Ballarat Chess Club Personalities



C.M.Watson, a Ballarat lawyer, was the father of the future Australian champion (C.G.M.Watson, champion in 1922 and 1931).



A.G.M’Combe played an important part in the early history of chess in Victoria. A former secretary of the Glasgow Chess Club, he triggered off the surge in chess activity in 1855/56 in Melbourne which led to the very first tournament in Victoria (Melbourne 1856). After playing in the Ballarat tournament in 1867 he returned to Melbourne where he became editor of the Australasian chess column from 1867 until his retirement (in disgrace) in 1870.


Charles Marshall Fisher

The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.) issue Friday 2 May 1890

Charles Marshall Fisher (1845-Apr.1890) was born in Creswick, and educated at Brighton. After leaving school he spent some time in Ballarat, where he acquired so great a reputation as a chess-player that he was chosen as a representative of Victoria in several inter-colonial matches with New South Wales. Fisher was president of the Ballarat Chess Club 1867-? And one of the Vice-Presidents of the newly formed Victorian Chess Association in Sept.1877.

Later in life he resided for some years in Sydney, and was engaged there as a stock and sharebroker. He also occupied the position of chess editor of the Sydney Mail (1878-’79), and became known as a good player of blindfold chess.

In the year 1871 he returned to Melbourne, where he had a successful career as a sharebroker, and was understood to have realised a fortune in Broken Hill stock. He went to England about a year ago with his wife and daughters, and when last heard of he had gone to Nice, presumably in search of warm weather.

Mr. C. M. Fisher succeeded the late John Wisker as chess editor of The Australasian (1884-’85), and occupied that position with great credit to himself for several years. As a chess editor he was always distinguished by his perfect fairness, by his uniform courtesy, by his mastery as a judge of the merits of problem composition, and by his skill as an annotator of games.

As a chess-player his most brilliant and most famous achievement was his defeat of Mr. Louis Goldsmith at a time when that accomplished player was at the zenith of his chess strength.

The match, which was for the first five wins, partook of an inter-colonial character, being played during the years when Mr. Fisher was a resident in Sydney. The score at one stage was in Mr. Goldsmith's favour by four wins to two wins, but Mr. Fisher then showed his quality as a match-player by scoring the next three games in succession, thus winning the most interesting chess match that has yet been played in Australia.

After his return to Melbourne, he maintained his reputation as a match-player by twice carrying off the chief prize in handicap tourneys of the Melbourne Chess Club; Mr. Burns, Mr. Gossip, and other good players being among his competitors. As an odds-giver he was probably without a rival in Australia.

Of late years, however, his business engagements have been too engrossing to allow of his devoting much time to chess and he has been content to be recognised in Melbourne chess circles as one who had won his spurs as a member of the "old brigade." But it is known that during his holiday trip in Europe he had carried out the intention, of which he had often spoken to his Melbourne chess friends of testing his quality as a player in some of the most famous of the chess resorts of Europe; and ‘The Australasian’ of December 28 contains the score of a brilliant skirmish which he had won a few weeks previously at the Cafe de la Régence, in Paris. This is the last specimen of his chess skill which has been published in Melbourne.

Here is a brilliant blindfold victory by Fisher

The Hull Packet and East Riding Times (Hull, England), Friday, September 9, 1881

John Baynham

John was a Treasurer of the club for many years and we also have named the Reserve Championship after him. John played in numerous of the early Begonia events and visited the event each year after he could not play any longer.

His daughter wrote this moving memorial obituary for 10 years since his passing in 2008. (Ballarat Courier May 10, 2008)

John Baynham, Gordon Males, Mark Bruere, John Brouwers - Telechess '82


Boris Skontra

Here is the 2010 Reserve Champion, Boris Skontra, receiving his medal from Patrick Cook. He played in the inaugural championship 50 years ago! His son, Vojka was Michael Schreenan's carer for many years before tragically passing away several years ago.

Boris Skontra & Club President Patrick Cook. Vojka (inset right)

Gary Bennewitz

Gary is a past Treasurer and member, one of the many important people who have kept the club going for its members and the Ballarat community.

Gary Bennewitz at the 2009 Ballarat Begonia.

Andy Miitel

Kevin Perrin

Kevin is the current Treasurer and a life member of the club. The article below was written by Patrick Cook in 2007, and includes a game link to one of their games.


Kevin Perrin at the 2009 Ballarat Begonia. Photo by Mathew Juszczynsk

"Mr Ballarat Chess"
by Patrick Cook, 2007

Kevin Perrin, senior partner at Prowse, Perrin and Twomey, is a successful and respected accountant in the Ballarat community.

Mr.Perrin was born in Ballarat in 1949 and received his secondary education at St. Paul's Technical College, leaving at the end of year 10. He completed year 11 at SMB and later qualified as a Certified Practising Accountant.

However, like many other successful people, he has another string to his bow: he is a highly regarded and equally successful chess player.

He learned the moves of the Royal Game from his brother at age 11 and joined the newly revived Ballarat chess club in 1966, just in time to compete in the first Ballarat Chess Club championship of the modern era. This was to be the first of an astonishing 42 successive championship tournaments as of this year (2007). "I just keep coming back because I enjoy it so much" he said. Of those 42 tournaments, Kevin has won seven championship titles, the chess club record, despite his last victory being way back in 1989! He is still a highly dangerous opponent, regularly finishing in the top two or three places in the Ballarat Championship.

Reflecting upon the highlights of his chess playing career, he mentioned playing (and losing to) the doyen of Australian chess, the late C.J.S.Purdy, at the Geelong Open chess tournament in the early 1970's, and representing Ballarat Chess Club in a simultaneous exhibition at the Hiatt-on-Collins hotel against the former World Chess champion Boris Spassky when he visited Melbourne in 1989.

When asked about his best played games, Kevin felt that two victories, over Bas van Riel and Patrick Cook, both six times Ballarat champions, were probably his best games in the Ballarat championships. "Those two games were technically very difficult", he said. He also recalls a beautiful smothered checkmate, a rare manoeuvre in chess, against the late Paul Saver at the Country Victorian chess championships, an event he has also won seven times. "Such rare moves provide a lot of the pleasure in chess."

Kevin's achievements and contributions to chess extend beyond his prowess as a player, though. His major contribution has been in his capacity as an administrator.
He became an office-bearer of the Ballarat Chess Club for the first time in 1967 when he was elected to the position of assistant secretary. Within two years he was elected secretary and served the club in that role for 27 years! Also in 1967 he was appointed assistant Director-of-Play for the lst Begonia Open Chess Tournament and has remained a pivotal organizer of this tournament ever since. The annual event has grown under his stewardship into one of the most prestigious chess tournaments on the Australian circuit, attracting the cream of the nations chess players over the past 41 years. The tournament trophy, the K.J.Perrin shield, is appropriately named after him.

In 1981, Kevin initiated the School Chess competition for the Ballarat region and was a driving force in the running of the competition for well over 15 years. "Juniors are important; they're the future of the Club" he said.

In 1984, he was one of the main organizers and Director-of-Play for the Australian Open chess championship when it was held in Ballarat, one of the rare occasions that this major event has been held outsid e capital city. The following year he was awarded the title of International Arbiter by the World Chess Federation (FIDE).

By 1988, his reputation as a knowledgeable and reliable Director-of-Play was such that he was invited by FIDE to be Chief Arbiter at the World Junior Chess
Championships held in Adelaide. This annual event was unusually strong that year, with many future stars of world chess competing.

The following year the members of Ballarat Chess Club made him a Life Member, only the second player to be so honoured.

To crown this stellar administrative career, in 2002, the Australian Chess Federation recognized Kevin's outstanding contributions to Australian chess by awarding him the Koshnitsky Medal. When asked how he felt when looking back on his administrative career, Kevin observed "I suppose the awards and recognition are fine, but it isn't why we do it, as you know! We like to play competitive chess against strong opposition and you need a wellorganized chess club for that."

In recent years, Kevin has been stepping into the background as a chess organizer and administrator, but still serves his local chess club as a very competent Treasurer and, of course, as a keen and strong player, an inspiration to new and younger members of the chess club, and a fine example of the quiet and understated contribution many people make to their community by pursuing what they love.

The following game well illustrates Kevin's strengths as a player: persistence combined with highly refined technique.

Ballarat Chess Club championship 1998 Round 5
Kevin Perrin versus Patrick Cook

Source: On The Move 1986
Kevin receives his FIDE certificate of accreditation as an International Arbiter: No.18.pdf

Bill Decker

Bill observing a game at the club