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John H Watts (6th June 1934 - 25th March 2018)

Posted: Sat Mar 31, 2018 11:58 am
by John Upham
I am saddened to learn of the passing of John H Watts (6th June 1934 - 25th March 2018).

John was Secretary of the Surrey Border League for many years as well as Secretary of the Fleet & Farnborough Chess Club.

He had been suffering quite severely from dementia for several months.

The funeral will be on Monday 30th April, 11 am, at St Phillips and St James Church, Kings Road, Fleet.

John will be sadly missed.
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John H Watts (6th June 1934 - 25th March 2018)
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Re: John H Watts (6th June 1934 - 25th March 2018)

Posted: Sat Mar 31, 2018 6:22 pm
by Ian Thompson
Although I've known John since 1982, when I started work at the same company he worked for, I know very little about his early chess-playing career.

By 1982, he had given up playing competitive chess (until he started playing again in 2002 after retiring), although he clearly still followed what was going on in the chess world. He would make some comment on the latest chess news whenever I saw him around the office.

When he found out I won the Paignton congress some years ago, he told me he had also had a good result there, but I've no idea when. He also told me that at his best he was graded in the 190's. The only games of his I've been able to find are two against Bernard Cafferty from 1954, one of which he drew and the other he lost.

Can any of the older members of this forum tell us more about him?

(PS. I see he has been a member of this forum since 2008, although he never posted.)

Re: John H Watts (6th June 1934 - 25th March 2018)

Posted: Sun Apr 22, 2018 3:08 pm
by pgething
John Watts told me once that there was a year in which he won the West of England championship (perhaps this was at Paignton) and this qualified him to enter the British Championship, which he did. He found the competition was stiff, and hinted his results were not good. Nevertheless it was a considerable achievement, and more appropriate to a mention in the Eulogy than exact details of wins, draws and losses in league and county games.
Phillip Gething

Re: John H Watts (6th June 1934 - 25th March 2018)

Posted: Mon Apr 23, 2018 10:48 am
by Christopher Kreuzer
Can those out there with access to British Championship records track down the year of this British Championship and some more details?

Re: John H Watts (6th June 1934 - 25th March 2018)

Posted: Mon Apr 23, 2018 10:58 pm
by Richard Bates
Christopher Kreuzer wrote:
Mon Apr 23, 2018 10:48 am
Can those out there with access to British Championship records track down the year of this British Championship and some more details?
Britbase gives a "T.Watts" in 1955 which seems a plausible typo.

Re: John H Watts (6th June 1934 - 25th March 2018)

Posted: Tue Apr 24, 2018 10:09 am
by Ian Thompson
Richard Bates wrote:
Mon Apr 23, 2018 10:58 pm
Christopher Kreuzer wrote:
Mon Apr 23, 2018 10:48 am
Can those out there with access to British Championship records track down the year of this British Championship and some more details?
Britbase gives a "T.Watts" in 1955 which seems a plausible typo.
Possibly, but the 1961 grading list on BritBase has both JH Watts (Sphinx Coventry) and AT Watts (Leicester YMCA).

(There's also a Harold H Watts playing in the British Championship in 1954 at the same time John H Watts was playing in the U21 Championship, so there were at least three reasonably strong Watts playing chess in the 1950s.)

Re: John H Watts (6th June 1934 - 25th March 2018)

Posted: Tue Apr 24, 2018 8:06 pm
by John Saunders
Slightly unfortunate timing: I would probably be able to answer this question very quickly were I at home with my notes on old British Championships and my chess library available but I'm not.

However, I do have a computer with me and I have been able to find the answer via online newspapers. John H Watts played in the 1960 British Championship in Leicester and scored 3½/11. (Note that the 1960 championship is one of the few which I have yet to digitise for BritBase. It's actually next on my list to do when I get home - you see what I mean by unfortunate timing.)

EDIT: further info - 3½ wasn't the lowest score - CM Malcolm (Glasgow) and M Thompson (Southampton) scored 3/11. Curiously, Watts's name wasn't among the original starters listed in the Times on Monday 15 August but this is not unusual as there were often last-minute changes/additions to the line-up, notably in 1956 when Alexander entered at the last minute and went on to win the title. Elaine Pritchard tried to do the same thing in the Ladies Championship in 1959 but her entry was turned down. BH Wood was scathing about the apparent double standards.

I don't think Watts ever won the WECU title. There is a list of WECU winners on the Chess Devon website and his name didn't appear on it.

Re: John H Watts (6th June 1934 - 25th March 2018)

Posted: Sun Apr 29, 2018 12:20 am
by John Saunders
I have now uploaded to BritBase a file of games from the 1960 British Championship, played in Leicester:

http://www.saund.co.uk/britbase/pgn/196 ... iewer.html

I wasn't able to find many games as only about 30 were published in CHESS, BCM, The Times, the Manchester Guardian and a few other places. If anyone can find more I would of course be glad to receive them.

I found just one of John Watts's games in the championship - his first-round loss to Ken Lloyd, which Derek Horseman published in his chess column in the Coventry Evening Telegraph.