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A Thank you to Colwyn Bay Chess Club

by Mike Lee

Thank you Colwyn Bay Chess Club for 37 years of Tuesday evenings playing social and competitive chess. I have enjoyed the friendly games, the Chester & District League games and the internal Club competitions.

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Mike's Leaving Party

I remember playing with the Clubs old original chess sets and wooden boards. These were eventually replaced by new sets and the old wooden pieces were sold off to any club member that wanted them for £1 (plus a £1 more for a board.) Recently I played a past member of the Colwyn Bay Chess Club and recognised the set as one of those sold. The owner had thought it was valuable –possibly £1,000 - and so had it valued by Sotheby’s. They were able to verify the age of the set by the design, the number of points on the Queens crown and also by markings on the Rook and Knights. (the official Staunton design has been updated slightly 17 times at different dates since 1849) They valued it at only £100 to £150 so not enough to part with a lovely, polished, weighted, 1890 to 1900 set of pieces.

I can recall lots of memories of different games. My first night at the club losing to the club champion, Don Grayson, he gave every new person that visited the white pieces and as e4 was usual, he beat them with his French defence. My games with David Jameson, when he let me chose the opening, rattle off my preparation to the point that the book said I was winning, then he would beat me. The games with Terry Burgess who would be muttering ‘oh my giddy aunt’ then find some swindle of a move to win from a totally lost position.

Despite my (less than) average chess abilities, I have been proud to win one or two cups. The first was an internal Colwyn Bay second division competition. The latest was a Chester & District player of the year cup. Once I even won the Club Championship Silver Rook trophy which was made by Fattorini's of Bradford. The same company that made the 1911 redesigned FA Cup trophy. When I first joined the Club, and silver spiked to nearly 50 US Dollars an oz, we had this trophy insured for £1,000.

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Mike with the Greats

Much has changed in the Club over the years but much is also the same, I remember 5 of us returning from an away match in Wrexham, 20 years ago. In the car, taking short cuts along country lanes, getting lost, stopping in the dark to try and orientate by looking at the stars and finally after driving a full hour and just seeming to approach civilisation again we saw someone to ask for directions (an absolute last resort for 5 men, … but it was now about 11:30pm) We had just gone in a 30 or 35 mile loop to arrive back within 100 yards from the Wrexham match venue. These days we still occasionally take wrong turnings but is not the driver or the passengers fault, we all blame the Sat Nav.

I remember playing in some freezing winter match venues but whatever your playing level, chess is a marvellous game and to play it with friends is a pleasure. I often think of the 1931 quote from Siegbert Tarrasch “Chess, like love, like music, has the power to make men happy.”

Mike Lee
September 2016