David Richards writes:
In the 'sixties Exeter won through as far as the semi-finals of the National Club Championships with a team comprised of ARB Thomas, RVM Hall, Denis Gray, Brian Clapp and myself. At that time such was the strength of the club that we thought we were really getting somewhere.
I recall with fondness matches played across the South-West, and in particular some of the characters of the day like Ken Bloodworth and Ron and Rowena Bruce. Going to play at the Bruces' house, where we always were offered a terrific spread, was always as much a social event as a chess match. I've played all over the country, but nowhere as nice as Devon. — DJR
[David Richards is the author of Soviet Chess: chess and communism in the USSR (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1965) and the translator of Suetin's Modern Chess Opening Theory (Pergamon Press, Oxford, 1965)]
One of the best opponents I scored a win against in the early 1960s was Denis Mardle, the Gloucestershire player who was a regular contender for the British title. This game, played in a BCF Zonal tournament, provides a splendid illustration of the French Defence's resilience. — DJR
1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e5 c5 5. Bd2 Nc6 6. Nb5 Bxd2+ 7. Qxd2 Nxd4 8. Nxd4 cxd4 9. Nf3 Qb6 10. Nxd4 Ne7
[10...Qxb2?! 11. Bb5+ Bd7 [11...Kf8] 12. O-O Bxb5? 13. Rfb1 Qa3 14. Nxb5 Qa4 15. Nc7+]
11. Bb5+ Nc6 12. O-O Bd7 13. Bxc6 bxc6
White tries to maintain his Knight on d4 and/or open lines for his Rooks on the Queen's-side.
14...c5 15. bxc5 Qxc5 16. Rab1 O-O 17. Rb7 Bc8 18. Rb3 Qc7 19. Re1 Rb8 20. Rc3 Qd7 21. Ra3 Rb6 22. Qe2 Qb7 23. Nb3 Qc7 24. Ra4 f6
White's manoeuvres have run into the sand. Now comes a standard — and very satisfying — French counter-attack.
25. Nd4 Bd7 26. Ra5? fxe5 27. Nf3
[27. Qxe5?? Qxe5 28. Rxe5 Rb1+]
27...Rb2 28. Qxe5
This still fails, thanks to Black's 29th Move, which wins a piece.
28...Qxa5 29. Qxb2 Rxf3 30. gxf3 Qxe1+ 31. Kg2 Qa5 32. Qb8+ Kf7 0-1
An off-day for Mardle, of course, but Black's game flowed very sweetly.
[Notes by David Richards]