Dorset Local Chat N0.10 – The Dorset Rapidplay – 25 years strong and last UK Chess Tournament standing in 2020 by Martin Simons and Mike Jay
How it all started, then developed – The Tuckton Social Club years (1995 – 2012) – Martin Simons discusses these early years
(pictured above Bruce Jenks playing in the first Rapidplay to be run at Greyfriars, Ringwood in 2014. Before that, there had been 18 Rapidplays at Tuckton. Bruce has so far won the Rapidplay a record 8 times).
Back in 1995, a one-off Dorset Rapidplay tournament was held to re-introduce fun speed chess in the Bournemouth and Dorset area. Whilst Rapidplay events had been held in the early 1980s at the newly named Alderney Manor Community Association premises in Herbert Avenue, Poole, and were mainly organised by one of the finest and most popular players Dorset has ever seen, Steve Shutler (Parkstone), there was still no regular event.
Initially held on a trial basis at the rickety old, but nevertheless cosy, Tuckton Social Club (home venue of Southbourne Chess Club and pictured below), the 1st Dorset Rapidplay Championship attracted such a positive response that it immediately became clear this could become a regular (annual) feature in the local chess calendar.
Here is a report, with scores, on that very first 1995 Dorset Rapidplay as it appeared in Newsknight. 40 players took part – a great entry for an inaugural event!
And below is the report Alan Dommett submitted to the local Echo papers and published a few days after the event.
Even in its first year, many of the current ingredients were already there – free refreshments, a large free lunch (including all the current hot pots we still see today) and a great spread of prizes to ensure everyone had a chance of winning. The tournament was run on a shoestring budget in these early years, only £300 compared to today’s £1,500, and there was only a modest first prize of £50 but given there was such a pleasant and ‘family friendly’ atmosphere, the chess was almost secondary and this popular tournament already seemed destined for success. Unfortunately, it meant I was destined to be the future Controller and when I was not doing this, I had all the kitchen duties … but I also had a sneaky plan, the first player to lose after lunch had to do all the washing up! It was perhaps, unsurprising, that all games went the distance in the round immediately after lunch with some players playing on several queens down!
Pictured below are early winners, the 1998 joint Rapidplay Champions, Mike Waddington and Ben Hirsch with Organiser, Controller and Caterer etc, Martin Simons.
Also, in 1998, here is a picture below of play in progress, showing how snug it was inside the club. Martyn Adams, B&DCL President (1995 to 2001 & 2002 to 2003), can be seen playing Alan Primett (Southbourne favourite) on the 4th board along, and Dr Cyril Josephs (New Milton) playing Keith Spooner (Highcliffe) 2nd board along. All these players were loyal supporters of the Rapidplay.
In 1999 the strong Southbourne player Graham White won with a 100% 6/6. Here is how Alan Dommett reported it in the Echo and also analysed part of a key game played against Ben Hirsch, who used to play for Bournemouth School in the early 80s.
Initial numbers at Tuckton Social Club in the early years were normally between 30 to 40 ‘Dorset’ players, as the premises could not really hold many more but, gradually over time, players from outside of Dorset were keen to play.
Pictured below more evidence of close encounters at Tuckton! Phil Holt (front left), B&DCL League Controller, regularly attended the event.
During the years that followed, the tournament was refined slightly – many of the top great games were directly reported onto the Controller’s laptop during live play and then published (with most comments intact!) in the B&DCL’s Newsknight magazine.
And in this photo from 2010 you can just make out Rapidplay stalwarts Paul Jackson (Bournemouth) and Keith Spooner (Purbeck) on the right.
In 2011, with a record attendance of 46 players, Len Laker excelled becoming the new Rapidplay Champion with 6/6, including wins against 4 of the top 8 seeds. His last round success against the 2010 Champion Bruce Jenks capped a day to remember for Len. At the time, and for this competition, we introduced a new rule that anyone losing a game qualified to help with the washing-up and it is said this may have motivated Len to win all his games and achieve a 220 grading performance.
Here below, Alan Dommett described Len’s success in the Echo
After 18 consecutive tournaments it was bursting at the seams and with the threat that Tuckton Social Club was to be knocked down, the tournament was moved to the Greyfriars Community Centre in 2014. This followed a friendly approach and kind offer from Mike Jay, Ringwood, to help organise this event and to allow for more players to be accommodated, particularly from Hampshire and Wiltshire, whilst maintaining its ‘family friendly’ theme. It also allowed me to focus more on just controlling the event and watching some chess (but only on the condition I still continued with the hot pots!).
The date of the event was also moved from Autumn to Spring in the hope for more pleasant conditions but unbeknown to the new organiser, the Beast from the East including much snow arrived in March 2018 and let’s not forget the Coronavirus this year. Over to Mike …
And more recently – The Greyfriars years (2014 – 2020) – Mike Jay picks up on the reporting
This was a major change, and something of a risk to bring the Rapidplay 10 miles up the road to Ringwood in 2014 after so many successful years at Tuckton. It was also slightly controversial to locate the event technically in Hampshire, albeit on the Dorset border. However, the 200-year-old venue, Greyfriars, with its labyrinth of rooms and halls, and full of character, was immediately popular. Also, the well-equipped kitchens were ideal for the now legendary Rapidplay lunches, pioneered by Martin.
(Painting of Greyfriars, by Dr Tabitha Smith 2016, below)
With more space than Tuckton, the number of people wishing to play grew into the 50’s and then the high 60’s and eventually low 70’s. And with the introduction of chess books and DVDs as prizes this has meant in recent years, everyone walked away with a prize! What had not been fully envisaged was the event would attract, and remain popular with, many players from outside Dorset, especially Southampton and Wiltshire. For example, there were years when more than 10 members of Salisbury Chess Club entered.
Pictured below play from an early round in the Ann Rose Hall at the 2016 Rapidplay, Greyfriars. In subsequent years play moved to the largest hall at Greyfriars, because entries increased to over 70.
The 2018 March Rapidplay will be remembered for, of all things, snow – and a lot of it. Heavy falls and drifting, made it impossible for 18 entrants to travel, but the event still went ahead as we had our own virtual snow plough!
And here was the Rapidplay Director and Controller, Martin Simons, carrying out an umpires inspection in the grounds at Greyfriars on that Sunday morning, some hours before play was due to begin. It is believed Martin may have read an old weather forecast to expect sun bathing conditions and a warm and sunny day.
Amazingly, given the conditions, it included 6 Isle of Wight players, who amongst other things, won the Team Prize. It was excellent to have players from the Isle of Wight for the first time and, most fittingly, they should win a team prize after overcoming the dire weather conditions. The fact they managed to arrive at all was a headline. It just emphasised their commitment and enthusiasm.
And here are the winners of the 2018 Rapidplay who also braved the snow! (left to right: Peter Anderson, John Weatherlake, Grzegorz Sawicki and Mike Waddington)
And in 2020, we introduced a DGT board for live reporting! Unfortunately, the 2020 Rapidplay was caught up in the Coronavirus pandemic and we were in two minds, right up to the last minute, whether it could run. However, it did take place with 48 entrants and was won by Matt Turner, Millfield School, the first ever GM to enter the event. In the future, people may wonder what the following photo is all about, but it reflects that this tournament was the last UK chess tournament to be played before the Lockdown when no handshakes were allowed!
This 25th anniversary was a fitting opportunity to make a presentation to Martin Simons (pictured below) – who not only, of course, ran and organised the inaugural Tuckton event, but had also controlled and directed every Rapidplay since. A remarkable achievement for an immensely popular annual Dorset event. It was explained that, in the early Rapidplays, Martin had somehow managed everything from setting up the room, controlling the event, cooking lunch and washing up. Astonishingly, he even managed to also play very occasionally, becoming Rapidplay Champion in 2006 & 2008! That must surpass all other chess champions like Magnus Carlsen, who apparently do not have to organise pairings, make sandwiches and put the sets out, as well as play.
It says everything about Martin, one of Dorset’s best ever players, that in 40 years of club and congress chess he has so often turned down the chance to play, with excellent chances of winning these events; instead organising and putting the pleasure of others first.
In summary by Martin Simons & Mike Jay
Many local top players over the tournament’s ’25 years not out’ have become the Dorset Rapidplay Champion and it is pleasing to report that one of the joint winners in the tournament’s inaugural year, and a winner 4 times out of its first 6 years, Graham White (now a Wimborne player), and also Bruce Jenks (now a Highcliffe player), who has won it most times (8 in total), both still play regularly today with plenty of enthusiasm! Ian Clark is perhaps the most durable player with 24 years between his first and last win!
Pictured below is one of the tournament’s favourite characters, Bruce Jenks, receiving the trophy from the Organiser & Controller, Martin Simons, in 2010.
Looking back we think the Rapidplay has had it all with many positive things for it to be remembered by … An old cosy tournament hall where it all began, free refreshments, free book prizes for all, live laptop commentary (plus Newsknight reporting), the Beast from the East, a live DGT board and finally it was the last tournament standing in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic! However, perhaps the one common thing it is always remembered for and that is its friendliness which is why so many players have made so many new friends and then return year after year.
And finally, with Mike Jay now retiring from all ‘chess duties’ it is not entirely clear about the tournament’s future, but once the current pandemic is over, we are sure ‘where there is a will there is normally a way!’
And here are previous “Dorset Local Chats”
Dorset Local Chat – Read all about it in the Bournemouth Echo, where else?!
The Rise and Fall of the Bournemouth (and Dorset) Echo Chess Columnist! by Martin Simons
(Dorset Local Chat No. 9)
Many of us may now struggle to remember life without internet, websites and emails but it was only about 20 years ago that there was neither a Dorset Chess Website nor any individual chess club websites. Furthermore, not everyone had emails. It is therefore perhaps amazing to think how we ever succeeded in passing information on to each other given how limited technology was then. Much of this communication was therefore undertaken by post – I always remember posting out the B&DCL Team Handicap Knockout Cup draws in the mid-90s. In addition, not many people even had mobile phones then so the landline telephone was often used as a means for contacting players. However, perhaps the service that most of our local members relied on to be kept informed was the weekly chess column provided in the Bournemouth Echo and the Dorset Daily Echo.
This journey was sometimes a bit bumpy for the Echo Chess Columnist, particularly in the latter years, as he fought and clamoured his way to get his chess news on to the back pages (for the 300 local chess players) and ahead of some late sports news about the beloved ‘Cherries’ which had a small following of only a mere 50,000 readers! Thankfully, in most cases, the relationships with past Echo editors and sub-editors were exceptionally good, as they seemed to take an active interest in the local chess scene, appreciating the game as a significant and beneficial mind sport.
In the 50s, 60s, 70s and early 80s, this ‘reliable’ Echo chess service was provided in the Bournemouth area mainly by the hard working and industrious Guy Machon (Kinson) and over a similar but shorter period across the wider Dorset area by Richard Mann (Parkstone) then Paul Foster (Weymouth). Indeed, in relation to the Bournemouth Echo, Guy always had quite a large regular slot on Wednesday evenings – this seemed to be a great era for local chess, particularly immediately following the much-publicised Fischer v Spassky World Chess Championship match in 1972, when our local club memberships soared!
Given below is an extract from a Bournemouth Echo chess cutting from 1971, and is a good example of how much Guy Machon crammed in, and this was only half of his total chess column! You may, even at this early stage, also recognise a small reference to Bournemouth’s last ever local chess columnist!
And here is an extract of a detailed ‘chess chat’ report from Richard Mann in the Dorset Echo in 1968.
In the mid 80s, the Bournemouth Echo ‘Chess Columnist’ baton was passed onto the very positive, upbeat and popular Steve Shutler (BDH) who generally had good but sometimes intermittent chess column success. By the early 90s, more concerns had been raised but with a little help from David Burt, then B&DCL Chairman, who contacted the Echo in 1993 to ‘clear the air’ (as reported in the B&DCL chess magazine ‘Newsknight’), the relationship and service improved. Pictured below is the very likeable Steve Shutler who was also a very strong chess player.
In the mid-90s the role was then passed onto a slightly reluctant but willing volunteer, Alan Dommett, perhaps fearing it to be a bit of a ‘poisoned chalice’. Indeed, when he took over, the ‘regular’ Echo chess column had again become perhaps a little ‘irregular’. However, following his arrival, the level of service picked up once again. Although the slot sometimes did not always appear on a Wednesday, it did appear on a Friday … or was it a Tuesday, maybe a Saturday or even a Monday!
The Echo cutting below is taken from Wednesday 31st March 1999, reflecting a recognisable successful format which the Echo team liked with a chess diagram and an analysis of a game yet also clearly showing a need for all league matches to be reported – Further Alan had his own name in print showing the Echo’s appreciation of his professional work – Good times.
By the 2000s, some more technical issues started to reoccur, not exactly sure why this was the case, but as Michael Litchfield suggests, this might have been because the paper’s production staff – all non-players – had difficulty understanding the chess fraternity’s secret language and the difference between actual moves and analysis. However, following a meeting at Alan’s home with the Echo’s deputy editor, Ed Perkins, to see how the column could be tailored to requirements, matters once again improved. Indeed, Perkins took such a keen interest in Alan’s work that that he wrote a full, two-page feature on Alan in the Echo’s Saturday magazine to promote chess in the region and the column. Over the next few years, the Echo was generally very supportive particularly during the editorship of Neal Butterworth but there was also a lot of pressure on space and the Echo was beginning to understand that perhaps chess did not have such a large following as it once had.
By the 2010s, and with Alan perhaps surprisingly still at the helm, it had become clear his ‘rudder’ at the Echo was beginning to lack influence. Even the Bournemouth Echo Chess Problem column by Ivor Saunders, which had a mass following of, allegedly, just five readers and their dog, had a more regular slot than Alan’s weekly chess news. Put simply, the Echo’s sports staff knew nothing about chess and seemed to have zero interest in it, but, for some reason, enjoyed a good chess problem! It was once reported that one sub-editor spent a whole half-day trying to work out, what he thought was a mathematical equation, gxh8=Q!
Pictured below is a pensive Alan who could be preparing for his next ‘do or die’ Echo Chess Column and wondering whether it would be his last.
Following the premature death of the Bournemouth Echo’s Editor, Neal Butterworth, the final nail in the chess column’s coffin was about to be driven home. The new incumbent decided that chess didn’t sell newspapers and the chess column was given its final rights in 2011.
And so rumour has it, and this is likely to go down in folklore history, that the ‘Video really did Kill the Radio Star’ or in this case ‘The Bournemouth Echo killed the Chess Columnist Star’ but please do not call Alan ‘Buggles’!
And given below for those who like to reminisce was the last ever Bournemouth Echo Chess Column published on the 17th December 2011 – RIP!
Steve Peirson describes the history of the Dorset Blitz
Dorset Chess Blitz Championship History (Dorset Local Chat No. 8)
The idea of having a Dorset Blitz Championship came to me after it became apparent that the top GMs regularly played – and had separate grades for – chess played with standard, rapidplay and blitz time controls. We already had the Dorset Open organised by Ian Clark and the Dorset Rapidplay organised by Mike Jay so I thought we needed a Dorset Blitz to complete the set. When I raised the idea at the next DCCA committee meeting I met with the not entirely unexpected response ‘great idea – get on and organise it’!
I already had an idea for the venue – Furzebrook village hall (see photo above). Furzebrook is a small hamlet on the outskirts of Wareham – quite how they managed to get such a magnificent edifice for a village hall is beyond me! So it was that over the Easter weekend of 2017, Martin Simons and I went to the hall and were shown round by Tina, the hall’s representative. As those of you who have played in one of the tournaments will know, the main hall can easily cope with 100 players, there is a small hall which is ideal for lunch, a fantastic kitchen and parking for a good 40 cars. So, holding the tournament there was a bit of a no-brainer.
We wanted to maximise the amount of chess played so it quickly became apparent that, with such short games, we would have to try and minimise the time between rounds. To this end we settled on having a number of all-play-all groups, removing the need for a time-consuming draw between rounds. For the first tournament in 2017, we decided to have 11 rounds with players having 10 minutes each for the game, no increment. Martin agreed to supply the food as he does for the Rapidplay so we were all set. In the end we had 30 players who were split into 3 groups. I was hoping to be able to watch some of the games but I seemed to spend most of my time between rounds serving tea and coffee and washing up while play was in progress.
The overall winner was Keith Gregory so he became the first Dorset Chess Blitz Champion (see photo above). The day after the tournament, Martin rang me up and pointed out that Keith neither lived in Dorset nor played in either of the leagues – there was no way I was going to ask Keith for the trophy back so I simply turned the tournament from a Closed into an Open and it’s been that way ever since!
A more detailed report can be found on the Dorset Chess website here:
and full results with a list of prize winners here:
Many people came up to me afterwards to say how much they had enjoyed the day – I think mainly because of a combination of fantastic venue and Martin’s lunch – so I decided I would try to make it an annual event.
For the second tournament in 2018, we again had 30 entrants. As we were able to split them into 3 groups of 10, we made the decision to have 9 rounds rather than the advertised 11. As we wanted the players to have essentially the same amount of chess as they would have had over 11 rounds, we increased the time limit from the planned 5 mins. + 5 secs. to 10 mins. + 5 secs. Once again, I was the only person present who wasn’t playing so I again spent much of my time serving tea and coffee and washing up! Martin’s lunch went down as well as ever – I’m sure quite a few turn up for the lunch and treat the chess as a bonus! We had a particularly exciting top group with the final result being a 3-way tie between Mark Littleton, Paul Hampton and Martin Simons (see photo below).
For a full report, results and photos see:
In 2019 we had a record entry of 36 players (see photo at the head of this page). In fact, at one point before the tournament we had 39 entries but somebody had to drop out due to illness, then Mike Jay said he would rather help than play and finally Martin Simons magnanimously withdrew to give us a round number of 36 which split nicely into 3 groups of 12. As related above, in the past I had been the only non-player present which meant I spent most of my time in the kitchen. This year I had Martin to control the event and Mike did sterling work in the kitchen. In addition, Dorset’s newly appointed Junior Chess Coordinator Nikki Forster turned up to support son James but also helped out in the kitchen (see photo below). So, this left me with little to do but enjoy the chess!
It was very pleasing to see 7 juniors and they certainly gave the more mature participants a run for their money, winning both group A and group C. In stark contrast to the previous year, the result of group A was never really in any doubt. Despite a slip up in round 3 when he lost to Jamie MacDonald, Declan Lovelock ran away with it, winning all his other games to score 10 / 11. Unfortunately, due to technical problems, we don’t have a photo of Declan being presented with the trophy, but he can be seen in action against 2017 winner Keith Gregory in the photo at the top of this page.
For a full report and results see:
I would like to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to Martin Simons – he gave me a lot of advice when getting ready for the first tournament, he has always provided one of his now famous lunches, he has participated and he has controlled it when not playing and wherever I’ve said ‘we’ in the preceding paragraphs I’ve meant Martin and me so thanks Martin.
The tournaments have until now been played in mid-September but, given the current situation with the Covid-19, we thought it best to put the date back to later in the year to give us the best chance of being able to go ahead with it. Now, it’s obviously too early to say whether or not the tournament will actually take place at all this year but I have booked Furzebrook village hall for Sunday, 4th October ’20 so hopefully I’ll see you all then.
Steve Peirson, Organiser
20 May 2020
“Dorset Local Chat” – Ringwood, Purbeck & Wimborne explain their online initiatives (No. 7)
Dorset Online Chess Review (7B)
It seems a strange paradox that amidst all the upset, tragic news and misery from Covid-19, chess should benefit from a huge online surge in interest globally. Although figures are not available, there are most probably many new online players in Dorset, especially juniors. And for nearly all established players in our county, online chess is currently the only way to continue playing.
National newspapers have been describing events like Magnus Carlsen’s recent rapidplay online “Invitational” as an “adrenaline” sport, “fast, furious and tense”. 10m apparently followed the event on chess24. These are not, of course, words the public at large would normally associate with chess, but just shows how the image of the game is changing.
Chess.com, who claim 1.5m UK members, say the number registering to play each day is in the thousands and it has been “bonkers”.
Although we must obviously strongly welcome these developments, it is perhaps worth reflecting that for many, the enjoyment of playing chess is the social side of meeting and playing in clubs, weekend tournaments and so on. In the most recent ECF Newsletter (May), Editor Mark Rivlin captured these sentiments with this paragraph in his editorial:
“This is not only about the tension a face-to-face live encounter generates, but of equal importance is the social aspect in team and tournament chess. The ritual of leaving the house, reaching the match or tournament and meeting up with your colleagues and friends, the frisson of excitement as a game begins, and in a team situation, the collective watching in agony or ecstasy as the final board strives to save a match point in a time scramble. All of these scenarios, along with the post-match gathering in a local hostelry, reinforce this social impact effect. Having had this taken away we appreciate how much we miss OTB chess and a return can’t come soon enough”.
So, being parochial for a moment, how are we in Dorset responding to the online developments and what can we learn? Or will it all eventually return to “normal”?
Firstly, a description of online initiatives at 3 Dorset clubs – Ringwood, Purbeck and Wimborne. Followed by some observations on the new online 4NCL competition, replacing the otb event cancelled due to the pandemic
Martin Clancy, Ringwood Chess Club explains here how he has recently set up regular online chess for 2 groups and it has gone well.
“It is based on lichess.org teams and split between Ringwood Chess Cub which is restricted to club members and Ringwood Chess Tournaments. The latter started out to include players from any Dorset and Southampton based club, but in truth is open to more or less anyone who claims a link to any Dorset or Southampton League/Wiltshire chess club.
Ringwood Chess Club has 19 members and “meets” on Monday night. They are currently doing an hour of a chess variant and an hour of blitz. The biggest turnout amongst those has been 11 for one of the variants, which have proved great fun to date. We have now done the 4 sensible variants and one of the wilder ones with three more to do.
Ringwood Chess Tournaments overlaps with the Ringwood club, but has 48 members and meets Wednesday evening, and Friday and Saturday afternoon. The sessions here are mainly Blitz, but Wednesday we do an hour of themed openings. It is a bit hit or miss. The Winawer was painful for most, the Kings Gambit pretty good fun. Turnout has been good especially for the Wednesday night blitz, which usually attracts 15 to 20 players.
For serious chess, the time control we have generally used is 5+3 and 3+3 (minutes + seconds increment). We will likely try faster time controls in the future, but less likely to try slower. The variants have been popular so I will likely cycle them around again”
Andy Baskett, also Ringwood Chess Club reports on a current junior chess club initiative involving ChessKid.com
“Our first foray into junior chess coaching started off (both Martin and I agree) much better than expected. From various “marketing” sources our first session in Ringwood Library attracted 12 children. These numbers stabilised down a bit over the coming weeks but by week 5 we were steady at 8 or 9 children every Saturday … and then Covid-19 struck and the over-the-board sessions ground to an instant halt.
We quickly moved online to ChessKid.com. Setting accounts up was very straight forward and the site is top quality and fully focused on child safety. We don’t include any identifying information to set up accounts – and children are given auto-generated nick-names. Our first online Saturday tournament attracted 5 children who played 3 rounds of 10-minute blitz. After extending the invite to the wider Dorset Libraries Group, we ultimately have 25 children signed up and began running tournaments every day. So far, we have had run 31 tournaments usually 5 rounds of blitz which take the children around 50 minutes. We’ve had 13 playing some days and the average is around 10. So that works out at approximately 300 hours of junior chess, which is incredible. The speed at which the children; learn watching the 600+ ChessKid.com videos and lessons is astonishing. It would be almost impossible to achieve that speed of teaching and focus in a classroom. I’m sure there is a pedagogical aspect missing from this, plus undoubtedly motivation for those less enthusiastic for the chess and who enjoy the social aspect more, but, although I’ve no metrics, my personal view is that for enthusiastic learners, the rate of improvement far exceeds what we could have achieve at a 1 hour library session. A future improvement may be to integrate a Zoom/Skype aspect into the ChessKid.com video training so that there is a “classroom” interaction and some direction by the coach, but I see ChessKid.com as a very viable supplement to coaching and at the most junior level, a great way to get more children involved very quickly and with absolutely minimum effort.
More information on the way we set up the clubs and create the accounts together with the forms we used can be found here: https://sites.google.com/view/junior-chess-club-setup”
Steve Peirson, Nick Stout & Purbeck Chess Club
Pictured above is the Purbeck team who won the Dorset Jamboree 2017. Left to right: Nicholas Stout, Chris Frost, Derek Mount, Brian Beard and Paul Stanley and, because we were actually one man short, Dorchester’s David Aldwinckle also played for us (not in the picture).
Notes written by Steve Peirson, the Purbeck Secretary. Steve also organises the 1 day Dorset Blitz each year, which takes places at Furzebrook, near Wareham typically in September.
“Yes, Nick has created a Purbeck Chess Club group on Chess.com. Also, Derek has got a Zoom account so what we tend to do is ‘meet up’ in Zoom at around 7pm on a Monday evening for a chat and then pair off for a few games of chess. It’s all very informal as we all seem to like different things! Some prefer blitz, some prefer 1 day / move and I know Derek has played against Paul just using Zoom where they each have a board and tell each other their moves! We did try a tournament, but Nick set it up for 1 move / day and I quickly realised I wasn’t keen on the format – I was playing 4 games simultaneously and I couldn’t stop thinking about them, which made working difficult! We currently have 8 of us signed up and we’ve opened it up to non-club members who either went to the café on a Thursday or who are in Derek’s U3A group. We have thought about challenging other clubs to an online match but I think we need a bit more practice before we try that!”
Graham Hillman, Wimborne Chess Club
“For just over a month now Wimborne Chess Club has been holding online Tournaments via the www.lichess.org portal .
We are playing a 5-minute Blitz Tournament, no increments every Monday morning at 11-00 am.
We also hold a 2nd Wednesday evening meeting at 7-30, 10 minutes and 5 second increments. The Wednesday evening is proving more popular and is a direct replacement for OTB club nights. We are getting 10-15 and its growing steadily
We do not exclude external players, in fact we have people joining from far dominions such as Denmark & Dartford (Kent)
The joining instructions are to be found on the Wimborne Chess Club Website – http://www.wimbornechessclub.org.uk/ under the title of Online Games – http://www.wimbornechessclub.org.uk/online-games.html
We are also hoping to use www.chess.com in the near future and intend to engage the Juniors through similar exercises. This latter activity is work in progress but we already have Juniors using www.lichess.org for Tutorials”.
Keith Gregory, Wessex Teams overall organiser 4NCL, both online and over the board
Keith has been impressed with how a 4NCL online competition was set up so quickly when the over the board event was cancelled due to the pandemic. It has been possible to enter 3 Wessex “All Stars” teams and at the time of writing this (mid May) they have all competed well. For example, the A & C teams have chances of promotion when the final stages take place. The format of a weekly 45 minutes a game plus 15 secs seems to be acceptable and is working well so far. All games can be watched live. For example, by having a split screen with 12 games running simultaneously. And they stay available afterwards for reference.
Above all, Keith mentioned how popular this new format is – 172 teams and over 600 players. And he is especially pleased it has drawn teams from parts of the UK which were never previously able to enter because of distance, cost etc. For example – Scotland, Northern Ireland and Cornwall. Plus, many moving stories like the highly enthusiastic and well organised Sheffield Deaf club who have had a first opportunity to test themselves in a strong national competition, without leaving home.
Purbeck, Ringwood and Wimborne Chess Clubs are to be applauded on their initiatives to fill the void in otb chess and also reflect the surge of interest in online chess. It is hoped, by including the details of their excellent reports, it may help other clubs who are perhaps thinking of going down a similar path.
This “Dorset Local Chat” article (2) and the one that appeared last Wednesday (1) have not attempted to discuss all the advantages and drawbacks of online chess, but simply report on developments that have taken place in our county in a very short space of time – effectively just 2 months.
As mentioned earlier in this report, there will be, understandably, regular club members who just long to only get back to over the board chess, whenever that might be. Also, it is to be hoped that there will be many, who newly attracted to online chess, now want to go and join an established club when things return to normal. Another real possibility for future consideration is for some form of ongoing online chess to be an option offered by the B&DCL/DCCA and, or, Dorset club level. Obviously, we have all learned that online chess can be set up quickly and easily, e.g. in an emergency when normal chess is impossible. The 4NCL in an online format with 600 players and 172 teams, was apparently set up in just over 2 weeks.
Looking forward, all options will be on the table both in Dorset and elsewhere. The prevailing and current view continues to be that online chess will increasingly support and complement otb chess. Perhaps we will look back and say that this was a time when online chess came of age.
15 May, 2020
(pictured above, play at the Dorset Junior Chess Championships February, 2020 in Bournemouth. The online training and development junior chess app ChessKid.com is proving hugely effective and very popular with juniors)
“Dorset Local Chat” – Since March, huge new interest in online chess – Online (No. 7A)
What will it look like post the pandemic and will there be new opportunities?
Chess players all over Dorset will have been watching with interest how online chess has quickly filled some of the void as a result of the virus spread and traditional club over the board (otb) chess being impossible.
Headline grabbing, of course, has been Magnus Carlsen’s $250,000, 8 players online Super-Chess tournament in April. But also last month, 4NCL announced their event had moved online, 45 minutes each + 15 seconds a game and with a record 172 teams and 600+ players; it is proving highly successful and is reaching out to all parts of the British Isles.
Dorset players Christian Westrap, Allan Pleasants, Bill Adaway, John Weatherlake, Chris Leeson and Larissa Cuthbert have already been active and successful participants, with several more apparently now keen to get a place in the 3 Wessex teams. Keith Gregory is the hard-working and committed Wessex Teams Organiser.
Ringwood Chess Club, through the leadership and enthusiasm of Martin Clancy and Andy Baskett, has launched online initiatives which have enjoyed a very good take-up, especially the “Ringwood Chess Tournaments”. These have been open to Dorset, Hampshire and Wiltshire players and so far, an excellent 48 have joined for the sessions on Wednesday evenings, and Friday and Saturday afternoons. These are run through lichess, involving Blitz games, but on a Wednesday, there is a popular hour covering themed openings, like the Winawer.
Andy Baskett has introduced the widely acclaimed online ChessKid.com for juniors, replacing the new Ringwood and existing Castlepoint Library sessions which were going well when Covid-19 struck. Andy estimates, in just a few weeks, 300 hours of junior chess have been played, with an incredible 31 tournaments. As will be explained in next Saturday’s Dorset Local Chat, Andy’s personal view is the 600+ ChessKid videos have significantly advanced learning, as they are so popular and brilliantly created. He is therefore most enthusiastic about what has been achieved in a short time and especially how much potential there is.
Finally, just recently, the ECF has announced several new online competitions, including a County Championship and invited counties, including Dorset to express an interest. Malcolm Steevens, DCCA Secretary is consulting clubs in the County, and is especially keen to identify a potential Dorset organiser. Given there would no longer be any need to travel, hence also no expense, which are the main two reasons why we have not participated in recent years, we hope there will be support for a Dorset team.
So, what might this all mean for Dorset players? A number of organisers like Martin Clancy, but outside our county too, originally took the view that online sessions might discontinue once we all got back to “normal”. However, a more prevailing and current view might be that online chess will complement otb chess and this can only be seen to be a positive thing.
Next Saturday, Dorset Local Chat, Dorset Chess – Online (2) will include reports from Andy Baskett and Martin Clancy on their experiences so far, plus comments from Keith Gregory re the 4NCL online initiative. There will be other reports including an interesting flexible Monday evening online initiative at Purbeck.
The ECF produces an excellent NEWSLETTER each month, made available electronically to members first. The May edition especially features all the new on-line initiatives, including an ambitious campaign to get one million children playing chess during the lockdown, launched by Chess in Schools
Purbeck Chess Club – Dorset’s newest (Millennium) chess club and picturesque settings! – with lots of thanks to Brian Beard and Steve Peirson for a more personal account of the evolution of their club. (No. 6)
Did you know?
Brian Beard had been Treasurer of Petts Wood & Orpington Chess Club for many years and was due to become club secretary in 2003. However, due to the frailty of his wife’s parents who lived at Kingston in Purbeck, they moved down to Langton Matravers where they already owned a house.
Discovering that Swanage Chess Club had disbanded following the demise of its secretary, Brian decided to form a new local club. Whilst still in Kent he made some Purbeck local press announcements and talked to both Malcolm Steevens and the now departed Alf Bullock from Poole. Both were enthusiastic and Alf very kindly pointed him in the direction of Dominic Barker who was then a Poole member. The positive response led Brian to setup Purbeck Chess Club which started with six members: Dominic Barker (120), Derek Hyde (145), Colin Grant (140), Dave Foster (122), David Bryant (140) and Brian himself (80). Elected secretary, he “volunteered” Colin as club captain and David as treasurer. A few months later Alan Perkins (115) also joined. Such was the strength of the members that Brian arranged with Malcolm to enter the Dorset League Division 2.
Our first venue was Harman Cross Village Hall, then we moved to Corfe Castle British Legion and in 2009 we moved to Mortons House Hotel which still remains the club’s home (see picture at head of page).
Purbeck spent several years playing in division 3 but for the 2010-11 season we entered an A team in division 2 and a newly formed B team in division 4. The following season the Dorset league went down to 3 divisions so the B team were ‘promoted’ to division 3 and that’s how it’s been ever since! However, in 2016 we wanted to provide more playing opportunities for those players who could not get a regular place in the B team so we formed a C team which was entered into the B&DCL league division 4 for the 2016-17 season.
Over the years we had some good seasons and some bad seasons but our high point came in 2015-16 when the A team won division 2 a clear 5 points ahead of second placed Poole. The A team also came perilously close to winning again in 2017-18 when it came down to the final match of the season. We needed to beat Wimborne C 3 – 1 to win the title and we were 2 – 1 up with just 1 game to finish which we therefore needed to win. On board 1, Steve Peirson was playing Wimborne’s Mark Littleton and managed to generate a strong attack on Mark’s king. Unfortunately, Mark defended well and, after time trouble mistakes by both players, a draw was finally agreed which meant Wimborne won the league L.
Our only other success came in 2017 when we won the Dorchester Jamboree (with a little help from Dorchester!). Pictured below is our winning team (left to right: Nicholas Stout, Chris Frost, Derek Mount, Brian Beard and Paul Stanley) and, because we were actually one man short, Dorchester’s David Aldwinckle also played for us (not in the picture).
Another near miss came in 2018-19 in the B&DCL Team Handicap Knockout Cup. We were drawn against Highcliffe in the final and, because of the handicap, only needed to draw to win. For much of the evening it looked like we might manage it but in the final game to finish Thomas Trach managed to turn around a lost game to win and secure the cup for Highcliffe. Pictured below is the team that came so close (left to right: Richard Quin, Derek Mount, Chris Frost, Steve Peirson, Nicholas Stout and John Coles).
We were hoping that we’d have something else to celebrate this season – our B team has been in the doldrums for the last few seasons but they currently lead division 3 albeit only on game difference. Unfortunately, although no decision has been made yet, it seems likely that the season will have to be abandoned.
We currently have about a dozen members including original members Colin Grant and founder Brian Beard who stood down as secretary in 2017 and was elected Honorary President with Steve Peirson taking over as Secretary. A recent development was the start of a chess café at the Caffe Tratt in Swanage – this will be the subject of a separate article by its founder, club member Derek Mount.
In fact, we ‘discovered’ our youngest member, 10-year-old Florence Spirling, when her mum brought her along to the Café when the family was staying in the area during the school holidays. They have since moved to Bournemouth and, despite other clubs being closer, Florence has stayed with us. She has enjoyed success in the Dorset Junior Championships and in March won a grading prize at the Dorset Rapidplay Championships. We’re hoping to give her a game for our C team in the B&DCL but that idea was unfortunately overtaken by events. Hopefully she’ll make her debut for us next season.
Of course, life has changed radically over the past few weeks and, like several other clubs in the area, Purbeck has taken to the internet. Thanks to another club member, Nicholas Stout, we now have a presence on Chess.com – he has set up the Purbeck Chess Club group and most of us log in at around 7.00pm on a Monday night – our usual club night – for a few games.
“Dorset Local Chat” – Dorchester, a club with a rich history & that famous “Oak Room” (No. 5)
Dorchester Chess Club – Lots of history, 4 times Dorset league Div 1 Champions, played at the most haunted venue and now famous for its Jamborees
(Research & notes by Martin Simons with grateful thanks to the Dorchester Chess Club members, in particular, Julian Cherryson, Geoff Searing, Bill Woodhouse and Frank Fallon. Also many thanks to Allan Pleasants from Weymouth Chess Club)
It is not entirely clear when the first incarnation of Dorchester Chess Club existed but records kept by Allan Pleasants suggest there was a Casterbridge Chess Club formed in Dorchester in 1932, presumably a reference to Thomas Hardy’s fictional town.
It then changed its name to Dorchester Chess Club the following year. The next 30 years are a bit sketchy but in 1962 it moved to Weymouth and became the Weymouth & Dorchester Chess Club. This two town team had great success in the Dorset League winning the Division One Championship twice, firstly in 1967 then in 1972. In 1973, the club changed its name to the Weymouth Chess Club and it is not entirely clear if any form of the Dorchester Chess Club continued to exist for the next 10 years.
Due to the popularity of chess in the area in the early 1980s, Dorchester Chess Club ‘re-formed’ in 1983 where its members met in the Oak room at the Antelope Hotel. This room has a long traditional history as it was famously used as the courtroom of the Bloody Assizes by Judge Jeffreys, better known as the ‘Hanging Judge’, when in in September 1685, 302 cases were heard, of which 74 of the accused were executed.
Perhaps worried about the Oak room’s past reputation and the ghost of Judge Jeffreys which is said to haunt the Antelope courtyard, Dorchester hung up its ‘hanging pawns’ and moved to the much quieter, tranquil Colliton Club in 1987 (at the initiative of Vic Sherring) where it still meets today on Thursday evenings. The only modern day victims are, allegedly, several of Dorchester’s opponents!
The Colliton Club also has hundreds of years of history and the original site was originally used in medieval times as the monastic hospital of St John the Baptist.
Main picture above is the club’s current venue at the Colliton Club.
Early (and possibly founding) members of the present day club include two current members, Bill Woodhouse and Julian Cherryson, and past members John Hertslett, Alan Pope, Rob Perrin, John Broad, Mike Lewis, Vic Sherring, John Dalzell and George Webb (who was a member from the 1980s to the 2010s and father of current member Chris).
In 1993, Dorchester’s membership doubled to around 40, possibly its highest level, immediately following the televised Short v Kasparov World Chess Championship match.
In terms of competitions, Dorchester has competed well in the Dorset League and has won the Division One Championship on 4 occasions, in 2008, 2012, 2013 and 2015 and it has also had many successes in the lower leagues too. Mike Lewis was the first winner of the Club Championship in 1984/85 and it is understood Julian Cherryson has won it most times on 7 occasions. He recalls that in past years more than 20 points were needed to win this all-play-all event. These days, due to fewer members, a score of less than 10 may now be enough. The club also runs an Individual (Handicap) Knockout tournament each year and an exciting Lightning tournamant for its members over the Christmas festive period.
From the mid 1980s until the mid 1990s John Broad ran a junior chess club on behalf of Dorchester at the Dorchester Middle School and also the Dorset Junior Championships each Spring at the Dorchester Corn Exchange. Friendly casual chess known as ‘Chess Knight’ is also now played at Dorchester Library 5.15pm to 6.45pm every fortnight on Tuesdays. Please check the library website for dates.
Weymouth Chess Club now share the facilities at the Colliton Club with Dorchester on Thursday evenings but the clubs have not merged. Dorchester is currently well known for its now infamous annual Jamboree events. It all started in 2007 as an idea from club members and in particular, Geoff Searing, to celebrate the start of the club’s 25th anniversary season. It invited other chess clubs in Dorset and Yeovil Chess Club, its close neighbour. Previously, there had been an annual match with Yeovil and Wimborne. An excellent playing format was devised for the Jamboree in that each player within each club team could play one player from another club. Yeovil were worthy winners in the first year in a close finish and the exciting event was fully reported in the Dorset Echo. https://www.dorsetecho.co.uk/news/1692886.towns-tournament-gambit-paves-the-way/.
This event proved so enjoyable with so many positive comments that it has now become a permanent, popular annual fixture every September to act as an exciting curtain raiser for each new season. Eight clubs (Wimborne three times, Dorchester, Weymouth, Yeovil each twice, and Ringwood, Bridport, Purbeck, Poole each once) have won the tournament in its 13 year successful history. The last few years have attracted 42 players (7 teams) which is probably the club venue’s maximum capacity.
Pictured below are some of the players at the 1st Dorchester Jamboree event held at the Colliton Club in 2007.
And pictured below are chess players planning their next move during a recent Jamboree tournament at the Colliton Club.
Dorset Local Chat
Spotlight on Michael Yeo – a gifted attacking player and one of Dorset’s strongest in any era (no. 4)
Michael retired from chess in 2013 after 50 illustrious playing years. Widely acknowledged as being very analytical, sharp and astute at the board, Martin Simons has rightly described him as one of the strongest Dorset players of any era. Martin went on to add Michael was “never afraid to slog it out with top UK players, often doing well”. He also played in some 18 international tournaments, such as in Moscow, drawing with, and sometimes defeating International Masters.
Many have also commented that Michael was remarkably modest and self-effacing as a player. In victory, he was known for commiserating with his opponent, playing down his own success and, if appropriate, looking at positives and learning points for him or her. Additionally, those who played in the same team, such as Tim Weir at Abbey Life, have said Michael was a highly committed team player.
Another strong Ringwood player, Kenny Harman, has experience of playing Michael both in London many years ago and more recently, in Dorset league chess. He always found Michael a most formidable and attacking opponent, who as the game progressed would gradually outplay you – even if you had an opening advantage. And once he got the initiative, “he was unbeatable!”
Following his last season, 2012/13, Michael’s ECF grade was 204 and this was fairly reflective of his playing strength over the decades. Many have felt he had the potential to have been an International Master, but he also had a challenging job outside of chess and never took up the game professionally. Martin Simons commented…. “He was a very tactical chess player, his games were always very exciting, but I suspect he may have become a little frustrated in his latter playing years as his opponents became better prepared for his sharp, but well-known openings with the advancement and aid of computers.”
Michael played for several clubs including Mitcham in the London League, and locally, Abbey Life, Southampton, Lymington and Ringwood. He was a regular participant in the British Championships and also played in the 4NCL for Wessex. His involvement with the 4NCL went back to the mid 1990’s, when he was one of the Wessex team’s founders and was joined at that time by Martin Simons. By his own calculation, Michael played 173 games for Wessex over 17 seasons.
Martin Simons commented “I loved watching his games, more so than my own!” He has had some excellent results against very strong titled players. He drew with a young IM Julian Hodgson in 1986, beat GM Pia Cramling in 2004 (one of only two women to be a GM before year 2000). In 1989 he played against Garry Kasparov, who was World Champion at the time, albeit in a 5-minute game at the Capels Blitz and he had a level position with black up to move 30. Not many will have achieved that!
Further back than this, in 1984, he drew a dramatic, fluctuating simultaneous game with another World Champion, this time Anatoly Karpov, which went to 57 moves. Earlier still, in 1978 he drew a game of 48 moves v Nigel Short in the Lloyds Bank Masters Open. In 1987 Michael drew on top board playing for Hampshire in a county match v Cornwall against Micky Adams, believed to be the last time Micky played county chess.
In his last ever British Chess Championships in Torquay in 2013, Michael drew with GM Tony Kosten, also beating IM Gary Lane. In the last round he fought a tumultuous battle with IM Jack Rudd, which somehow ended up drawn. He finished with an excellent 6 out of 11 – so a fitting end to a 50-year glittering chess career.”
Finally, this remarkable game, played in 1979, appeared in “Newsknight”, September 1997 and the analysis was by Alan Dommett. It shows Michael, playing white, at his attacking best.
White has just played 11. f5! How do you think the game continued?
Here is a link to the game in Chessbase:
- With many thanks to Peter Anderson for formatting this game in Chessbase and providing the above diagram. He also made this comment “I have looked through a lot of Mike Yeo’s games and would say this is fairly typical of his style – he usually played in a very sharp tactical manner.”
- Also grateful thanks to Martin Simons for his many contributions to this article
Dorset Local Chat (No. 3)
Down Memory Lane – The Secret Diary of Greville (R.A.G) Marples (aged 86 ¾) – A Dorset Chess Legend!
By Martin Simons, Ian Clark & Alan Dommett
Nowadays, it is difficult to find a ‘character’ in any walk of life let alone in the supposed solemnity of the chess world. However, Greville Marples was such a person and over time since his passing almost 25 years ago, we are sure many of us have told many light-hearted tales. Although a Parkstone Chess Club member, he was never a strong chess player, but it is a mark of the man that he has been remembered by the local chess fraternity for longer than most players of greater ability.
Since the 1950s until his passing away in the 1990s, Greville was a leading figure in Dorset chess. Frank Kingdon, back in 1997, recalled that when he first met him in 1959, he and his brother Derek both worked in the family compressed air engineering business in Parkstone. In 1960, Greville was elected to the post of Treasurer of the County Chess Association, a position he held for the next 23 years. As part of his role he also set up a ‘trading account’, selling chess books and equipment to local chess players which he had bought in bulk, and substantial funds were collected for the DCCA.
Greville was always prepared to help out the County and when, in 1986, we were without a County Match Captain, he filled the breach and was our Captain until 1991. He was able to combine his two hobbies, including cycling to County chess matches, often being overtaken in the car by other less energetic County players less than half his age! Other fond memories of Greville include:
- He once cycled to Birmingham to attend the ECF Council Meeting as the Dorset Chess delegate!
- Members of Poole Chess Club International will remember Greville taking and then losing his bike on a trip to France!
Alan Dommett, Martin Simons and Ian Clark remember him turning up at their separate work premises, as he often toured the Bournemouth & Poole ‘chess player’ circuit, parking his bike next to the receptionist’s desk asking to speak to them on some incidental chess matter. He would then empty the entire contents of his overflowing bag of papers on to the floor to the amusement of the receptionist to find the crumpled single piece of paper that was relevant for his discussion!
Many B&DCL and DCCA members will often remember him arriving late at AGMs and interrupting the meeting as he wheeled that same machine across the front of the hall! Greville was a totally unconventional but much loved and loving individual, as demonstrated by proposing then getting married at the age of 80 having previously proposed to his wife, Heather, a fellow cyclist, some 30 years earlier! Rumour has it, their bikes came down the aisle too! What a ‘character’ and ‘legend’. Such fond memories!Pictured Greville (on the right) sat next to another famous local player, Richard Holmes (left), who himself lived to be over 100, at one of the Poole Club International matches in Nijmegen in 1994.
Greville died a few weeks before his 87th birthday. He was a well-liked amiable character who tirelessly supported both County and WECU events and his presence is still sorely missed.
However, most of us who knew him very well, will have abiding memories of him in his plum-coloured ‘cycling kit’ which he nearly always wore regardless of the weather or the occasion with his white trouser pockets hanging out! Chris Ambrose and Dave Burt will always remember him ‘cornering the market’ in these outfits.
Left is the Bournemouth Echo feature celebrating Greville marrying Heather, after he was turned down the first time in 1960! Ian Clark sourced the photo and scanned it in.
And for those who like their history there is a small WikiTree note on Greville https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Marples-56. He was the second of 4 male siblings.
And not to be left out, his dad lived to almost 100! https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Marples-59
With grateful thanks to Martin Simons for his considerable research into the life of Greville, with memories and contributions from others, especially Ian Clark, Alan Dommett and David Burt
“Dorset Local Chat” – Wimborne’s 42 years, 17 venues, fund raising, “much Merlot” (No. 2)
Wimborne on the Move
Over way back in ‘78, over coffee at St John’s Church, a few young blokes mentioned that they used to play chess. Some are now old blokes moving the pieces around at Wimborne Chess. We met at my home to try to remember the moves. Jim Fox, an early joiner, remembers one of my daughters telling another one to be quiet as we were playing chess. She replied very loudly ‘it’s our home so we can do what we like’. Jim is still somewhat scared if he meets my family. We decided to form a club.
We had a first match against Ringwood and lost 6-0.
Dodd Caines, an inspirational West Indian, was a founder member. He had aspirations for the club. He became secretary and publicity officer. In his enthusiasm he wrote to the House of Lords and challenged them to a match. He also wrote to the Russian Embassy challenging them to a match. Neither happened.
The Red Cross hall was our first venue when we joined the league. Early members included a young banker, Mike Davidson, who was promptly made treasurer. After a season or two he disappeared, returning about 30 years later to become the club chairman. Early members included George Dodman and Phil Wallace who is the present day club secretary and county grading officer.
The Allenbourne School. Had to leave – the chairs were too small.
The Allendale Centre. Had to leave – they closed too early.
The Kings Head. Had to leave. John Turnbull, the treasurer couldn’t find space for a game in the tiny room allocated. The enterprising duty manager suggested a bedroom. John accepted and the next person to turn up was a woman. John has the unusual claim to have played with a woman in the bedroom at the hotel. Moves of the game are not recorded but frequently recalled, especially by John.
Martyn Adams became a keen member and, teaching at the local Queen Elizabeth School encouraged some excellent young players. He ran an evening club on Friday evenings. This was called the QE Chess Club, But open to Wimborne members. Later the two clubs united.
The Dormers Hotel (now the Olive Branch) was an ideal venue. They had plans to redecorate the upper room and we had to leave.
We moved to the Royal British Legion. The premises were suitable but the noise from the bar didn’t help. Many of us became members. We had to sign up and agree to keep the rules. They asked if we had served in the forces. Arvids, one of our members replied ‘yes but does it matter which side you were on?
We had to leave the Legion because of the noise from the bar and a particularly loud barmaid who clearly didn’t like us. The stories she told and the juicy gossip resounded round the hall and was far more exciting than the Queens Gambit. Graham Willetts joined us at this time and inspired us to move on and aim higher.
The next venue was the Conservative Club. This caused anguish and horror to some members who refused to pay homage to Maggie Thatcher. They sat with their backs to her photo. Then the Con Club closed.
At this time the excellent Oakdale Chess club decided to close and we welcomed some of their players including Ian Clark and Steve Culleton. Ian, with Martin Simons of Southbourne, continued to be the inspiration of Dorset Chess. Ian manages the top end of the club.
This time we went back to the Dormers. The management were very welcoming, but if they got a better booking we were turned out into the restaurant, playing among the diners
The next venue was the Coach and Horses. We played in the bowling Alley. But if they had a booking, we had to play in the pub – a delightful place but without a section for serious chess. The log fire was a delight and some of us didn’t bother to play chess.
The Con Club had by now become a Weatherspoons pub, named ‘The Man in the Wall’. We were offered the first-floor room and we had a good season there. Then health and safety hit us. Weatherspoons decided we weren’t safe upstairs. We moved to the restaurant below and they saved us a small room. It wasn’t big enough and some of us had to play among the happy eaters and drinkers. Very jolly, but not chess, especially as happy drinkers would give us advice and move a piece or two for us.
We then tried the White Hart in the Cornmarket. Again, mixing with the happy customers didn’t please serious players.
So, we moved to the Coach and Horses again and played in the bowling alley. A familiar problem arose. If they took a booking we were bowled out and had to play in the bar amongst the pool squad and diners. Serious chess players, with no sense of humour, didn’t like it.
The next venue was the Scout Hut. Did well for a while, but not an ideal place.
So, we moved to the Football Club. At this time the club was probably had its largest membership, with 6 or 7 teams. We didn’t drink enough and we were gradually elbowed out.
At last we found our present premises at The Merley Social Club. Probably the best venue yet.
In between these wanderings, we had a spell at the Town Hall. However, the large rectangular table in the committee room meant that only those with long arms could administer a back-rank mate – so we left.
In 2004, Phil Taylor (later to be Phil Taylor-Bowd) joined us and set up what we believe was the first club web site in Dorset.
A feature of the club over the years has been the excellent fund raising, especially by John George.
Another highlight is our annual Christmas dinner.
So, we’ve moved a lot, had a visit from the Mayor, raised over £1000 for Naomi’s House, played two simultaneous matches against top national players, tasted a lot of Merlot and enjoyed ourselves.
But we never played the House of Lords and are still waiting a reply from the Russian Embassy
Written by Wimborne Honorary Life President and one of the founder members, Tony Buckfield together with members of the Committee April ’20 & published on the website 12 April ’20. Many thanks to all involved.
And this is how “Dorset Local Chat” was launched (No. 1)
9 April ’20: Welcome to “Dorset Local Chat” which has started this evening! It is all part of trying to create ongoing website interest and things to look at, or do, during these long weeks of lock-down. It means that along with Peter Anderson’s Puzzle/Game of the Day, regular Lichess updates from Martin Clancy, plus the Bulletin 3 days a week, “Dorset Local Chat” will have features, articles and longer items than appear in the Bulletins. We also want to try and make it chatty, fun and informal whenever possible. Contributions are therefore much needed please from clubs, especially members who have something to share (should be sent to Mike please: [email protected]). No strict or overbearing rules – just needs to do with chess, is legal and decent and most importantly, will likely be of wider interest to Dorset chess players!! That hopefully leaves lots of scope!
It starts today with an interesting and chatty article below from New Milton’s Barry Jolly. It gives a real insight into this ambitious and friendly club, with lots of background to how it got to where it is today. New Milton is also the subject of the latest Bulletin No. 6, again written by Barry.
But here is Barry’s absorbing article and many thanks to him for putting in so much work and effort!
Some thoughts on the history of New Milton Chess Club
by Barry Jolly
Mike Jay has asked me to write a history of New Milton Chess Club. I have to say that this is a challenging prospect for someone who arrived in Hampshire only six and a half years ago, there being so many players with memories of the Bournemouth and District Chess League going back over several decades ready to correct my every error. My thanks go to John Beasant and Richard Ursell, who both consulted their personal records with dates of matches and team results from many years ago, but who cannot be blamed for any inaccuracies which I now set down on paper. Richard was a relatively early member of the club joining with his father Bob, in 1975 along with the original members including Keith Spooner, Geoff Bridden, Mike Bond, Terry Gurd and Bill Page. The club first joined the B&DCL in 1983 and it met at New Milton Community Centre in Osborne Road where it remained until December 2015, when it moved to New Milton Conservative Club. Many will remember being shepherded out at 10.15 to meet the whims of the caretakers of the time. Never mind that their shift ended at 11.00pm, games were interrupted and sealed moves made as players found themselves in the car park with the clocks still ticking. With a modest population, New Milton has always found some difficulty in attracting the strongest of players, the employment and study prospects of Poole and Bournemouth being so much more appealing. Nonetheless, in the 1996/7 season, the impossible happened and New Milton won division 1 of the Bournemouth and District Chess League. It was a most successful period for New Milton, because on the 19th April 1996 they defeated Wimborne 4-2 in the first ever Team Handicap Knockout Final competition final. New Milton only needed a 3-3 draw to win. The league at that time sported four divisions. So many clubs of that era have closed or amalgamated since, but many will remember them with, no doubt, varying degrees of fondness. There were two teams from Oakdale Conservative Club, both in Division 1, but overshadowed by Southbourne which could then boast three of its seven teams at that level. Kinson, Wimborne, Parkstone and a solitary Bournemouth side made up the remainder of the 10 top tier teams. None could hold a candle to New Milton that season, however. The New Milton team of Julian Corfield, Paul Kemp, Len Laker, Richard Ursell and David Balfour swept all before them. The final league table showed New Milton as Champions with 8 wins and 1 draw from their nine matches. Three points back was Southbourne A and the two Oakdale teams three points further back still. Other teams in the lower divisions were from Merck, DSS, Abbey Life, Lytchett Matravers, Lymington, Highcliffe, Frizzells, Ringwood and Winton Junior Knights. As in other parts of the country where I have played, the withdrawal of sports and social facilities by many employers has seen the demise of many a good chess club, and only a handful of these 16 clubs now remain. In 1999, New Milton again emerged triumphant. I have not been able to unearth the league table for that season, but the team was now Ray Edwards, Paul Kemp, David Balfour, Len Laker and Richard Ursell …. or was it? I still have Hari Iyengar, who returned to India later, and Bill Page to fit in and I think both played a part. Apologies for the uncertainty, but now is the chance for the old stagers – if I may call them thus – to come forward, please, with more accurate details. As the company social clubs closed, so player strength moved more to the big beasts which dominate the league scene today. New Milton had shrunk to just one team by the time of my arrival in October 2013, and relegation from Division 2 looked a distinct possibility. I found myself playing in a scratch team of Steve Disney, Bill Page, Peter Ashwood and myself in the frozen wastes of the only too well remembered skittle alley in Wimborne, and somehow, I won and my colleagues all drew. From that moment, and with the arrival of Reenen Du Toit for the very next match, we staged a revival and swept to the division championship with promotion to Division 1 for the ensuing two seasons. Page | 2 We have made strenuous efforts since then to develop club activities. The most significant perhaps was the move to the Conservative Club in January 2016. Ironically, the caretakers who caused so many problems had been replaced by two very nice lads who could not be more obliging, but the die had been cast and the move effected. We have had the odd hiccup when our matches and our host’s social calendar have contrived to collide, but we have managed to deal with these without too much damage. We remain grateful to the small number of clubs who have suffered this way. On the whole, though, the creature comforts of the Conservative Club seem to be appreciated. Indeed, there have been many occasions when I have turned up for a home match a full half an hour before the scheduled start time to find opposition players providing full support to the Conservative Club’s coffers at the bar. The club championship has been re-instated and a knock-out trophy initiated. Additionally, an annual yuletide fun frolic of rapidplay chess, with mince pies and sausage rolls as a seasonal treat, is now a firm favourite. At the half way stage of the 2019/20 season, we had three teams all leading their respective divisions. Not all have managed to last the pace, although second place (as we stand at the current hiatus) is no mean feat. Nonetheless, we look forward with some confidence to a post coronavirus world where we will once again be testing our skills against the best in Division 1.
Published on the website 9 April ‘20 and written by Barry Jolly