Pre-Olympiad memories by Stuart Hutchings

50 years ago, pre-Olympiad beginnings – Stuart Hutchings writes ……

 With the 2022 Olympiad in Chennai, India imminent, my mind drifted back some 50 years. When 1972 is mentioned, chess fans immediately think of the Fischer – Spassky World Championship match. For Wales, 1972 was also the first time ever the country played in an Olympiad.

Prior to that, on July 22nd and 23rd 1972, an historically significant event took place in Newport, this being Wales’ first match since seceding from the British Chess Federation (BCF). It was a double rounder against England, which according to ‘Chess’ magazine August 1972 also celebrated the centenary of the Newport and County Chess Club and 100 years since the death of Captain W. D. Evans, originator of the Evans Gambit.

In Y Ddraig at the time (for those who don’t know this was a WCU magazine produced a few times a year by T. Llew and Iolo Jones) only the board results were given, as follows, with the “hope to give more …… in our next issue”. Nothing more did appear as the next issue was taken up with a very comprehensive 1972 Olympiad report. Wales had Black on the odd boards in round 1.

Wales   England
Board Name Round 1 Result Round 2 Result Name
1. S. J. Hutchings  0 – 1 0.5 – 0.5 W. R. Hartston
2. M. Gavrilovic 0.5 – 0.5 0 – 1 J. J. Carleton
3. I. C Jones 0.5 – 0.5 1-0 M. J. Haygarth
4. G. T. Haigh 0 – 1 0 – 1 O. M. Hindle
5. D. J. James 0 – 1 0 – 1 P. S Milner-Barry
6. M. G Lexton 0.5 – 0.5 0 – 1 D. B Pritchard
7. J. K. Whitcutt 0 – 1 0 – 1 Mrs. J. Hartston
8. R. G. Taylor 1-0 0.5 – 0.5 Mrs. E. Pritchard
Round 1 Total Round 2 Total
2.5 – 5.5 2 – 6
Final Total
                                                 4.5 – 11.5  

Although the English team was not truly representative of its strength at the time, it was nevertheless an experienced team which made it clear to Wales that there would be tough times ahead. Wales were missing top board Howard Williams  who was putting in a very impressive performance at Caorle, Italy by finishing 4th in a star studded 18 player World Championship European Zonal tournament.

He and boards 1 – 5 above were selected as the team to represent Wales in its first ever Olympiad at Skopje in (then) Yugoslavia. Our first match was against a strong Italian side on 19th September 1972 in which Howard, myself and Iolo, the backbone of the Welsh team along with John Cooper for many Olympiads to come, all drew. We won our next 3 matches, and the journey was well and truly underway!

And now here we are 50 years later (!) …… good luck to Wales’ Open and Ladies teams in the 2022 Olympiad.