History of Bridgend Chess Club

Although previous clubs are know to have existed in the town, the current Bridgend Chess Club was formed in 1968. There is some debate about the exact details leading to the first founding; Martyn Griffiths (then club Captain) and Byron Thomas (then club Secretary) set in motion the Formation of the Club. Below is the first record of BCC from January 1968.

1)The following officers were appointed:- Secretary : D.B.Thomas Treasurer : K.G.Bogue Captain : M.J.Griffiths
2) It was agreed that the club should meet on Thursday evenings and that the Coach & Hounds be adopted as Club Headquarters.
3)That the annual subscription fee be 1 per member and that the first seasons subscription be valid only until September 1968.
4)That the necessary enquiries be made with a view to the club entering the East Glamorgan League in the season 1968-9.
5)That a club championship be run every year.

Byron Thomas

Served as the club secretary from 1968-1984. In addition to being a prominent member of the clubs first team, he encouraged a steady flow of junior players from Brynteg Comprehensive School where he taught.

Martyn Griffiths

Wrote articles for the Gazette for a few years which generated a lot of interest. He also organised the club championships and played on board 1.

East Glamorgan Chess League

The Club joined the East Glamorgan Chess League (which organises chess in Mid Glamorgan and South Glamorgan) in September 1987 and quickly became one of the stronger member clubs. The league itself has been in existence since 1954 and organises and evening league for teams of five players between September and April each year.

Bridgend Chess Club Championships and Titles

BCC can proudly claim to be the second most successful in the history of the league with nine league championship titles between 1968 and 2012, which (although way behind the powerful Cardiff Club with 35 titles) is well ahead of any other club.
BCC have also regularly taken part in competitions by Welsh Chess Union, the annual Welsh KO Cup is open to teams of four players from all over Wales. Bridgend won the cup eight times between 1974 and 1995. In addition, the club won the prestigious Welsh Challenge Cup, an annual cup competition open only to champions of the County Chess Leagues throughout Wales in 1976 and 1977.

Key BCC Members

Several strong players have represented the club since its formation in 1968, notably Howard Williams between 1974-1980 and John Trevelyan from 1968-1992.

Howard Williams

Howard Williams won the Welsh individual championship outright on nine occasions and shared the title on a further eight occasions between 1968-1994 and has represented Wales in many Olympiads.
In his period at the the club, he lost only once in some 60 league matches and was a major factor behind the clubs Golden Age of the late 1970s.

John Trevelyan

John Trevelyan shared the Welsh Individual championship 1973 and 1979, and also played international chess for Wales.

European Chess Cup

A highlight of the clubs history was its participation in the 1978 European Chess Cup which saw the powerful Rotterdam club from Holland visit Bridgend in June 1978. Dr Max Euwe,the former World Chess champion in the 1930s was a member of the Rotterdam team which earned a 9 1/2 to 2 1/2 victory over Bridgend.
This was the only time a World Champion has ever visited Bridgend. Howard Williams was the only player to win a game in the match through beating international master Hans Bohms in the first game and drawing the second game. John Trevelyan drew one of his two games against Euwe, while Martyn Griffiths also drew a game.

25th Anniversary

A second highlight of the clubs history was the simultaneous display given by leading English grandmaster Murray Chandler in the Bridgend Recreation Centre in 1993 to mark the 25th anniversary of the club. Chandler took on 30 opponents winning 27 games, drawing 2 and losing just one in four hours of play.
Off the board, Dr Len Skinner, who has been a member of the club since 1974,was the co-author, with Robert Verhoeven of the Netherlands, of Alexander Alekhines Chess Games 1902-1946, which was published in 1996. The book is the definitive record of the playing career of the late World champion and was named Historical Book of the year by the United States Chess Federation.

While competing in league and cup competitions organised by the Welsh Chess Union and East Glamorgan Chess Association is an important feature of the clubs annual program, Bridgend club have also organised a club championship every year since 1968. John Trevelyan been the most successful player in the event with nine outright victories and one shared title.

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One thought on “History

  1. Glad to see the club still going strong. I believe I’m the only original member left – John Trevelyan was away with the R.A.F. when the club was formed. It doesn’t seem that long ago but amazingly over 50 years have gone by. The chess overall seems to be much stronger now and I think , when we formed the club at Bridgend, we were part of that revolution that took chess out of Cardiff where it had dominated the East Glamorgan scene for more than a century. The Caerphilly club was formed about the same time.

    We were lucky in that chess was being taught in some schools at the time. Today teachers seem to be too busy to set up and run chess clubs (my wife was a teacher so I have to be careful what I say!!). Byron and Ken Bogue were instrumental in bringing people to the club and we also benefited in the early years from three members from the Ogmare Valley who had been members of a league club there in the early 50s. Ron Stevens, who played top board for Bridgend, was the strongest of the three, but I also remember Tom Evans who said he had been one of the best draughts players in Wales – he was then well into his 70s.

    One of our development tactics in the early years was to hold friendly matches in the summer. These would be of 20 and more boards and were keenly contested. Certainly they set us up for a solid start to league chess in 1968.

    I remember one chap coming to the Coach & Horses who seemed to be a more than useful player. He came for about 3 weeks and then disappeared. At the time I was working in Police Headquarters and spotted his picture on a crime circulation. This chap had burgled I don’t know how many clubs and stolen their silver-ware. Obviously there was nothing worth taking at our chess club hence his disappearance! Or perhaps he was arrested and incarcerated.

    Happy days!


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