Austin Lockwood Tuesday, November 1, 2016
1970 was a watershed for chess in Wales with independence being obtained from the British Chess Federation. It was also a watershed for postal chess as BCF barred Welsh teams from competing in the Counties and District Correspondence Chess Championships, forcing Wales to seek its own path. It led directly to the creation of the Welsh Correspondence Chess Association.
Welsh teams had competed in the C & DCCC almost continuously from 1923 onwards. South Wales and Monmouthshire, after its formation in 1935, invariably entered teams but on a few occasions teams from West Wales and East Glamorgan had also participated. This event was the mainstay of postal chess activity in Wales and it was not until 1965 that a Welsh Individual Championship was started by the late Pat Parkes (Pontypool and Bridgend). He stood down in 1969 and the WCU asked Martyn Griffiths to take over the running of the event.
Martyn had been running the South Wales team in the C&DCCC and an informal ‘Welsh Dragons’ club which competed in the Postal Chess League. Competition for the South Wales team was increased by the introduction of second and third teams. This led to greater strength in depth and a more competitive edge at the top. Therefore, when the Welsh Championships also came under the same organizational umbrella there was suddenly a deluge of players wishing to compete. Candidates and Reserve sections were introduced with promotion and relegation.
The departure from the British Chess Federation meant that Welsh postal chess was in danger of losing the impetus that had built up over the previous few years. Therefore, a Welsh Zonal Team Championships was created with every Welsh zone, including North Wales, entering teams.
The International Correspondence Chess Federation (ICCF) refused to recognise Wales as an independent postal chess body, stating that the British Postal Chess Federation was the sole representative of postal chess in Britain. We were therefore barred from competing in international tournaments. The next step towards international recognition was to raise awareness of our existence and matches were arranged against a number of European teams. Our remarkable success in defeating France, Malta, Ireland (twice) and Belgium between 1970 and 1974 led to Martyn Griffiths being interviewed by the Western Mail and an article occupying most of the front page!!
Colin Wills took charge of the WCCA in 1976 and set as his aim full international recognition. This he achieved in 1982 and thereafter Wales was allowed to compete in such events as the World, European and NATO team championships and to enter players in the World Individual Championships.
Copyright © 2016 Martyn Griffiths