London Central YMCA (aka CentYMCA) Chess Club

Historical knowledge and information regarding our great game.
Richard James
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Location: Twickenham

Re: London Central YMCA (aka CentYMCA) Chess Club

Post by Richard James » Mon May 21, 2012 8:45 pm

John Upham wrote:
Richard James wrote:I notice that Neil Carr has played a few games for Writtle this year so Ivor Smith or someone out that way should have contact details for him
Thanks. Do you know if Trevor and Sue Carr are still on the chess scene? They were very active between 1978-83 as I recall.
The ECF Grading Database tells me that Trevor's most recent games were for Woodbridge in the London League between November 2006 and January 2007.

John Upham
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Location: Cove, Hampshire, England.

Re: London Central YMCA (aka CentYMCA) Chess Club

Post by John Upham » Fri Jun 08, 2012 12:29 pm

I am sorry to say that the planned reunion has had to be cancelled until further notice.

The venue has told me that the 16th of June was not viable as the room booked was needed from 5pm onwards for persons to watch a game of Association Football. :cry:

I have attempted to move to a date beyond the end of the football tournament but have told that a weekend day is not viable unless we can guarantee to spend a certain amount of money. Since I do not know the number of persons planning to attend I cannot make any guarantee. Even knowing the number of persons I cannot assume that a minimum amount would have been spent.

So, I suspect for us to hold this reunion without needing to make guarantees we will need to find a venue that does not have the same constraints.

Maybe my original thinking of the Folkestone / Maidstone area was right after all?

Please pass the word around that we have been forced to cancel to as many who might have turned up on spec.

I was very much looking forward to it!
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Malcolm Clarke
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Joined: Thu Oct 14, 2010 5:53 pm

Re: London Central YMCA (aka CentYMCA) Chess Club

Post by Malcolm Clarke » Fri Oct 24, 2014 8:33 pm

On this thread a few people had enquired about the current whereabouts of Sandys Dickinson. I came across the article on his game with Eric Schiller and it appears that there was a posting earlier this year from someone who ran a pub near Cambridge that Sandys regularly attended, indicating that he had recently passed away.

David Gilbert
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Re: London Central YMCA (aka CentYMCA) Chess Club

Post by David Gilbert » Sat Oct 25, 2014 12:00 am

That's a shame. I recently sent Daryl Taylor this game from the 1976 archives.

Gary Kenworthy

Re: London Central YMCA (aka CentYMCA) Chess Club

Post by Gary Kenworthy » Sun Jul 31, 2016 6:26 pm

More on the LondonYMCA and beyond.
My post of Gary Kenworthy » Sun May 15, 2011 9:41 am Still stands.
Malcolm Clarkes email does not cover the 3 year period when I was London Central’s First Team captain, as was also Michael Crewdson (between YMCA and Barbican years). Of Thu Oct 21, 2010 6:35 pm

First, some old YMCA info: Isidoro Yedlin went to Afghanistan as a war photographer.

We had many defaults in the last days of London Central, especially playing in the basement of Bishopsgate. We then moved to the Barbican, but subs and rents were an issue. So we wound up the club.

It was Michael Crewdson – “the Colonel” who in the Summer of 1990 introduced me to John McAllister. Michael was an ex- Guards Office, twice wounded in Italy, and after his medical recovery in the UK, joined SOE. He severed in the Far East. Later within Gen. Douglas McAthur’s staff in Tokyo. He was in charge of the police forces in SE Asia. In the UK, he often gave lectures at the British Museum on Japanese culture. He did many things post war, e.g. films, politics. One of his Holborn constituents was Dr Stephen Ward (Profumo Affair). Ward was stitched up and Michael was the listening ear.

John McAllister had the idea, a concept, of combining the three wound-up clubs:- BT, London Central and BP at the Barbican. Michael then said, I leave you two to work something out.
Brian Sammes was also all for it. I took their requirements and goals, thus I created a written plan on how to delivery it. I was also asked to become chairman, plus several extra roles. Without John the club could have failed a few times. It was his baby.
Winning the National Club and winning the London League, in the first year, were just two of the stated headline objectives.

Simon LeBlanc was a member of the winning National Club squad, just one game played. He was in a row of players, behind Dr C S, Crouch and N L Carr. When we played away at Portsmouth, in our first season. Then on the next row, J J Ady and myself on the bottom two boards. I believe Jon and Neil scored 5/6 that season.

Neil Carr’s last game was a return, after two years, against an Icelandic team, home at the Barbican, in the European Club Cup, September 1993, as this qualification was from the 1990/91 winning National Club side. He brought along his young daughter.

We have also lost Dr. Colin Crouch, who was often my socialising buddy, before I went to Europe for years.

The Barbican also hosted the first ever 4*NCL at the Barbican , just two weeks years apart. Also the extensive, Chessathon. During this month there was also the Kasparov v Short match at the Strand.

In May 1996 I handed over Barbican 4NCL to Dr Jon Rogers. A meeting at a Kings Cross Thameslink restaurant. He is still doing the hard job – very commendable.
There was a year when we were called Hertford. The league was only called 4*NCL for a very short period.

The winding up of the Barbican in the London League (we had moved to the Guildhall for two years) and the joining Cavendish was worked out with myself and Barry N Green (check out his 1969 start to the British Championship at Rhyl) and Philip Gregory; all mainly achieved over a curry near Bletchley Park.

Some found memories, and many of them.- Best wishes (FM) Gary Kenworthy.

Mike Truran
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Re: London Central YMCA (aka CentYMCA) Chess Club

Post by Mike Truran » Sun Jul 31, 2016 8:48 pm


Welcome aboard!


Daryl Taylor
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Joined: Sun Sep 20, 2009 7:40 am

Re: London Central YMCA (aka CentYMCA) Chess Club

Post by Daryl Taylor » Mon Aug 01, 2016 12:01 am

All of which chaos suggests to me that we should have taken the option of St Stephen's tavern when it was floated in the early to mid 1980s, and that the Colonel was miguided to counsel otherwise.

I still remember that meeting vividly. Partly for Mike Mozouros playing the role of a noisy devil's advocate, but mainly for Gary Stephens' superb analogy of boiling a live lobster by very slowly turning up the heat. The majority in favour of the move fell slightly short of the two-thirds target that we believed was necessary to prevent the club from splitting, with a resulting dispute over things like league status (especially as we might also have had to change our name). It had taken us years to establish teams in nearly all divisions of the London and Middlesex leagues, and had we then been deemed a new club, we would have needed to start that process all over again (as occurred with King's Head).

Andrew Martin
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Re: London Central YMCA (aka CentYMCA) Chess Club

Post by Andrew Martin » Mon May 22, 2017 3:21 pm

George Dickson, a longstanding member of the club, passed on this February. He will be missed.

Malcolm Clarke
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Joined: Thu Oct 14, 2010 5:53 pm

Re: London Central YMCA (aka CentYMCA) Chess Club

Post by Malcolm Clarke » Fri Jun 30, 2017 8:20 pm

Having read Gary Kenworthy's post I meant to reply earlier.

As I left London in 1988 I was only around for the first year of London Central and I formed the impression that in the first year things went reasonably well, although it was generally believed we had the players to get the first team promoted and I think that following the AGM of 1988 Michael Crewdson was appointed first team captain with the aim of doing this.

I also believe that in the 1987/88 season I attended a few events organised by the club at the Barbican, the AGM, a Raymond Keene simultaneous display and it was believe there that I discussed with Chris Morrison the possibility of him joining the club. Brian Sammes was of course a chess player and it was thought that he would be influential in proceedings.

I do remember coming back to visit the club in 1991 when Gary and John McAllister were in influential positions, but am not sure if apart from that mine and Gary's paths crossed since the club moved out of the London Central YMCA building.

Gordon Cadden
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Re: London Central YMCA (aka CentYMCA) Chess Club

Post by Gordon Cadden » Sun Jul 02, 2017 10:58 am

George Szaszvari wrote:
Dominique Conterno wrote:Hi George, yes you are right I am still living in the UK. I have had a 10 year break from chess due to work and family commitments, starting at the time of the club move to Barbican, but I have been fairly active both in OTB and correspondence chess for the last ten years. I have had contacts in the last few years with John Upham, Andrew Martin, Daryl Taylor, Paul Georghiou, Cathy Forbes (Warwick), Robert Kane, Mike Wills, Ray Cannon and Nigel Sharp.
The years at CENTYMCA were some of my best chess years. Having not only played in several teams there from 1976 till its closure, but also having captained the London League 2nd Division for several years, the Middlesex League premier division (I think) for a year and also having held the club treasurer position for a year. Needless to say that all of these bring back some very found memories to me. I am saddened that with the passing of time, a few old friends (Pierre, Mike, …) are no more with us, may they rest in peace.
I am now playing for two chess clubs in Northampton and for one of them I am its webmaster ( There is also a Facebook group for this club, called ‘Northampton Chessmates Chess Club’ and I invite all of my CENTYMCA friends to join it.
Good to hear that you're still involved and keeping well. I recall that you were delving into the works of Young, the
major and minor tactics of chess, and how those researches brought the game alive for you. The one who did the
same thing for me was Emanuel Lasker and his writings, and the one who introduced me to Lasker was David Murphy,
an ex-Cambridge University student. Oddly enough, David Murphy's new neighbor later on, somewhere in suburbia
south of London, was one Vernon Kirby, Fleet Street cartoonist and my ex-Bayswater buddy. They were apparently
in a secondhand bookshop looking at chess books and struck up a conversation. We got together a few times after
that but it wasn't long before David and I were attending Vernon's funeral (lung cancer got him.) Anyway, before that
I had gone to work in West Germany and had asked David to take over corresponding with my Japanese pen pal I had
at the time, the young son of a professor of philosophy at Hiroshima Universtity. David started learning to play Shogi
(Japanese chess) with this pen pal, eventually to become European Shogi Champion and visited Japan at the invitation
of the Japanese federation.

Incidentally, a couple of other people I know have actually gone to live in Japan permanently, one Richard Sams, an
ex-Cambridge history graduate who hung out with the David Curnow and John C. Pigott crowd in the 70s. In later
years I used to visit Richard (that's RJF Sams) at Mount Pleasant where he worked for some time typesetting chess
and other publications for Graham Hillyard (another chess character to recall) and our favorite place to lunch was
that superb fish & chip shop on Theobald's Road ;0) Richard got into buying and selling Japanese prints and within
a couple of years was speaking fluent Japanese and living in Japan. He visited London after a while (this was the 90s)
and I still have the Japanese fan he left with me. An aikido friend of mine, John Nicholls, married a Japanese lady and
moved to Tokyo and I was able to put him in touch with Richard. They are both still in Japan last I heard (annual Xmas
card and occasional emails from John.)

BTW Richard Sams was a tough competitor and great at picking holes in one's chess illusions. For example, by 1971-2
I started playing this variation of the Najdorf Sicilian with black: 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5
Nbd7 7.Bc4 Qa5 8.Qd2 e6 9.0-0-0 b5 and now 10.Bb3 is the accepted main continuation, with black playing 10...Bb7,
etc, an obscure line occasionally essayed by Petrosian, Korchnoi and Reshevsky. But a lot of players, apparently
unfamiliar with the details of the line, would jump into the deep end with either 10.Bxe6 (which is insufficient) or more
often 10.Bd5!? when 10...b4! must be played (10...exd5 is not a good idea as Ray Cannon used to like to demonstrate)
and I won a few games with this whole thing typically going 11.Bxa8 bxc3 with an apparently crushing position for black,
white playing Nb3 and black going ...Qa3+ followed by ...Nb6 to a4, or ...Nc5 is possible, while ...Nxe4 is also in the air.
Try putting these positions on today's Fritz and you will find moves for white, as Richard did, much to my consternation,
long before Fritz existed, that keep the game complicated and alive for white! Another club player who successfully used
this line to garner points as black was Mick (surname?) of Streatham & Brixton (Steve White and Nigel Povah know who
I mean.) Mick and I both won on the black side when Nigel invited John Nunn to give a simul at S & B (Nunn did the
10. Bd5 thing against me, but played more solidly against Mick yet got outplayed.) Nunn asked us about the line since
he wasn't familiar with it's details!

Aah yes, a young Paul Georghiu was another YMCA regular in the last years of the club. Sorry to hear that Mike Wills
passed on... the way people were posting here recently, I guess most thought he was still around. RIP. The London
CentYMCA Chess Club could well have been called the Mike Wills Chess Club. One amusing incident I'd just like to relay
there was at the Karpov v YMCA simul in 1972. Karpov was taking the chess world by storm at that time and the number
of strong club players lining up to play him was impressive. Moreover, Karpov was more than willing to answer general
questions posed before the start of the simul, Mike Wills standing out there with Karpov in the middle of the floor
interpreting (Karpov spoke some English but was not yet fluent enough, and Mike's Russian was pretty good). There
were a number of routine questions and answers about chess, etc, before Irwin Lipnowski, a strong player visiting from
Canada, keen to participate in the simul, decided that the proceedings were far too polite and inconsequential, and
quickly rambled out a completely inappropriate and embarrassing question about current Soviet politics and East-West
relations, causing a minor uproar with much giggling and Karpov gesticulating strongly to stop even before Lipnowski
had finished. (Youngsters not familiar with the paranoia of people living in Soviet bloc countries at that time need
to talk to some older souls who can explain it.) The expression of shock and disbelief on Mike Wills' face was such
a picture it has always brought on a smile whenever I'm reminded of that moment. Jimmy Adams at the time said
something about Lipnowski having had a few drinks beforehand... figures. Anyway, things got back on track and the
simul soon got under way, with Lipnowski participating, his Pirc/Modern Defense duly demolished in one of Kaprov's
better games from that event.

Wow, I'd better stop rambling and run a few errands ;0)
The claim that Mike Wills has passed on, is somewhat premature. Received birthday greetings from him this year (2017).

Malcolm Clarke
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Re: London Central YMCA (aka CentYMCA) Chess Club

Post by Malcolm Clarke » Sun Jul 02, 2017 8:33 pm

I think that the confusion relating to Mike Wills is explained in this thread through the latter posts on page 14 and the posts on page 15.

Andrew Martin
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Joined: Sun Feb 12, 2012 4:37 pm

Re: London Central YMCA (aka CentYMCA) Chess Club

Post by Andrew Martin » Tue Dec 04, 2018 10:41 pm

The Houshang Nasseri saga. ( 40th anniversary edition - how time flies)

From the backstreets of Teheran
Came Houshang Nasseri
champion to be
His Daddy quit home and he was only two
When another monkey came
to join the zoo.
Young Houshang was cast aside
It was never going to be an easy ride
So he drifted by himself,all alone
From coast to coast
Trying to find a home
And in good old London he settled down
Above a dirty bookshop in the heart of town.
He didnt go to work
Why he couldn't care less.
Played games with himself
and one of these was chess...
And though young in years Houshang found himself
This was his scene like nothing else
Didnt care for women
Didnt listen to the hits
All he want to do was Blitz,Blitz,Blitz
One thousand miles an hour was Houshang’s creed,
The fastest clock alive, the king of speed.
Waiting for the error. Punishment time.
The latest word in chessboard crime.

Amen to that .
and so one fine day
he was playing with a chess set from the YMCA
Where the smoke fills the air
and there's dirty latrines
and the food makes you vomit from the vending machines.
So the saga began
and he made some new friends
with a black man and a frenchman and a hippy called Sandys
His chess slowly improved and we were all amazed to see
In 1966 Houshang champ of GB!
Got his grandmaster title not long after
bribing Max Euwe with a foot-long steel girder
Playing in Europe, Argentina too
building up an empire
his skill everybody knew.
But the Candidates provided a stiffer test
And the crafty reds set back this tramp from the West
So saddened Houshang had to make a new start
Restored morale by dressing so smart
and then won a few tournaments by playing 1 f3
The natural response was to utter 'f**k me!'
An Eastern magician with his bag of tricks.
He even began to develop 1...f6
And again he tried for the world championship
Beat Matulovic in 20 moves with a king-sized tip.
Semi-final Spassky
taken down in a way
He’ll never forget to his dying day
Interlocking pawn chains kept him out
Until he had to surrender to the Persian lout
The final came fast ,Karpov next up in line
Nasseri thought everything would be fine
Nothing could stem the Iranian tide
1 f3 again, got the crowd on his side
Who would want to be in the little mans shoes
as the voice booms out
No chance for Karpov, totally lost
The Russians reckoned with everything
except Bob Pentecost.

And so it seemed that Houshang just couldn't be beat
One billion games without defeat
An impenetrable barrier of white-squared pawns ,
until one day, a player took the bull by the horns
and challenged Nasseri to a duel.
Well,of course Houshang thought he was playing the fool.
Took the match jauntily, strictly for laughs
his opponent played chess,while he played draughts!
Until he saw the world title slipping away
and confidence broken,nothing to say
he wasn't world champion any more
whipped by an overwhelming score.
His opponent ,anonymous,took off his disguise,
Nasseri nearly dropped dead with the terrible surprise!
Short,plump,rumbustious took the attack!!
The new world champ was the man in black!!!
And on that title he kept a lock
Played all his games with five minutes on the clock.
Meanwhile Houshang was broken,slipped out of the scene
Gave up the game and came clean.
And now he's a road sweeper filling his days,
Playing cheap games of chance in sweaty,smoke-filled cafe's
Leaving Peiris riding high.
He has no peers
Except for the Russians who have other ideas.
Is the fat man’s supremacy set to last?
Or will the penguin be extinguished by a sudden icy blast?
Last edited by Andrew Martin on Thu Aug 06, 2020 3:54 pm, edited 9 times in total.

Simon Brown
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Location: Sevenoaks, Kent, if not in Costa Calida, Spain

Re: London Central YMCA (aka CentYMCA) Chess Club

Post by Simon Brown » Wed Dec 05, 2018 9:46 am

Thanks Andrew. Brings back a few memories, and I like the additions... So many years ago but still seems like yesterday!

Andrew Martin
Posts: 844
Joined: Sun Feb 12, 2012 4:37 pm

Re: London Central YMCA (aka CentYMCA) Chess Club

Post by Andrew Martin » Wed Dec 05, 2018 11:55 am

Hi Simon

I hope to be around for the 50th anniversary presentation.

Speaking of memories ,whatever happened to Bob Pentecost? Of all the eccentrics at Centymca, he was one of the oddest.

I’ll never forget that at one match, Bob was proudly displaying a set of photographs that appeared to show him winning a distance race at a Civil Service athletics meeting. There was Bob in singlet and shorts, breasting the tape, hands held high, with the other runners a long way back. We all congratulated him on his victory.

Only later did it emerge that he had rigged the whole thing, joining the race with 10 metres to go to make it look as though he had won!

Of course he was more a Lewisham player, alongside Len Pickett, Norman Oliver and Tony Swift. Enough said!
Last edited by Andrew Martin on Thu Jan 03, 2019 9:34 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Roger de Coverly
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Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 2:51 pm

Re: London Central YMCA (aka CentYMCA) Chess Club

Post by Roger de Coverly » Wed Dec 05, 2018 12:41 pm

Andrew Martin wrote:
Wed Dec 05, 2018 11:55 am
Speaking of memories ,whatever happened to Bob Pentecost?
He kept the initials, but changed his surname. ... de=114272A

No games though.

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