Club history

The Club was formed in 1947 and celebrated 50 years in 1997 with a boat trip on the River Hamble. The information below about its history was compiled by former President, Reg Clark at the beginning of the 1990s. Since that time, Jim Craig continued to be President until 2006 and Joe Coburn took over as Secretary in 1994-5. Club champions since 1989-90 may be found in the section on club competitions.

A Short History of Fareham Chess Club By R. C. Clark (Reg Clark)

1. Foreword

The facts recorded hereunder have been taken from official Club documents – Minutes of AGMs, Minutes of Committee Meetings and from other relevant data collected and collated by John Grant (who else?) and Mike Cole. Any comments or opinions expressed, however, are those of the present writer.

2. Inauguration

The Club was formed at a meeting held at the White Horse Pavilion, West Street, Fareham on 8th October 1947. There were seven founder members: –

F C B Hammond President
W H Pratten Secretary
G H Sydes Treasurer
H Cox
J Shaddock
D Critchett

Club evening Monday 6.30pm to 10.00pm (closing time in those days). The members subscribed 10/- (10 old shillings, 50p in today’s funny money) to enable the Club to continue until Christmas.


At the instigation of Wilf Pratten, the Portsmouth and District Chess League was formed in the same month, and the following matches were played:

  • Portsmouth ‘A’ v Portsmouth ‘B’
  • Fareham v St Johns
  • Municipal College v Cosham

Portsmouth ‘A’ were the winners with Fareham third. The first Club Championship was held and won by G H Sydes. By the end of the first season, the membership had risen to 14.

The White Horse “Pavilion” was a wooden hut at the rear of the licensed premises. To quote John Grant, “Those days were ones of considerable privation and hardship which probably no-one would tolerate now. We were careful to elect a President who could be relied upon to bring a sack of coke at the beginning of the season. The first arrivals had the duty of lighting the iron stove on cold evenings. On the odd occasions, the wretched thing refused to light, in which case the room would become filled with smoke tinged with the odour of firelighters. This meant opening the door and windows, which made it even colder!

3. Chronological Highlights (and some lowlights)

1948-49 Fareham won the Portsmouth and District League (PDL) with only 10 members.

1949-50 (After the Lord Mayor’s Show). The Club finished bottom of PDL with 2.5 points from 8 games, the other clubs being Cosham, Portsmouth ‘A’, Portsmouth ‘B’ and Colts. Membership fell still further to 8. In his end of season report the Secretary wrote “….. at times I wondered whether we should finish as a Club or a memory.” This was prophetic, because the Club disbanded and did not meet during 1950-51.

1951-52 The Club was reformed at the AGM on 19th September 1951. Messrs Hammond and Sydes were re-elected President and Secretary respectively. Membership was 10 of whom 5 (Pratten, Grant, Johnson, Farmer and Krustins) will be remembered by older club members. The PDL Championship was again won with 9 wins, 1 draw and 2 losses. G H Sydes won the Portsmouth Individual.

1952-53 With 12 members the club ran 2 teams in PDL (in those days 5 boards per team). ‘A’ team second of 6 in Division 1.

1953-54A highlight year. Membership rose rapidly to 16 adults and 7 juniors. PDL was won with a whitewashing 10 wins from 10 games. Wilf Pratten won the Portsmouth Individual and donated his Silver Rook trophy to the Club. J W Cordery donated the trophy which bears his name. As far as I can ascertain he was not a member himself, but the father of one of the juniors.

1954-55 The Club moved from the White Horse Pavilion to a room at the back of the Bugle Hotel. No doubt a great improvement, but heat was provided by an evil-smelling, gas-fired stove. It is a wonder to me that the members’ health was not affected. They were probably saved by the beer. Mr Hammond presented a trophy for the winner of the Lightning Tournament. Two teams of 10 players (with John Grant and Eddie Potter playing in both) were entered in the Postal Chess League. The first team won Division 3 and the O’Hanlon Trophy. There is a photograph of 9 members of the winning team.

1955-56 We won the PDL for the fourth time and J Borland qualified for the British Championships.

1956-57 Three teams were entered in PDL for the first time. ‘C’ team won Division 3. International Master Harry Golombek gave a simultaneous display at the Club in January 1957. P20, W18, D2. He was then made an Honorary Vice President of the Club.

1957-58 The ‘C’ team again won PDL Division 3. It would appear that, at the time, the clubs requested which division of the League their various teams should play in with no automatic promotion.

1959-60 Wilf Pratten was elected an Honorary Vide President on re-joining the Club.

1960-61 John Grant stood down as Secretary after 8 years in office but became Treasurer for many years afterwards.

1961-62 A big increase in membership to 33. ‘B’ team won PDL Division 2 and were promoted.

1962-63 Two teams in PDL Division 1, but perhaps inevitably, the ‘B’ team finished bottom and were relegated.

1963-64 Wilf Pratten gave a simultaneous – W15, D3, L2.

1964-65 A team was entered into the Hampshire League and became joint winners with Portsmouth.

1966-67 K Estlin presented a trophy for the beginning of the season Lightning Tournament. Wilf Pratten won the Bognor Regis Veterans.

1967-68 PDL won after a very close finish with Gosport. The number of boards per team was increased from 5 to 6.

1968-69 ‘B’ team won PDL Division 2, but were not promoted.

1969-70 ‘B’ team again won PDL Division 2.

1971-72 ‘A’ team won PDL Division 1 once again narrowly leading Gosport. I have good reason to remember this as I played for Gosport in the crucial last match of the season, which Fareham won 3.5-2.5. Arthur Brameld had joined Fareham and played top board.

1972-73 The club room at the Bugle was due for demolition. The Club moved to the Royal Oak, West Street and Trinity Street. Membership rose to 44. G W Farmer died. He had been a member since 1948 and President since 1965.

1973-74 The Club moved to Fort Wallington Tavern in January 1974. The names of Craig, Massey and Silber appear for the first time in the list of members.

1974-75 The Club moved once again, this time to its present venue, Fareham Working Mens’ Club. ‘A’ and ‘B’ teams finished bottom of PDL Divisions 1 and 2.

1975-76 ‘B’ team won PDL Division 3. Arthur Brameld gave a simultaneous, W18, D1, L1.

1976-77 Four teams entered in PDL. Arthur Brameld gave another simultaneous, W20, D6, L4. Eddie Potter died – a very popular and much respected club member since 1954. His son donated the Potter Table and Set in his memory.

August 1977 Display in Fareham Shopping Centre This was a great PR exercise which gave the Club much publicity and not a few new members. The main feature was a continuous simultaneous display by one or more club members against all comers. It took place from 15th through 20th August inclusive. In that time, 679 games were played with 645 won, 12 drawn and 22 lost. The brunt of this task was shared by 5 players – Mike Cole, Martin Street, Warwick Silber, Arthur Brameld and Rod Addison. Arthur played an astonishing 400 games with 389 wins and 7 draws. One very welcome visitor was G H Sydes – a founder member. Not all opponents were novices. Members of PDL Chess clubs who put in an appearance were Roy Prince, Ian Welch, Barry Coppin, Arthur Langley, Dave Smith, Colin Fairall and myself.

1977-78 The membership rose to 61, the highest so far. Five teams in PDL (‘D’ and ‘E’ in Division 4). Harry Golombek gave another simultaneous, W24, D1, L3. Arthur Brameld also, W19, D4, L2 (there are photographs of this one). Alan Evans left the club on leaving the district and was elected Honorary Vice President. He had been Secretary from 1961-1974 without a break, including the unsettling period when the club had thrice to find new premises.

1978-79 The membership rose still further to 71. Six teams in PDL. Wilf Pratten ran the first Fareham Junior Tournament. Brian Massey donated the Sur-prize cup for the biggest upset in the Club Championship. First visit by Club members to Vannes as part of the Borough’s twinning arrangements. This has become a highly successful annual event – our end of it being organised by a Twinning Committee chaired by Jim Craig.

1980-81 Five teams in PDL. ‘A’ team relegated from Division 1. ‘B’ team promoted from Division 3.

1981-82 ‘A’ team won Division 2 and ‘C’ team won Division 3. Club Championship won by Jonathan Goddard (aged 13) first time ever by a junior.

1982-83 The PDL introduced a knock out competition. Mike Cole had left the area after much yeoman service to both the Club and League. The cup for the winner of the competition was named after him in recognition.

1984-85 Wilf Pratten died – a founder member and one of the strongest players in the Club’s history. John Grant was elected Honorary Vice President for his long years of service to the Club, League and County Association. Donna Pothecary won the U-11 British Girls Title.

1985-86 Jonathan Goddard won Hampshire Individual Championship.

1986-87 John Grant died. A Club member since 1951, he held the office of Secretary or Treasurer for most of that time and only gave up because of his final illness. At the same time he was either Secretary or Treasurer of the PDL and held a similar post with the Hampshire Chess Association. As if this were not enough, he contributed a weekly column to the Portsmouth News for some years. No mean player – he was three times Club Champion. Claire Lusher won the U-11 British Girls Title.

1987-88 ‘B’ team won PDL Division 2. The John Grant Memorial Cup was awarded to the player with the highest percentage score in any one division of the PDL. A minimum of 5 games must be played to qualify. The Club’s 40th Anniversary was celebrated by a special Christmas Party to which members of all PDL clubs were invited and a good number of visitors attended. The proceedings followed the usual format of Crazy Chess (Fareham vs Visitors), a raffle and lots of food and drink. Claire Lusher won the U-13 British Girls Title.

1988-89 ‘A’ and ‘B’ teams in PDL Division 1. ‘B’ team finished bottom. James Poulton won the Under 15 British Championship. Tony Corkett won Hampshire Individual and qualified for British Championship.

1989-90 After years of indifferent league results, it all came right. The ‘A’ team won PDL Division 1, but only by leading Gosport by the narrowest of margins. Three strong players – Tony Corkett, Dave Cordner and Paul Kemp had come to live in the Borough and at the same time two juniors, James Poulton and Joseph Monk had progressed to ‘A’ team strength. The sixth member of the team was Joe Coburn – three times Club Champion. Paul Kemp and Joe Coburn could not play regularly owing to their duties and Warwick Silber and Dave Coates came in when required, both making good scores. The youthful ‘C’ team, well captained by Claire Lusher, gained promotion to Division 2. Ted Royds-Jones, at the age of 91, played in a Division 3 match and won – the oldest player ever to do so? Tony Corkett again won the Hampshire Individual.

1990-91 Fareham ‘A’ won division 1 of the P&D League

1991-92 177 players played in the League 29 fewer than last year

1992-93 We were at FWMC from 1975 and moved to Cams Rugby Club in the summer of 1993.

1993-94 Fareham won the ‘Mike Cole Cup’. W.Silber became Vice President of the P&D League and served again as Vice President in 95,96. A.Brameld won the ‘John Grant Cup’. Ted Royds-Jones died 6th jan 1993, in his earlier life he taught Physics at Price’s Grammar School, that was situated in Park Lane on the housing estate opposite the Leisure Centre. His famous feat of daring was to do a parachute jump for charity when he was in his 90’s.


D.Cordner became ‘Mike Cole Cup’ controller. In April 1996 we moved to Collingwood Junior Rates Mess, Cams Rugby Club was going to be renovated in readiness for the Millennium. A list of names needed submitting to Collingwood Security each time a visiting team was due to play at our venue.

1998-99 Fareham won the ‘Mike Cole Cup Plate’; they finished 4th in Division 2 and were offered promotion to Division 1 and accepted.

1999-00 Fareham ‘A’ were relegated to Division 2

2000-01 Moved to the WOs & Senior Rates Mess in Collingwood from 4th July 2000. We had 3 ladies join the club.

2001-02 Dress Code was now to be a requirement at Collinwood because we had moved into the officers mess.

2003-04 In January of 2003 we visited Stubbington scouts organising chess for the youngsters; and on two other occasions in later years. We only managed 1 team in the League and that was in division 3, but then went on to win this division. D. Elliott helped win this division by dropping only 2 draws in 8 games. Ernst Polizuk died in 2003. Several club members attended his cremation at Portchester and his son praised the FCC for making his dad so welcome and giving him so much pleasure. He had quite a “romantic” background since he was a POW and married an English woman after the war.

2004-05 Wilf Pratten had died in 1985 and all his game notes were presented to Fareham Chess Club by his wife, the Club then decided that the P&D League might make better use of them; they in fact found a publisher in Scotland who produced a book illustrating the games. We increased the number of teams we had in the League too two.

2005-06 Fareham ‘A’ won division 2 and was promoted, to celebrate D.Elliott laid on a barbecue. P.Waller became Chairman of the Club. And on 16th May 2006 an E.C.M. of the Portsmouth & District League decided that Fareham had not brought the game into disrepute, where-upon Fareham Bishops played Fareham Knights in the final of the rapidplay.

2006-07 A Honorary Life Membership category was introduced, S.Eva was awarded the Honour for his services to the Club, and A. Corkett was awarded the Honour For his excellent ability.

2007-08 O.Bates died 6th June 2007. When he died he was busy creating an arboretum near Peel Common and at one time we were considering using an old barn on this site if a new venue was needed in a hurry. This contingency was necessary because HMS Collingwood tightened up security a great deal during the 1 st Iraq War and we thought we may have to move. We had hope to celebrate the 60th year as a Club by visiting Spinnaker Tower that fell though and instead we Celibrated with a barbecue at P.Waller home. An Honorary life membership was awarded to B.Massey for his long service to the Club. C.Smithers won the John Grant Cup. Fareham won the ‘Rapidplay’ and the’ Cole Plate’

2008-09 P.Waller became the Vice President of the Portsmouth & District League. Honorary Life Membership was awarded to J.Craig for his services to the Club. Fareham added a third team to the P&D League. Reg.Clark passed away 14th Feb. 2009.

2009-10 R.Davies became our new Chairman, P.Waller ran the web site but was now Leaving the area and so handed over to E.Black. J.Craig presented P.Waller with a memento for his services to the Club. P.Waller laid on a barbecue as a farewell gesture to all the friends he made at the Club.

2013-14 The club changed venue from the Limes to the Duke of Connaughts own Club. Chris Buck was elected President, with Rob Davies taking up the role as Club Secretary.

4. Honourable Mention

Since its formation, the Club has had many good players and many capable administrators. In my opinion, however, the following deserve special mention.

For chess playing ability : Wilf Pratten, Arthur Brameld and Tony Corkett.

For admin/secretarial services : John Grant, Alan Evans and Mike Cole.

Of the present membership, Jim Craig was the first to play at the Club while an apprentice at HMS Collingwood. He was away from the area for some years and re-joined as a full member in 1973. Brian Massey and Warwick Silber joined at about the same time and it is perhaps fitting that the three longest serving members should be our current President, Vice President and Secretary.

5. Conclusion

At the present time, mid-season 1990-91, the Club has a reasonable chance of retaining the PDL Championship, but it should be close because both Gosport and Cosham are very strong, the latter having acquired the services of the top players of the now defunct Manglers Club.

Appendix 1 – Presidents, Secretaries and Club Champions

1947 – 2019

1947- 48 F C B Hammond W H Pratten G H Sydes
1948-49 F C B Hammond G H Sydes F Johnson, W C Martin, G H Sydes
1949-50 F C B Hammond G H Sydes G H Sydes
1950-51 NO MEET
1951-52 F C B Hammond G H Sydes W H Pratten
1952-53 F C B Hammond J E C Grant W C Martin
1953-54 F C B Hammond J E C Grant J Borland
1954-55 F C B Hammond J E C Grant J Borland
1955-56 W C Martin J E C Grant R E Walmisley
1956-57 W C Martin J E C Grant J E C Grant
1957-58 W C Martin J E C Grant G W Farmer
1958-59 W C Martin J E C Grant P J Cartmell
1959-60 W C Martin J E C Grant N C Taylor
1960-61 W C Martin P J Cartmell W H Pratten
1961-62 W H Pratten A J Evans W H Pratten
1962-63 J E C Grant A J Evans T J De Buriatte
1963-64 J E C Grant A J Evans T J De Buriatte / A F Garner
1964-65 F Johnson A J Evans F Johnson / J E C Grant
1965-66 G W Farmer A J Evans A J Evans
1966-67 G W Farmer A J Evans J E C Grant
1967-68 G W Farmer A J Evans T Coulson
1968-69 G W Farmer A J Evans W H Pratten
1969-70 G W Farmer A J Evans T J De Buriatte
1970-71 G W Farmer A J Evans J Morris
1971-72 G W Farmer A J Evans T J De Buriatte
1972-73 G W Farmer A J Evans A F Brameld
1973-74 W H Pratten A J Evans W H Silber
1974-75 F Johnson A J Evans / M Cole A F Brameld
1975-76 J E C Grant M Cole A F Brameld
1976-77 A J Evans M Cole A F Brameld
1977-78 T J De Buriatte M Cole M L Newbury
1978-79 T J De Buriatte M Cole / R A Goldstone M M Street
1979-80 M Cole J E C Grant M M Street
1980-81 M Cole J E C Grant M M Street
1981-82 M Cole C V Fairall J R Goddard
1982-83 W H Silber S F Young J R Goddard
1983-84 W H Silber S F Young J R Goddard
1984-85 W H Silber S F Young J A Coburn
1985-86 W H Silber J A Coburn J A Coburn
1986-87 W H Silber J A Coburn J D Eva
1987-88 W H Silber J A Coburn J A Coburn
1988-89 R C Clark J A Coburn W H Silber
1989-90 R C Clark J A Coburn J C Monk
1990-91 J R Craig W H Silber J Poulton 
1991-92 J R Craig W H Silber W H Silber
1992-93 J R Craig W H Silber A R Corkett
1993-94 J R Craig A R Corkett A R Corkett
1994-95  J R Craig J A Coburn A R Corkett
1995-96 J R Craig J A Coburn J A Coburn
1996-97 J R Craig J A Coburn A Wykes
1997-98 J R Craig J A Coburn S Eva
1998-99 J R Craig J A Coburn J A Coburn
1999-00 J R Craig J A Coburn J A Coburn
2000-01 J R Craig J A Coburn A Wykes
2001-02 J R Craig J A Coburn B Tottle
2002-03 J R Craig J A Coburn J A Coburn
2003-04 J R Craig J A Coburn M Mitchell 
2004-05 J R Craig J A Coburn S Crockhart 
2005-06 P Waller  J A Coburn R Raghavan 
2006-07 P Waller  J A Coburn J A Coburn
2007-08 P Waller  J A Coburn E Black
2008-09 P Waller J A Coburn J Henderson
2009-10 R Davies J A Coburn A R Corkett
2010-11   R Davies J A Coburn A R Corkett
2011-12   R Davies J A Coburn A R Corkett
2012-13   R Davies J Webb A R Corkett
2013-14   C Buck R Davies  A R Corkett
2014-15   P Bennett R Davies A R Corkett
2015-16   J A Coburn  R Davies  A R Corkett 
2016-17   A R Corkett R Davies A R Corkett
2017-18   A R Corkett R Davies A R Corkett
2018-19   A R Corkett R Marsh A R Corkett
2019-20 A R Corkett R Marsh A R Corkett
2020-21 A R Corkett R Marsh A R Corkett