Junior Chess Association

by Jack Beard

A history published in the 75th League anniversary issue of the Bristol Chesstimes in 1982.

The Junior Association was formed in 1954 to supercede the Junior Division of the Bristol and District League which had not been the success hoped for when it was formed in the late nineteen forties.

The prime mover behind the Association was the late Vic York who, with John Milton (League Secretary at that time) and officers of the Bristol Youth Committee, conceived the idea of one central headquarters and a fixed evening for all matches.

The strength of the Association soon grew and, due to the wide disparity in ages and playing ability, the teams were divided into under 18, under 15 and under 13 sections. In the early days, the senior League gave financial aid and provided trophies, but teams had to bring 3 sets each for matches. To prevent this irksome chore, fund raising schemes were soon under way and a weekly attendance fee decided upon which has resulted in the Association now being financially independent.

The Association continued in the same format with the three age sections of teams of six until 1970, when it was shocked by the sudden death of the founder organizer, Vic York. The remaining officers found it impossible to fill the void left by this remarkable man and the Association began to 'stutter' a little and lose support. Fortunately, another 'larger than life' character stepped into the breach when Colin Pillinger joined the team and the Association has since continued to go from strength to strength.

The format of the Association was changed in the mid-seventies to teams of four (to encourage smaller schools and clubs) and to teams of mixed ages, with promotion and relegation. The present strength is eight divisions - fifty three teams from twenty two schools and clubs.

Early members of the Association still notable in local chess include David Jarrett and Mike Wood, whilst the hundreds of youngsters who have been able to participate in the King of Games owe a great debt to the many men (and long suffering ladies) who have given freely of their time and energy to ensure the hopefully smooth running Friday events.

The names that spring to mind (please forgive me if I've left any out) are Cyril Welch, Ivor Bollom, Dave Bye, Roy Turner, Terry Britton, Mike Slucutt, Mike Jones, Geoff Gammon, Roger Williams, Vince House, J.H.Vincent, Bill Bird, and Clem Heaven, while the Association is fortunate now to have the help of such stalwarts as Dave Woodruff, Paul Brown, Alan Ashby, George Miller and Granville Sykes.

Other important factors in the smooth running of Friday evenings are the members of staff who give up their valuable free time to accompany their teams and, of course, the management and staff of Youth House who have always been very co-operative, especially Steve and Lynn (the present caretaker and his lady).

In closing, may I say what a privilege it has been over the last twenty eight years to serve with such splendid people as mentioned, while I think that Vic York and Co. would be proud of the Association as it is today.