South Shields Chess Memorial Shield

A Tale of Three Well Loved Club Secretaries And A Shield

Simon McGuinness a long time member of our club handed this Memorial Shield back and I thought it would be a nice to record its history on our website . I asked other members for their recollections and received this wonderful piece from Ian Maughan and I share it with you in its entirety below .

When I first joined the club, back in the early Seventies, round about the same time as Stan Johnson and the much-missed Late Stan Hawes, it was in the process of moving from the old Marine & Tech (now South Tyneside College) to the Y.M.C.A. (no singing, please!) building in Burrow Street, just off Fowler Street. At that time, Eddie Jenkins was club secretary, a dapper, Noel Coward-like, well-presented gentleman, and very much in charge.

This was in the glow of the famous Fischer-Spassky Match; clubs were thriving and chess was on an upward spiral and almost front-page news. I think it may have been my first night there when a photographer from the Gazette arrived to take a photo of a very young Simon McGuinness and Eddie Jenkins – not quite as young – with some competition trophy – it may have been the Friend’s Bowl, it slips my memory? After Eddie died, his son Paul took over as secretary and ran the club successfully for many years. In those days, it was a real honour to be asked to play for one of the teams. I believe someone called Williamson played top board for the first team back then, Lance Oliver may have been on board two, I’m not sure?

Later for several years, SSCC regularly had a stall at the annual Flower Show at Gypsy’s Green. One year Geoff Capes turned up to tow a heavy truck along the prom. I remember on one occasion I attempted the slightly less strenuous feat of taking on eight opponents (a mixture of club volunteers and interested passers-by) in a simul. I don’t recall how I did. Probably not that well. But the idea was to attract public interest. We did usually pick up one or two new members through promos like that.

Sometime later, the club moved to St Hilda’s Song-Room and Arthur Tarn, took over as secretary. Smartly-turned out like his predecessors, decidedly one of the old school, and a stickler for formality, Arthur’s main claim to fame had to be his near-legendary tobacco pipe, which he’d take out at the start of a game and proceed to tamp the bowl meticulously with a small penknife and slowly but surely coax it into life. This procedure couldn’t be rushed. Not by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, the longer it took, the more I think he preferred it, sometimes not actually getting around to lighting it till late on in the middlegame! Or not all, if checkmate was reached first. Once he did manage to begin puffing away, I always thought he gave the distinct impression of being like Inspector Maigret deliberating over a particularly baffling murder case – and not actually playing chess at all! On cold winter nights at St Hilda’s chess was played in near Sub-Arctic conditions with attendees (I nearly said members) almost freezing to death over a sluggish, yet hard-fought Petroff Defence or a teeth-chattering Lasker’s Trap. Under Arthur’s efficient command, committee meetings were held regularly in the Citizens Advise Bureau offices, then above a shop in King Street. And true to form, specially typed documents were prepared for pretty much every eventuality. All three of these loyal club secretaries are owed a massive debt of gratitude and looking back their contribution to running “The Cannyfolk Chess Club” was invaluable and greatly appreciated. Certainly, well-deserving of a thank-you shield for all eternity.

Ian Maughan April 2017