History of SOUTH BIRMINGHAM CHESS CLUB
1945 - 1976

South Birmingham Chess Club was founded in 1945 with its first meeting taking place at Hartfield Crescent School, Acocks Green. During its first year it attracted over 30 new members from a bomb-torn city.
Immediately affiliated to the Birmingham League with teams in all four league divisions, its Division 1 team comprised eight board matches and the remaining 3 divisions 6 board matches.
The 1947-1948 season started with the club playing a 20 board friendly match against Solihull, with an unknown result. The Club's chess league representation was held in divisions 1 and 3 South and 4 East with the season ending with the 3rd team finishing with a tie with Lozells resulting in a play-off for promotion. Disaster occurred in the match for South Birmingham's young player William.G. Botteley who got himself into terrible trouble with a rash pawn advance on the K Side, and was mated in eleven moves!
The South Birmingham Team consisted of 1, G. Cooper, 2, F Burton, 3, R.W. Thomas, 4, S.N. Abbott, 5, W.J. Wright, 6, W.G. Bottleley. Lozells won 5-1.
By October 1947, Club successes were already beginning to show. J.B. Vincent won first prize for the best game played in a Warwickshire Match; he was playing for the President's Team against the Chairman's team and a total of 46 players took part.
The 1948 season started with a club move to the Cambrai Evening Institute, Colebank Road, Hall Green which became the Club's meeting house for the next 10 years where Secretary Mr A.F. Webb organised weekly Tuesday evening matches.
The club fielded four teams in the Birmingham league and also competed in the minor counties club championship, the club being represented by Messrs J.B. Vincent, J. Burton, H.J. Bellfield, R.W. Thomas and G.S. Gale.
One of the most successful players was R.W. Thomas playing for Warwickshire Juniors who during this season obtained the best junior score in the league lightning competition. He came second with 10 out of 11 in the Birmingham & District Junior League Summer Congress Open event. He was also awarded the Best Game Prize for his game against A.A Cunnane, whilst representing Warwickshire Juniors.
The club continued to field four teams in the Birmingham & District League throughout the 1950's. The main players were N. Foster, F. Burton, R.J Potter, D.G. Morgan, A. Hart, K. Kelly, E Hammond, R.J. Edge, S.H.V. Abbott, H. Roach, W.J. Wright, G. Hoskins, C.E. Packwood, J.A. Wyatt, G.W. Botteley, J. Carley, A.Webb and promising junior Derek Price and C Collins..
Membership remained steady through the early 1960's, where juniors Derek Price, Paul Sutton, and Paul Swatridge made a significant contribution. The club moved to St John's Church Hall in Sparkhill and now met on Thursdays.
During the summer of 1965 the Club celebrated its 21st Birthday with events including a living chess game, Yugoslavian Country Dancing and a buffet. The main organisers being Dick Igracev and Dennis Bishop.
The 1965-66 season showed a rapid growth in membership which increased to 45. The success of the club was mainly due to a large influx of juniors who accounted for 14 members.
Amongst the juniors were Clive Owen, Philip Maddocks, Simon Horseman, Peter Partridge, Chris Shephard, Terry Walker, Ken May, Ted Weekes, Martin Smyth and Simon Horseman. A great deal of encouragement was given by the secretary Dennis Bishop who gave up a lot of his spare time to ferry juniors to division matches 2,4,5,6 and 7. He was well known for the encouragement he gave towards the junior chess players and it was not unusual to come home from school and find Dennis outside the house in his mini asking if a player was available to play at Lichfield in ten minutes!
In 1966-1967 the first team were strengthened by the addition of Tony Woodland and promotion was consequently gained to Division 1. The fifth team won the Division 7 championship. Terry Walker represented Birmingham in the National Association of Boys Clubs Chess Championships in London.
After a Division 4 match at Warley, Reg Potter stopped at a strip club on the way home . He went in through the stage door and came back ten minutes later explaining that his house-keeper worked there!
In 1968-1969, juniors Andrew Shephard, Martin Coward and Colin Maltby joined the Club and teams played in divisions 1,2,4,5 and 7. The third team won the division 4 championship.
During this time it became a custom to go for a drink after a home match at the local pub (The Mermaid). It was here that many of our younger players had their first tipple. Young Martin Smyth accompanied his older team mates but had to be content staying outside sipping a 'Vimto'!
In 1969-1970 the club fielded teams in divisions 1-6 of the Birmingham League and ten new members joined the Club. The most notable incident of the season was the Captain of Division 2 Ernie Tipper taking the whole of the team to an away match in his van. On arrival at Warley he realised that we should have been playing at Sutton Coldfield!
In September 1970 the club moved to Botterville Road, Acocks Green and the new Secretary was John Bowness. Our division 6 side won the Townshend Trophy and our Division 2 side were runners-up in the Terrill Trophy losing to Sutton Coldfield 1. The Sutton side was particularly strong and included three Woods, B.H. and sons Chris and Frank.
Club member Reg Potter died on 30 September 1970 and the contribution he made to the club is remembered annually by the presentation of the Potter Trophy.
In that year the Warwickshire under 14 title was won by Martin Coward whist Colin Packwood came second in the Birmingham Open Easter Congress.
1971-1972 saw our first team promoted back to Division 1 and our Division 4 side retained the Townshend Trophy. A South Birmingham Team was entered in the weekend league and came first in Division 2.
Nine new members joined the club including Tom Latham, who went on to contribute so much administration to the club and the league.
September 1972 saw a further move for the club, this time meeting at the Methodist Church at York Road, Hall Green. Here we had one of our most successful seasons gaining promotion from divisions 2, 4 and 6, consequently providing two teams in Division 1. Our Division 7 side retained the Townshend Trophy for the club for the third consecutive year beating Bakelite Division 4, 8-1½. New members included Pat Cotter, Colin Searle and Chris McSheehy.
1973 saw the club move to Moseley, meeting now at the congenial Fighting Cocks Pub. Tom Latham was Secretary of the Club at this time and is remembered not only for his chess but also for knitting jumpers and holding a record for beer mat flicking!
We now had six teams in the Birmingham League including two teams in Division 1. The first team consisted of C. Shephard (199), C McSheehy (188), C Searle (169), T Walker (164), E Weekes (164) and M Coward (164). Derek Price failed to make the 1A side because at 28 he was considered too old. All the members of the 1A side were aged under 24!
We sent a team to Bristol to play in the British Lightning Championships. The team consisted of C Shephard, C Searle, C McSheehy, T.Walker and P Cotter.It was here that Terry Walker had to play Nigel Short. If Terry had won that game then chess history may have been different!
In 1974 the fourth team won the Division 5 championship and the third team were runners up in the Terrill Trophy.
1975-1976 saw 9 new members join including G Varnom, A Cope, H McLeod, M Loat and W Bellman. Our Division 4 side reached the final of the Townshend Trophy but lost to St James 7 whose team included Keith Arkell on board 6!
The club was challenged to a 30 board away match against Bridgend in South Wales. Terry Walker hired a coach and a team were duly despatched. Although the Bridgend Team was led by the international player Howard Williams on board one, they were outclassed by the overall strength of their opponents resulting in a South Birmingham victory.
Interest in weekend events continued, with the club reaching the final of the Midland Club Championship and the quarter finals of the National Club Championships beating Electra and Sunderland on route, before losing to Bristol University 2½ to 3½. The away venues for these events varied from Rotherham Library to Wigston Laundry and usually ended in much alcohol being consumed!
Chris Shepherd played in the Warwickshire Congress at Leamington and came 1st = with Nigel Povah.
To be continued....... 1976 - 2007 and 2007 - 2013