Before moving to the West country in 1978, I started playing seriously in 1966 and was in the School team in 1967 aged 14. Soon I was captain of both the School team and also Folkestone Chess Club; my first published grade was 176.
There was tremendous team spirit in the Kent county team; most of us had to travel a fair distance (in some cases over 100 miles) and often took over train carriages on the way. We won the English Counties Championship in 1975 and again in 1976, playing both finals against Lancashire.
The best moment in Devon for me was winning the National Club Major Plate and receiving the award with my arm in a sling.
I've enjoyed regular tussles over the years with George Wheeler of Plymouth, Alan Brusey of Teignmouth and my regular rival for the Exeter Championship, Richard Lingham. I've also enjoyed the company of the various foreign visitors we have had who have strengthened the team; Stefan Flesch from Germany, Mike van Wissen of the Netherlands, Dr. Emilio Páez of Costa Rica — and from Iceland over the years we have received Jon Gunnar Ottoson, Hakon Halldor Oskarsson and Ågust Karlsson. Hair-raising tales of the exploits of these giant Vikings live on in the Club's oral archives!
A couple of incidents stick in my mind:
In one round of the National Club, Chris Heath had a won position at the close of play against an illustrious opponent ; let us call him the Expert. The Expert was absolutely fuming about the game and paced the room grumbling; Chris enquired gently if he was going to resign. Instead, he started to write the position down. Chris, having received no answer, then asked if he wanted to send the game for adjudication. The Expert then started ranting about how badly Chris had played the opening, whereupon Chris replied, "I'm sorry, I'll try and do better next time"(!). Eventually he did resign.
Not the worst manners I've ever witnessed: I can remember vividly Ashford winning the Kent championship in 1977, outgraded by 30 points on every board by Lewisham in the final. David Powell beat the Australian IM Max Fuller on top board; after the game a "colleague" of Fuller's decided he must have taken a bribe and floored him with a right hook!
White's centralised minor pieces wreak havoc among the disorganised Black Pawns. Brian's opponent is now a strong GM; at the time he was "only" a strong IM! — DR
1. d4 Nf6 2. Nc3 g6 3. e4 d6 4. Be2 Bg7 5. Be3 O-O 6. Qd2 c6 7. Nf3
Now highly fashionable.
7...b5 [7...Ng4 now or on move 8]
8. a3 Bb7 9. Bh6 Na6 10. Bxg7 Kxg7
11. e5 dxe5 12. dxe5 Qxd2+ 13. Nxd2 Nd7 14. e6!
The start of Black's problems. His whole position becomes disjointed and the Pawn structure weak. White's minor pieces are strong from here.
14...fxe6 15. Nb3 Rad8 16. O-O-O! Ne5
[16...Rxf2 17. Bf3]
17. Rxd8 Rxd8 18. Na5 Ba8 19. f4 Nf7 20. Bf3 b4 21. axb4 Nxb4 22. Re1
22...e5 23. Nc4!
There is no rush either to capture or exchange Pawns, here or at move 26.
23...Rd4 24. Nxe5 Rxf4 25. Nd7 e5 26. Ne4! Rh4 27. h3 Bb7 28. Bg4 Bc8 29. Nec5 g5
30. Ne6+ Kh8 31. Nxe5 Bxe6 32. Bxe6 Nxe5 33. Rxe5 Rh6 34. Bc4 Rg6 35. c3 Nd5 36. Bxd5 cxd5 37. Rxd5 a6 38. c4 h6 39. Kc2 Rf6 40. Kc3 Kg7 41. c5 Rf1 42. Rd2 Kf6
...and later resigns: White will win the a6 Pawn.
[Notes by Brian Hewson]