Archive for October 2nd, 2015

More from the irrepressible Badmaster (G.H. Diggle) here:

18. Blake’s deaf ear

The Badmaster (though on principle he never draws attention to his own errors when he has not been found out) thanks Messrs John Beach and J.C.Calvert for setting him right over H.E. Atkins. As Mr. Beach adds in his most interesting letter, the old lion lived to be over 90. Another famous chess nonagenarian was the redoubtable J.H. Blake. After retiring from serious play, Blake was in his later year Secretary of the aristocratic City of London Chess Club, which flourished between the wars at the imposing address of ‘Wardrobe Court, Doctors Commons’ (between St.Pauls and Blackfriars bridge). The club was on a first floor and occupied two spacious rooms on either side of the landing, one for match play, the other more of a lounge, with a refreshment bar and many portraits of masters on the walls, like the ‘Long Room’ at Lords. Occasionally the match room was let by concession for County Matches, and ‘Beds’ sometimes played ‘Berks’ there, the former team including R.H Rushton, T.W. Sweby, the Badmaster, ‘and others’. On one occasion the clans duly gathered for the fray, but remained for a time huddled together on the landing, as no one seemed to know who had the key. Through the frosted glass on the other side we could dimly make out several eminent club Members such as R.C.J. Walker and J.M. Bee (the Chess Editor of the ‘Sunday Times’) reclining at their ease in the ‘lounge’. After a while, the ‘the people began to murmur against Moses’, and a general air of ‘Why are we waiting?’ (though no one ventured to burst into song in that hallowed spot) pervaded the assembled warriors, until finally the venerable Blake himself (having been apprised of the situation) sailed into port and opened Sesame. At this point one of our more forthright lower Boards ( a hardboiled Lutonian),  who thought Blake was the caretaker, expressed (not too inaudibly) the view that ‘Old Rip van Winkle was past his job’. ‘T.W.S’ and the badmaster exchanged glances of inexpressible horror, but luckily Blake had suddenly grown very deaf… .

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