Bulletin No.25 – Poole Club Chess International
Pictured above is Roy Milner, main organiser for the international trips.
Did you know?
Back in the mid 1970s the first informal (and unofficial) Poole Club Chess International trip abroad took place visiting a team in Cherbourg. The name of Poole was chosen at the time to reflect that Poole was twinned with Cherbourg and most of the players were from the chess clubs in the Poole area (not to be confused with the current Poole Chess Club which did not exist at the time).
Rumour has it, on the club’s first trip, many of the Poole team members made their own way overnight under darkness in their small sailing boat and one of these early members was Bob Dickson (Parkstone). It would seem that chess may have been the secondary motive for the trip but it proved so successful that, over the next subsequent 20 years, other regular excursions were arranged, mainly under the management and expertise of Roy and Betty Milner, and, over time, other B&DCL and Dorset chess players and families were also invited.
Roy and Betty Milner were always exceptionally good negotiators with the local coach companies and foreign hoteliers which ensured all players received exceptional value for their english pound. Indeed, there was not one single weekend trip that exceeded £100 per person. An example of the last ever trip organised is shown below.
In truth, these trips also made a lot of sense as they were only a short journey across the English Channel and a great opportunty for local players to have an enjoyable overseas experience playing the game they loved with their families and friends.
Roy and Betty would also go out of their way for those not playing (and even for those that were) to ensure that the weekend was action packed. A detailed itinery was always produced (see example below) taking on board some of the local sites and attractions so that everyone was kept busy and entertained. In the later years, these trips proved so popular, there was often a reserve list!
Many stories have subsequently been told (and elaborated!) including the one of Greville Marples losing his bike in Rouen (see Dorset Local Chat No.3) and players being locked out of their rooms or not even making it back to their rooms but the notorious phrase ‘what happens on tour stays on tour’ has meant that many of these tales may never be told! However, it is fair to say that the true chess playing strength of the Poole Club Chess International team often depended on any high winds and volatility on the ferry trip the day before and, of course, the amount of vino flowing that same evening!
Some paparazzo photos from the afternoon event in Rouen were also retrieved including the ones below.
In the foreground on boards 13 to 15, on the right, John Oldfield (closest – Bournemouth), Barry Walker (Merck) and Alf Bullock (Parkstone) all concentrating very hard.
Again on the right, on boards 17 to 18, John Kelly (closest – Weymouth). Chris Ambrose (Parkstone), who both still play in our leagues today, in deep thought or perhaps in deep chat! Also John Turnbull (Wimborne) on board 19 further back.
On boards 22 to 20, Greville Marples (Parkstone), John Feather (Merck) and David Garlick (Bournemouth) were most definitely in deep thought!
Unfortunately there was no match scorecard for the final Rouen trip in 1995 but there was a scorecard (plus photos) for the trip to Nijmegen (Holland) in 1994, the previous year.
Sitting on the left (left to right) are players on the top 4 boards, Richard Webb (Southbourne), Bob Noyce (Southbourne), Ken Coates (Hampshire) and Martin Simons (Southbourne) all focussed on their games.
Boards 16 to 20, left to right, Peter Dearlove (Weymouth), Ivan Willis (Bournemouth), Keith Spooner (Highcliffe), David Garlick (Bournemouth) and Bob Dickson (Parkstone), one of the founding members, all contemplating their next move.
We were also fortunate that some scoresheets were retrieved so that a slightly more detailed report could be provided for Newsknight which is given below. The match was competitive on all boards, particularly the top 18 boards. However, Nijmegen, by being able to call on local chess talent, understandably had the strength in depth and dominated the bottom 8 boards to take the overall match 15.5-10.5.
For all of these trips. the evening meals were often seen as the highlight of the weekend when the wine was in full flow and everyone was able to have a relaxing time. Pictured below are famous and popular local chess stalwarts, Dennis Papworth (Kinson), Alf Bullock (Parkstone) and David Burt (Parkstone) all enjoying their meal in Rouen.
Even Dr Julian Tilney-Bassett (Parkstone – front right) was sneaking in a full glass or two although he does not appear amused that he had been caught out!
Roy was the main organiser and had the advantage of being able to speak fluently in many foreign languages hence his infamous after dinner speeches to unite both teams! Richard Holmes (Parkstone – left), who lived to become a centenarian, watches on.
Pictured below is Betty Milner receiving a gift for all her hard work in organising these very enjoyable and much loved trips.
Sadly, due to Roy’s ill health, these trips stopped in the mid 90s and the Rouen trip proved to be our last but they will always be remembered for being fond, memorable times when perhaps, thankfully, not everything was captured on camera!