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Exmouth President Becomes Champion of Champions

The Final gets under way.

The champions of all clubs affiliated to the Devon CCA are eligible to compete in the Winter-Wood Shield, a knockout tournament to identify a “Champion of Champions”, usually played in the summer, between seasons. This year it has dragged on a bit, but eventually the Exmouth and Torquay Champions met in the Final at the Newton Abbot club. The 1st game (Dunn vs Abbot) was drawn, but in the replay on Thursday, with colours reversed, Abbott came out the winner. So 2010 finishes on a bright note for the club which has had an indifferent season, compared to recent years.

The photographs show Andy Dunn in red.

The Winter-Wood Shield oversees the game.

Final of the Winter-Wood Shield – 2010.


When the Devon County Chess Association was formed in 1901, the Winter-Wood family had already been the county’s major chess dynasty for most of the 19th century. By that time, the patriarch, Thomas (1818-1905) was already well into his eighties and too old to play an active part in the new organisation, leaving that to his two sons, Edward and Carslake.

When Thomas died, his widow, Eliza Ann, offered to donate a trophy in his memory up to the value of £20, leaving it to the officials to decide its form and the nature of the competition. It was decided to have a knock-out tournament open only to the champions of club affilliated to D.C.C.A. It was presented at the AGM in October 1909 and first competed for the following summer. The original value of £20 had risen to £2,000 for insurance purposes in 1994, and remains one of the largest and most flamboyant chess trophies in the south-west, if not the whole country.

An early image of Thomas Winter-Wood on the shield.
















 This year:

This year’s entrants had been whittled down to two, and these met in the Final last evening at the Newton Abbot club; these being Andy Dunn, Champion of Torquay and Mark Abbott, Champion of the Exmouth Club. Dunn had the white pieces and opened 1.e4 to which Abbott replied with his favoured Sicilian Defence, which promised at least a lively game, if not a firework display.

Shortly after they started, the current holder of the Shield, Alan Brusey, walked in the room, and when I suggested to him it was a pity the prize could not have been there, for possible presentation at the end of the game, he immediately offered to go back home and get it, as he lived only a few minutes away. And in no time, it was in position on an adjacent table.

But by the very nature of a knockout formula, players tend to want to concentrate on avoiding defeat in order to stay in the mix, rather than going all out for a win and risking elimination, and this game never really took off, and a draw was agreed as the time control approached. A replay was agreed for 3 weeks time at Newton Abbott, with colours reversed.

In the 1950s, when such dour players as Ron Bruce and J. E. Jones were involved, multiple replays in the Winter-Wood were the norm, these two in particular often being locked into 4 or 5 replays in a single round. Jones was the Competition Secretary at this time and tried hard to change this tournament into a league, so that a draw would count as a half point, the players moving on to the next opponent, without unnecessary delays. However, this created a great furore within DCCA; the motion was defeated by the traditionalists causing Jones to leave the Association and concentrate on his other posts in WECU and the new Torbay League.

How many replays will be needed to decide this particular final?

Let battle commence (Dunn in red)

Draw agreed.

Winter-Wood Tournament 2010

The Winter-Wood Tournament is a knockout competition run during the summer months, and is open to the Champions, or their Runners-Up, of clubs affiliated to DCCA. The prize is Devon’s most ornate and valuable trophy, donated by the widow of Thomas Winter-Wood of Brixton nr. Plymouth, he being a leading light in 19th century Devon chess.

The Winter-Wood Trophy

The new club champion, Mark Abbott, has accepted his right to play, this being the first time he’s taken part in it – a new experience for him.

The draw for Rd. 1 has just been sent out by the organiser, Stephen Schofield.

1. David Twine (Plymouth) vs Dominic Mackle or Trefor Thynne (Newton Abbot)

2. Brixham Champion vs Andy Dunn (Torquay)

3. Ivor Annetts (Tiverton) vs Alan Brusey (Teignmouth)

4. Graham Bolt or Dave Regis (Exeter) vs Mark Abbott (Exmouth).

It is hoped to have a winner by DCCA’s Autumn Meeting.

Mark is in a brilliant run of form, and is capable of beating any one of the other 7 qualifiers. Whether he can do it 3 times running remains to be seen.