We Were the Champions (10)

Our penultimate match of the 1975-76 season was against Islington 1, who had been champions four times in the 1960s, on the first occasion (1962-63) with a team almost entirely made up of teenagers. Those were the days! I was so lucky to have grown up at a time when chess was popular with teenage boys. (I might have been even luckier if the game had been as popular with teenage girls, but that’s another story.) Islington was famous not just for its chess club but for its pioneering and, in the 70s, very large weekend congresses. You’ll spot a familiar name, responsible for much of this, on B2. Another of the Islington pioneers, Ron Harman had, as you might have noticed last week, transferred his allegiance after obtaining a job with King & King, and Stewart would later join him at Cavendish. Although Stewart has lived in Twickenham for many years he’s never been a member of our club.

Sadly, Islington Chess Club disappeared a long time ago. Hackney are now flying the chess flag in that part of North East London.

We weren’t quite at full strength, so I had to make an appearance on bottom board. Yet again, we were helped by one of our opponents failing to arrive.

Join me now as we climb the many steps to the top floor of St Bride’s Institute.

17 March 1976 St Bride’s Institute
Richmond & Twickenham 1 Islington 1
1 AP Law 225 ½:½ S Webb 229
2 DSC Goodman 200 1:0 S Reuben 204
3 GH James 211 0:1 R Webb 208
4 MJ Franklin 192 1:0 JI Century 198
5 MJ Lightfoot 183 0:1 R Bailey 199
6 PJ Stubbs 179 0:1 EA Isles –
7 JC Benjamin 183 1:0 DI Patrick –
8 AR Bracher – 0:1 BF O’Sullivan 197
9 PJ Sowray 170 ½:½ NH Skinner 169
10 DM Andrew 182 1:0 Default
11 P Gillham 184 ½:½ CJ Marley 165
12 R James 174 ½:½ MJ Rose 167
6:6

If my game is anything to go by, we were fortunate to draw. I played the opening far too loosely and lost a pawn, but my opponent misplayed the ending and allowed me to salvage an undeserved half point.

The most interesting player in the Islington team, apart, of course, from Stewart, was Ted Isles. Google is your friend. There’s a lot to be written about London chess between the 60s and 80s. It’s a tale that needs to be told, while the likes of Stewart and Jimmy Adams (another of the Islington pioneers) are still around, but it’s not mine to tell.