Devon chess champion Steve’s knight to remember

Chess champion, Steve Martin, won the Devon chess championships. Ref shs 30-16AW 3337. Picture: Alex

Chess champion, Steve Martin, won the Devon chess championships. Ref shs 30-16AW 3337. Picture: Alex Walton - Credit: Archant

A chess-playing granddad from Sidmouth will compete on the world stage after being crowned the game’s best amateur player in Devon.

Steve Martin, 63, emerged victorious at the Devon County Chess Association individual competition following a fiercely contested match lasting four hours.

The Bennetts Hill resident is now looking forward to competing at the World Amateur Chess Championships in Kos, Greece, next year.

“Everyone is so pleased for me,” he told the Herald. “I thought to myself ‘I do not have a chance’. As I got through to the final, I went into it thinking ‘let’s just give it a go’ and no-one was more surprised than me when I won.”

Steve said more than 70 moves were played during the final and both players were under extreme pressure to not give their opponent any type of advantage.

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He added: “It is mentally stressful. You have to think many moves ahead and you try to analyse most of the possibilities.

“We analysed the game afterwards. It’s not like some competitive sports where you get a bit angry or upset - you know you have been beaten by a better player.”

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Former maths teacher Steve, who is treasurer of Sidmouth Chess Club, has been in love with ‘the beautiful game’ for five decades after taking it up aged 11.

“It is an absolutely beautiful game, I just enjoy the beauty of the it, it is both art and maths,” he said.

Steve is looking forward to meeting the world’s best players in Greece next year and enjoying the nine-day competition - whether he does well or not.

“I do not enjoy the stress and the mental strain, but it’s an opportunity to meet people and socialise and pit your skills against someone else,” he said.

“I will do my best, but chess is just a game - it’s not life and death.”

Tom Overthrow, chairman of Sidmouth Chess Club, added: “All of us are thrilled and very proud to have such a talented player and active clubman in their membership and we wish him well in the world amateur chess competition next year.””

The club meets every Tuesday evening in term time at Sidmouth College.

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