       1992

Copyright © R. H. Jones 2010  All rights reserved.