Aldreman Davies


The club was formed in April 1978 as a result of the success of the first Neath & District Junior Chess Championship, held at Alderman Davies’ School the previous March when 122 entries resulted in 79 participants. (The following year there were 182 entries and 18 others were stopped from entering). A record 135 took part in the Championships. The primary aim of the new club was to foster chess amongst school children and young adults in the Neath Area. The first meeting was held at Alderman Davies’ School on 10 April and tere were 35 people present, including 8 adults. This number grew so that when the club was formally founded on 5 June there were 15 adult members. The club name of Castell Nedd was adopted the following week.

The club held a series of friendly matches to test its strength, the first being played on 12 June against Killay, losing 4.5-8.5. The first winners for the club were Andrew Thomas, Robert Williams, Gary Hughes, all Junior, and Howard Roberts, a local dentist.

In the first season (1978/9), two teams were entered into Division 5 of the West Wales Chess League. A third team was entered late after Tycoch withdrew from the league. The ‘A’ Team comprising Lloyd Watkins *.5/12, Tony Roberts 7/10, Andrew Jones 6.5/10, Andrew Thomas 7/12, Michael Thomas 7.5/13 and Karl Griffiths 5/8 won promotion to the Fourth Division by finishing third. This was in spite of being the bottom but one team as late as February!

1979/80 saw 5 teams entered by the club. The ‘A’ team – Martyn Griffiths, Michael Thomas, Karl Griffiths, Paul Grieg, Andrew Thomas and Lloyd Watkins (who left after 5 games to work in Germany), were the Fourth Division Champions with 12 wins, 2 draws and no defeats. The ‘B’ side finished third and only missed promotion on Game Points. The ‘C’ team, led by A.D. (Tony) Roberts and Keith Whitehouse also won promotion from Division 5.

Club Chess Roman Names


At the 1980 Annual General Meeting it was proposed that the club teams be given names and after a number of suggestions it was decided that the team names should reflect Neath’s Roman connections, hence Emperors, Consuls, Senators, Tribunes, Centurions, Gladiators, Legionnaires and later Barbarians. The first club trophy was also awarded at this meeting with Michael Thomas being voted Player of the Year. It was remarkable that in the first four years of this award it went to four different players, all living in Bryn Catwg, Cadoxton!

The ad hoc system of coaching the many young players in the club was not entirely satisfactory and in 1981 it was suggested that the former Neath club leading player be appointed the team coach. However, whilst initial approaches seemed favourable, this never came to fruition. Another problem at the club mentioned at this time was with regard to supplying refreshments. Most clubs about this time supplied some form of liquid refreshment during matches. Castell Nedd relied heavily on Dr. Coats and other volunteers and this was becoming an increasing burden. Although various suggestions were put forward over a number of years to combat this, eventually no refreshments were supplied and this is now the norm throughout the West Wales league.

The secretary commented at the AGM that “membership is now at maximum level. Some sort of control is needed”. This reflected the perennial problem of balancing the number of junior members with sufficient adult membership. Whilst the club may promote junior chess, adults are needed to run the club, provide transport, supervise, coach and to supply some substance to teams thus enabling juniors to develop at their own pace. At this time there were 37 club members and membership was restricted to 40. This number was to grow to a maximum of 50 ten years later when a waiting list for juniors was introduced.

Len Powell of Port Talbot helped the club enormously by obtaining sponsorship for six chess clocks – a major expense at any chess club.

The continued improvement of the club was guaranteed when Glyn Sinnett decided to transfer from Neath Chess Club and boost the strength of the Emperors’ team.

Catwg Primary School


By 1982 the club had regrettably left it’s first home at the Alderman Davies’ School. A temporary home was found at St. Catwg’s Church Hall, Cadoxton, but this was not entirely satisfactory both because of the limited number of rooms available, and the rental of £5/night.

The success of the previous season in attaining promotion to Division 1 left even the most optimistic of the club’s committee with reservations about the future. The Chairman “hoped the Emperors could stay in Division One” and the Secretary commented that he “did not believe that as a club we were strong enough to maintain a team in Division One, two and three yet”.

The move to Catwg Primary School and the excellent playing conditions there coincided with the remarkable result of winning Division One of the West Wales League. This achievement was even more remarkable in light of the Emperors crashing in their first match against Cardigan 0-6! This success led to the whole team being presented at the Mayor’s Patlour. The winning team was Martyn Griffiths, Michael Williams, Glyn Sinnett, Robert Saunders, Andrew Thomas and Michael Thomas.

It was achieved in spite of the highly volatile membership. The advent of Port Talbot Chess club, along with many of it’s members drawn from Castell Nedd, meant that Castell Nedd had lost the equivalent of 3 teams of players since the previous season. Nevertheless, success continued upon success. The club could list among it’s members 7 Welsh Champions over the previous 5 years.

Mike Williams was a remarkable enthusiast. He is the only player who has been allowed into the club from outside the area. This was at a time when transport was at a premium and his presence helped the club in that respect. His home was in the Rhondda and apart from playing in the East Glamorgan League, he travelled all over West Wales with Castell Nedd and also found time to participate in the Gwent League!

“Tactics flow from a superior position.”

Bobby Fisher
“Even the laziest king flees wildly in the face of a double check.”
Aron Nimzowitsch
“Chess is a fairy tale of 1,001 blunders.”

Savielly Tartakower
“The winner of the game is the player who makes the next-to-last mistake.”
Savielly Tartakower
“When you see a good move, look for a better one.”
Emanuel Lasker
“The pawns are the soul of chess.”

Francois Andre Danican Philidor
“The hardest game to win is a won game.”

Emanuel Lasker
“A sacrifice is best refuted by accepting it.”

Wilhelm Steinitz

Play in the West Wales Chess League

Castell Nedd Chess Club is a proud member of the West Wales Chess League, competing at the highest level. We are always looking for players so please get in touch.