HISTORY 3: Further Generations

John Casewell takes us to the present day

My father taught me the game of draughts and referred to chess as too complicated a game to learn. When my son Ian came along I decided to teach myself the game in order to teach him. At that time there was a TV programme by the magician David Nixon on his hobby of collecting chess sets.

When Ian was five I started his tuition. He really took to it and as a result I decided to find a club where he could play when he reached the age of nine. I went along to the NALGO chess club at the Shirehall and was welcomed by Bill Clarke, who I already knew through Shrewsbury table tennis circles. Also present at that time was John Bashall. Ian and I were made to feel very welcome and I was encouraged to take up the game playing in the league myself. At first I did not have the confidence in my own ability. The photograph at the foot of Bill Clarke’s history part one shows my son seated opposite Brian Holland soon after we joined.

I got more involved in ferrying Ian around various primary school national tournements, eventually taking over as the Shropshire Junior Organiser when I found that in secondary education teachers were not prepared to give up their free time in such activities.

I took Ian to Brighton to compete in the British under 11 championship and recall him losing in the second round to Matthew Sadler, who has since gone on to become a Grandmaster.

As a result of my involvement in school chess I ended up running a team for the club which included Vinnie Crean and Man Hoc Lee who had played in the county junior team.

I moved with the NALGO club to The Old Shrewsbury Bowling Club in 1985. At the Shirehall we had to be out by 10.30pm. No such restriction at our new venue. However, I do recall one night while playing a match downstairs a German umpah band playing upstairs.

At that time I remember playing in a team which included a very young Nigel Ferrington, Gordon Thomas and his son Joseph. Gordon had worked with Bill at the Shirehall and had travelled with me to various school tournements. Peter and Vinnie Crean were also members of the club at that time.

After three years we had to leave the OSBC to our present home where we were made to feel very welcome by Clive Beaman. Keith Tabner has covered his memories of the club up until 2003. I remember our number of members swelling when the Rolls Royce Club disbanded. In 2003 we ran three teams and since season 2010/11 with one season’s exception have run four teams.

In 2004 I was League Controller and ran for two weeks the Darwin Shopping Centre Chess Festival, which was repeated in 2005. This spread the word about chess in Shropshire and as a result helped recruit a few players to various clubs. Most notable for us being David Bates who had been a Liverpool junior champion.

Sadly in 2005 we lost Neil Allen, who had joined the club through the junior chess I had previously been promoting.

Our club minutes and our roll of honour reflect our success over the years.

In 2013 ECF direct membership came in and also a Shropshire rapid play league was formed and we entered two teams.

Keith Tabner was keen that we should have a Shropshire Chess website and with Vinnie Crean’s expertise this came to fruition early in the twenty first century and Keith has remained website editor since its inception. Following on from this our own website was borne. New technology has changed the way we report results, and indeed we can follow certain matches now online.

After many years as our secretary Keith Tabner stood down in 2017 to become our first president and Dennis Bonner took over as secretary. John Westhead has remained our treasurer taking over from me around the turn of the century.

Peter Crean stood down as B team captain in 2017 after 30 years in that capacity. Dean Pinnington and I run a chess class at Condover School in the autumn and spring terms. Our club over the last couple of years has welcomed new members while one or two have left the area.

Years ago we never had an AGM or officers to share the responsibility for running our club. We have officers in the Shropshire Chess Organisation, and in my view one of our main strengths is that we offer chess for all abilities, and are a well run accountable club and this is due to having a strong band of longstanding loyal members. 

John Casewell – November 2018

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