The First 20 Years

The opportunity has been given to me to say a few words about the Woodbridge Chess Club. By now you must be aware that the club was formed in 1977, but possibly you do not know why?

There was a growing disquiet around the Ilford and Wanstead Chess Clubs that fringe players were only needed for long distance journeys or easy games, and that superstars were recruited for important matches.

In those days some of the Ilford members met at The Horns public house on a Sunday morning. One day Bill Franklin (ex Ilford) brought two Wanstead players out with him for a drink. After long and thirsty discussions it was agreed that Bill would write to the London League to find out what was needed to set up a London League side.

The requirement was that a team consisted of 10 players. We set about recruiting them, without stealing from other London League teams. We achieved the 10 needed, 4 Ilford players, 3 Chadwell Heath, 2 Wanstead and a non-registered. Three reserves were selected Eddie and Simon Lee and John Franklin and we are delighted to see two of them have returned today without their short trousers.

We needed a name and, as the players lived mainly in Redbridge and Woodford and the fact that Redford was a famous actor. Woodbridge Chess Club was born. Rules were put in place, joining the club was by invitation only. Each player was expected to be available for all the London League matches. The board order was worked out by starting with the grading list and then adding or deducting points for wins and losses.

In 1977 Woodbridge joined the London League in division 7 and have now reached the heady heights of division 2. During this time the team has received 76 wins from defaults, while our losses are less than double figures.

Throughout these years Woodbridge has remained a social club. We have had three weddings, Vic Morris, Jorge Boden and Chris White and sadly two funerals Bill Davey and Tony Gascoyne.


We have travelled extensively to foreign parts. Our first trip was to Calais, to play the mayor’s team and back on the ferry the same day. We travelled twice to the Rhonda valley, staying overnight and having great memories of the dormitories and the ladies’ problems.


In 1987 we were invited to Veurne in Belgium where we played a double rounder winning 13.5 to 6.5. Two years later we were back in Veurne again and despite losing our top board prior to the tournament starting, we managed to win the first prize. 1991 found 4 players plus wives going to Ieper for the Cats tournament, where we finished a creditable 6th of 24 starters. Two years later were back in Ieper with two teams of 4 out of 19 starters. Our first team finished 7th and our second team won the tournament.
Once again in 1996 we went to Belgium and were treated exceptionally well by the Ieper club, who provided a meal after the match and drinks vouchers. It is not all been one way, in 1995/6 members of the Ieper chess club came to Wanstead to play in a Woodbridge tournament and were give presentation Royal Mint coin set each, which was well received.


We have also played in the Eastman cup. Essex K.O.Cup, Essex team, Essex 5 minute, Powdermill Capes tournament, many pre-season friendlies against East Ham, Beckton Rooks and others.


Apart from chess Woodbridge has played “Bat and Trap and visited Shepherd Neame brewery on a fact finding mission.


Woodbridge has paid its dues and currently boasts both The President and Chairman of the Essex League and the Fixtures secretary of the London League.


Thank you for listening so attentively and I would like you to raise your glasses and drink a bumper toast to the first twenty years of Woodbridge Chess Club.

Richard Manning
Publicity Officer 19/07/1997.