Saturday, 21 April 2018

Is Chess a Young Persons' Sport?

Since the infamous first Karpov – Kasparov match during which Kasparov, the younger challenger, drove his older challenger to the point of collapse following a series of draws the game of chess at grandmaster level has been dominated by youth. The young Carlsen being the latest example of youth dominating the sport. But what happens during a one off game? The recent resurgence of Kasparov indicates this may not be true over shorter matches. So, do you choose the enthusiasm and vigour of youthful attack or the wisdom and experience of the elder chess statesman? The following match played when Newport B travelled to play Malpas C in a Division 2 top 2 meeting gives one example of where experience when facing a youthful player deploying an aggressive opening can turn the tide.

White: O STUBBS (1902) - teenager
Black: G Cadden (1761) - senior citizen!

Kings Indian Defence – comments by Gordon Cadden

1 d4 Nf6
2 Bf4 Usually knights are developed first but the Bishop is on its optimum square.
2 g6
3 Nc3 Bg7
4 e4 d6
5 Qd2 Alarm bells were ringing. My opponent was lining up 0-0-0, h4 & h5 opening up the file for the rook, together with the exchange of the black squared bishops.  Counterplay in the centre and queenside was desperately needed.
5 0-0
6 0-0-0 Re8
7 f3? Not necessary at this stage.
7 b6 Very risky but desperate for counterplay
8 Bh6 Bh8
9 h4 c5
10 dc bc
11 e5! Nh5
12 Qd5! Qb6!
13 ed Bb7
14 d7 Rd8
15 Qg5 Bf6
16 Qg4 Bc6
17 Bg5 Nbd7
18 Bf6 Nhf6
19 Qg5 Rab8
20 b3 Qb4
21 Kb2 Kg7
22 h5 h6
23 Qe3 g5
24 Nh3 c4
25 f4 cb
26 cb g4
27 Nf2 Nc5
28 Rd8 Rd8
29 Nd3 Nd3
30 Bd3 Qd4
31 Qd4 Rd4
32 Bc2 Bg2
33 Re1 e6
34 Nb4 Rd7
35 Rd1 Bd5
36 Rg1 Bf3
37 f5 Nh5
38 fe fe
39 Re1 Kf6
40 Kc3 e5
41 Re3 Nf4
42 Na3 Resigns The knight fork on his rook wins outright

Gordon Commented “A very lively game from my 13 year old Downend and Fishponds Junior Champion, Oliver Stubbs who played a very aggressive opening aiming to win quickly. With a 64 years age gap between players this was understandable. I had to keep up the pressure on my opponent to stop him demolishing my Kingside”. The younger player in this instance is destined for a very successful career in chess but for many of us older statesmen in the Gwent league can take some hope that “old dogs will have their day”.

Monday, 25 September 2017

Annual General Meeting 2017


Many thanks to Roger Lockyer who has stepped down as secretary after many years of hard work and devoted service!


Congratulations to Roger Lockyer on his election as our new president!

Congratulations to Gordon Cadden on his election as a new honorary vice president!

Congratulations to Dave Connolly and Jonathan Dyment for winning this summer's doubles tournament!

The committee

Chairman: Chris Reading
Secretary: Clive Thomas
Treasurer: Dave Connolly

Tournament Secretary: Clive Thomas
Webmaster: Christopher Robertson

Team captains:

A team: Dave Connolly
B team: Clive Thomas
C team: Roger Lockyer

Membership fees

Annual subscription for club membership only will be £40.
Annual subscription including membership of the Welsh Chess Union (for match play): £60
Alternative weekly fee: £2

Thursday, 15 September 2016


Newport Chess Club wishes to thank outgoing President Gordon Cadden for three years of generosity and dedicated service. Congratulations to Gordon, also, on his recently published article on Philidor's grave in the British Chess Magazine!


On 7th September we held our Annual General Meeting, and elected a new committee:

  • Chairman: Chris Reading - 01633 896032
  • Secretary: Roger Lockyer - 01633 252003
  • Treasurer: Dave Connolly - 01633 655372

Our new team captains:

  • A team: David Connolly - see above
  • B team: Clive Thomas - 01633 895959
  • C team: Roger Lockyer - see above


Congratulations to Newport Chess Club's A team, who won the first division championship, and to the B team who were runners up in the second division!

Congratulations also to Leslie Blohm who won the Houghton Trophy for the best player in the first division!

This has been the most successful season for the Club in fifty years.

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Obituary - JOHN S. EVANS

By Gordon Cadden, Club President.  Copyright reserved.

John Selwyn Evans died at Hastings & St Leonards on 7th October, 2015, aged 78 years.  It may not have been a coincidence that he should have lived his last years at the home of British chess.

John has a strong claim to be one of Monmouthshire's most charismatic players.  He was not a person that you could easily forget.  His passion for the game stayed with him all his life.  Slim, average build, his grey green eyes would look at you intensely, and there would be fast conversation when not playing chess over the board.  Amongst his achievements, he claimed to have invented the Gwent Gambit in the 1960’s.  This was a gambit pawn in the Scandinavian Defence, which re-surfaced in the 1980’s as the Icelandic Gambit.

John was brought up in Beaufort, Ebbw Vale. After leaving school, John became a Police Cadet, and eventually a full-time Policeman. But he was not content with life on the beat, and applied for a position as Cost Accountant at Richard, Thomas and Baldwin's Steelworks in Ebbw Vale. He was successful, and joined the RTB Works Chess Club. This is where he developed his enthusiasm for the game. This period would be the early 1960’s, when he would have married.  They had one son by the name of Kevin, who joined him at the Pontypool Club in later years.

I played five recorded games with JSE between 1963 and 1966. We met on weekends playing in the Monmouthshire Closed Championship, and also in the West of England Zonal Competition for entry to the British Championship.  Entries from Monmouthshire were included during this period.  I moved to London in November of 1964, but often returned to Newport on weekends.  I also met John in the Welsh Championships.

1968 was a memorable year. John was playing Home matches for the Newport Club, in the Newport and District League. He would play quickly, making sure that he would finish his game before 21:30, when he would catch the last bus to Ebbw Vale.  The Welsh Championships were held in Aberystwyth that year.  Distance did not deter John from playing chess.  He hired a mobile home, and took four Newport players with him to Aberystwyth;  Robert Graham Taylor and John Williams from the Newport Club, Philip A. Thomas from Hartridge High School,  and Richard Miles from Newport High School.  I was also offered a place, but decided that this would be too crowded for comfort.

Towards the end of the 1960’s, John was to join the Pontypridd Club, playing in the East Glamorgan League.  He also joined the Pontypool Club, and became close friends with Nigel Saunders.  He even managed to play for the Caerleon Club.  His wife filed for divorce during this period. I do not know the reason, but the term “chess widow” was in common usage at the time.

I left John in the 1960’s, and we did not meet again until 1995, which was the Jubilee Year of what was now the Gwent Closed Championship.  The organisers searched far and wide for past champions  to participate.  John was the joint winner with P. Cunningham in 1981, and I was the joint winner with Colin Gilbert in 1965. It was perhaps a miracle that we should meet, since John was living in Hastings & St. Leonards, and I was living in Hampstead, London.  In appearance he had hardly changed, the Peter Pan of chess. He won his game, making up for the 100% score that I achieved against him in the 1960’s.

I believe that John was made redundant by RTB in the 1970’s.  He found employment as a Mathematics Lecturer at Pontypridd.   His life was to change dramatically when he met a woman from Bagdad, Iraq, around the early 1980’s. Her name was Wedad, and she was of the Islamic Faith.  John married a second time, embracing  her Islamic faith.  John was successful in applying for a job as Sub-Postmaster at St. Leonards, on the Bexhill Road, East Sussex. He enjoyed a peaceful life as a Postmaster, and joined the Eastbourne Chess Club. According to his friend Sevket at Eastbourne, John played in the Mid-Sussex League, and participated in club competitions.  His life as a Postmaster came to an end, when he was the victim of an armed robbery at his Post Office.  He was left injured, and eventually decided to take early retirement.  And so he joined the Hastings Club, which is open daily.  His friend at Hastings, Rasa Norinkekciute remembers Hassan (John) with affection.  He said that Hassan (John) had done the Hajj, the long pilgrimage to Mecca, he became a “mustati” and was proud of his achievement. To the Hastings club members, the man we knew as John S. Evans, was called Hassan. The transformation to the Islamic Faith was complete.

John continued to play chess and tennis, until shortly before he died.  Rasa Norinkekciute informed me that his health declined in recent years, and he required dialysis. When the opportunity arose, John made the fatal decision to opt for a kidney transplant. The operation was successful, and John returned to playing tennis and chess.  It was later discovered, too late, that the new kidney was cancerous. The cancer spread to his lungs, with fatal results.

John was born at Ebbw Vale in 1937.  He is survived by his widow, Wedad, and by his son Kevin from his first marriage.


Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Newport Chess Club - The Founding Years

By Gordon Cadden, Club President
Copyright reserved

A key player in the early development of chess clubs in South Wales was Christopher Rice Mansell Talbot, F.R.S. (b. 10th May, 1803; d. 17th. January, 1890). Chess player, pioneering photographer, landowner, industrialist, Liberal politician and Father of the House of Commons: he was the Member of Parliament for Glamorganshire for nearly sixty years. He inherited immense wealth from the Margam Estates, and invested shrewdly in Great Western Railway stocks. By 1850, daily London newspapers were reaching the Newport Town Hall Subscribers' Reading Room, travelling via Cheltenham, Gloucester and Lydney. During this period, chess was played almost exclusively amongst the clergy and the gentry. There was a distinct class divide up until the First World War, with the Newport Street Directories giving a separate list for the clergy and gentry.

C.R.M Talbot
C.R.M Talbot was instrumental in the founding of the Newport Chess Club.
The world’s first International Chess Tournament was planned in London for the year 1851, to be held in conjunction with the Great Industrial Exhibition. Howard Staunton was the main organiser, but C.R.M. Talbot was also on the committee, as a founder member of the exclusive St. George’s Chess Club, which met at 3 Cavendish Square. Such was Talbot’s enthusiasm for the game that he purchased a town house in Cavendish Square. On the organising committee with Talbot were Howard Staunton, Captain Kennedy, Marmaduke Wyvil, M.P., J. Milnes Gaskell, M.P., William Lewis, etc. – a very distinguished group of gentlemen. Talbot described himself as representing the “Chess players of South Wales”. As a subscriber, he volunteered a subscription of £25. Only the Calcutta Chess Club volunteered a higher subscription. With daily reports on the 1851 Tournament reaching the Old Newport Town Hall Subscribers' Reading Room, there was great excitement amongst the chess players. Howard Staunton’s Chess Players Chronicle was delivered to the Reading Room, and members could analyse the games. Imagine the excitement when they analysed this game:

London 1851
White: Adolf Anderssen
Black: Lionel Kierseritzky

1. e4 e5 11. Rg1 cb 21. Ng7+ Kd8
2. f4 ef 12. h4 Qg6 22. Qf6+ Nf6
3. Bc4 b5 13. h5 Qg5 23. Be7++
4. Bb5 Qh4+ 14. Qf3 Ng8
5. Kf1 Nf6 15. Bf4 Qf6
6. Nf3 Qh6 16. Nc3 Bc5
7. d3 Nh5 17. Nd5 Qb2
8. Nh4 c6 18. Bd6! Bg1
9. Nf5 Qg5 19. e5 Qa1+
10. g4 Nf6 20. Ke2 Na6

Chess continued to be played casually, until early 1855, when it was decided to Constitute Rules for the Newport and County Chess Club. Charles Lyne was a solicitor with an office at Bank Chambers in the town, and he is very likely to have drafted the Constitution. They may have had plans to play the Bristol and Clifton Club, which was founded around 1839. No records survived from the Old Town Hall, but we have a report in the Monmouthshire Merlin, for 2nd March 1855:

"A Chess Club has been formed at the Commercial Reading Rooms, which from the large number of gentlemen who are partial to the noble game, bids fair to prove a source of gratification and amusement during the Winter hours".
The club Rules were officially Constituted, and that Constitution is with us to this day, but with some necessary amendments for the 21st century.

Colonel Charles Lyne, J.P. was duly elected President, and he became Mayor of the town in the following year, 1856. Two Vice-Presidents were elected, Mr Salter and Mr May. Mr Salter had offices in Clarence Place, and was a Land Assessor for the Inland Revenue. Mr Will was elected honorary secretary and treasurer, and this dual office continued until the death of J.W.F. Greenleaf in 1954. The club met at the Town Hall from 6pm, three nights each week, usually Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. This custom continued to within my lifetime, until the late 1960’s, when the club moved from the Y.M.C.A. to the Dolman Theatre. Today, the old Y.M.C.A. building is in use as the Wetherspoons' “Tom Toya Lewis” public house.

Charles Lyne
Charles Lyne was Club President and Mayor of Newport.

The Monmouthshire Merlin report continued,

"A committee of six gentlemen was appointed to manage the affairs of the society. 25 gentlemen enrolled their names."
The emphasis was on "gentlemen". It was a gentlemen’s club, and the names of any new prospective members had to be seconded by an existing member. Any member of the six man committee could "blackball" a prospective member. By the mid-1890’s, the chess club was the most exclusive society in Newport. You only have to look at the list of Vice-Presidents for that period, which looked like they were taken from Debrett’s “Who's Who”, in Monmouthshire. I have traced another early member, by the name of William Conway, whose obituary appeared in the British Chess Magazine for 1891:
The old Town Hall in Newport
Old Newport Town Hall, where the Club met in the early years.
"The South Wales Press has done full justice to the memory of William Conway, of Ponthir, Monmouthshire, but as an old and strong player, he deserves at least passing notice in these pages. Public Work of which he took upon himself a large share, occupied all his time of late years; but there are many players still with us who remember in him one of their strongest but withal most amiable antagonists. Besides holding several church and political Offices, he was a member of many Local Boards, and Provisional Chairman of Monmouthshire County Council. He died on the 5th. February, 1891, aged 71 years."
This obituary was almost certainly written by John Moses, Mayor of Newport in 1877, and the only Mayor to play on top board for our club. William Conway was born in 1820, and was a Druggist based in Pontypool during his early years. He later purchased a Tin-Plate Works in Ponthir, with his brother. John Moses was born in 1829, ten years before the Chartist Riots. He was one of the early members, and eventually became the Club President. Another early member was John Gall, Club Secretary in the 1870’s, and 1880’s. I have other names from the 1880’s, but can only speculate as to whether they were members in the 1850’s and 1860’s. The Newport Solicitor George Frances Colborne was a member from at least 1884, until his last appearance at the club in 1945. The Newport Problemist Alonzo Townsend published in the Huddersfield College Magazine in the 1870’s, and the early editions of the British Chess Magazine during the 1880’s. His problems were also published in the Illustrated London News. The 1881 BCM mentions the Isca Chess Club, which met at the "Ship and Pilot" public house in Pillgwenlly. This public house was popular with Ships Officers. Alonzo Townsend is shown as President, with Joseph Williams as honorary secretary. Blands Chess Club directory also mentions the Isca club in 1882. They claimed to have twenty-five members. Townsend was a member of the gentry, living at Caerau, but Joseph Williams lived in Railway Street, and would not have belonged to the gentry, which indicates a possible split from the Newport Club. John Moses was probably the most illustrious club member, only the second citizen to be honoured with the Freedom of the Town. He was a ships broker, owned steamships, was an iron-ore merchant, and a senior Alderman, and prominent member of the Baptist Church in Commercial Street. He died on 29th December 1915, aged eighty-seven years. His funeral service took place on January 8th 1916. Amongst the mourners, I was surprised to see the name of Ivor Llewellyn Phillips, who now stands as a life member of the club. His father, Edward Phillips, J.P. was a member of the gentry, who lived at Friars Cottage, Waterloo Road. In 1916, Ivor moved to a splendid new home in Edward VII Avenue, and probably married that year. In the late 1950’s I called to Ivor’s home in Waterloo Road (he returned to his parents' home in late life). As a teenager, Ivor would take me to away matches in his car. One can only speculate, but it is likely that Ivor’s father took him to the Newport Club in his youth. To think that Ivor knew John Moses, and many of the other old members. He would have played at the Newport Town Hall, he could have told me so many tales of the old Newport Chess Club.

I conclude with a game played by C.R.M. Talbot in his youth. His enthusiasm for the game helped indirectly to establish the Newport Club in 1855, and many other clubs throughout South Wales. Published in the British Chess Magazine shortly after his death, the game is taken from Howard Staunton’s Chess Players Chronicle, published in 1843. The notes are by the Reverend William Wayte, a contributing editor to the B.C.M. This is coffee house chess, but it does give you an idea of his style of play. Staunton had an irritating habit of giving anonymity to prominent losers.

St. Georges Club, 1843
White: Anon.
Black: C.R.M. Talbot, M.P.

1. e4 e5 10. Bg8 (c) Qg2
2. f4 ef 11. Rf1 Qe4 +
3. Nf3 g5 12. Kf2 (d) Bh3
4. Bc4 Bg7 13. Rg1 (e) Bd4+
5. d4 d6 14. cd Qd4+
6. c3 Nc6 (a) 15. Ke2 Qg1
7. Qb3 Qe7 16. Qh3 Qc1
8. Ng5 Qg5 17. Qc3 Qc3
9. Bf7+ KQ8 (b) 18. Nc3 Rg8 0 – 1

(a) 6…, h6 or 6…, g4 are more usual; but we have always thought the text move worth trying for a change, especially by an attacking player.

(b) With excellent judgement, black escapes a snare into which even the great Labourdonnais fell (game 42 of the series with MacDonnell). After 9…, Kf8 10. Bg8 Rg8 11. Bf4 Qg6! 12. Rf1 with strong attack.

(c) And now white is in too great a hurry to recover his piece – castling would have been more prudent, and occurs if we remember right, in a game of Rosenthal’s.

(d) His only move to avoid immediate mate.

(e) If 13. Bd5 then Bd4+ and winning.