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March 2017
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Posts Tagged ‘Stroud Chess Co.’

Peter Clarke Memorial Results plus Stroud Chess Co.

The winners of Sunday’s 2nd Peter Clarke Memorial RapidPlay in Bude were as follows:- Open Section: 1st Lloyd Retallick (Newquay) 5½/6. 2nd= Simon Bartlett (Newquay) & Brian Gosling (E. Budleigh) 4. Grading prize: Robin Kneebone (Falmouth) 3.

U-140 Section: 1st= Steve Woolgar (Bristol) & Ian Rescorla (Bude) 4. Grading prize:  Richard Smith (Barnstaple) 2½.

A century or so ago, Stroud in Gloucestershire was a busy centre of chess activity. It was home of the British Chess Company, founded by William Moffat (1843 – 1918) and William Hughes. They sold general chess equipment, from scoresheets to instructional books, but particularly sets made in cheaper modern alternatives to the traditional ivory ones made by Jacques, helping to bring them within reach of those with more modest incomes.

Also in the town were the offices of a new chess magazine, The Chess Amateur, started in 1916 and running until 1930, when it may have become a victim of the Great Depression. This was part of a publishing house run in George Street, Stroud, by Harry Harmer of a long-standing local family. Whether the two companies were connected in some way is not clear.

The magazine was lighter and brighter in tone and appearance than the more staid British Chess Magazine, founded in 1880 and still running today. Its regular contributors included Harold Meek, with a “Half Hours” column, who later donated the West of England’s Inter-County trophy, and Carslake Winter-Wood (“News & Notes”). The American, Alain C. White, wrote articles on chess problems and organised solving tournaments, as he also did for BCM. Also, when he started editing his famous Christmas Series of problem books (44 titles between 1905 and 1934, and now highly collectable), the majority were printed in Stroud.

It is, perhaps, no coincidence that the demise of the The Chess Amateur in 1930 led B. H. Wood to spot a gap in the market which he was happy to fill in 1935 when he founded his Chess magazine, which he ran for over half a century.

I recently acquired a small 32p booklet entitled Fifty Pawn Problems, published by the British Chess Company of Stroud and costing 4d (1½p). It gives no date or author, but it has been stated elsewhere that it forms the 1st section of a later book by J. H. Blake entitled Chess Endings For Beginners which went to a 2nd edition in 1901. This would strongly suggest that my booklet is in fact by the Hampshire man, Joseph Henry Blake (1859 – 1951), and must have been published c. 1895.

In last week’s position, Black could achieve both his aims of avoiding mate and maintaining his material advantage by playing Qe7! which places an additional attacking piece on the advanced rook, and cannot be taken because of Rd1 mate.

Here is position No. 6 from that penny ha’penny booklet, with the instruction White to play and mate in 2.

White to play and mate in 2

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