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John Saunders


BRITBASE - British Chess Game Archive

Player: Wilfred Henry Pratten (1908-1985)
559 games played between 1923 and 1984 • Download PGN


Biographical note on Wilfred Henry Pratten (born 10 May 1908 in Swindon, Wiltshire, died 10 July 1985, Hampshire).

Pratten was a very strong amateur player, just short of master strength, but who might very well have reached that level had he been in a position to devote more time to the game. His name may be found in the lists of British Champions as the 1924 and 1925 British Boys' Champion, following Milner-Barry in 1923 and preceding CHO'D Alexander in 1926. His origins were somewhat humbler than the aforementioned patricians (his father was listed in the 1911 census as railway boilersmith at the GWR works in Swindon) and BCM (May 1926, p227) tells us that Pratten was unable to defend his title in 1926 though still eligible as he was by then "engaged in business". But the fact that Pratten was able to win this title twice aged a month short of 16 and 17 respectively indicates that he was quite a talent. Pratten subsequently lived and worked in Oxford for a while, where Paige's booklet tells us he won the city championship and the county title three times.

Later in the 1930s Pratten settled in Hampshire, which became his home and the centre of his chess activities for the rest of his life, apart from a period spent in London during the war. He played a key part in Hampshire chess as a player and organiser, helping to set up Fareham Chess Club, and initiating the Southsea congress in the 1940s which soon hosted top international players such as Tartakower, Bogoljubow, and Rossolimo, and developed into the very strong Stevenson Memorial event which migrated to Bognor Regis in the 1950s and 1960s. He also played a key part in developing young players in Hampshire, which is probably why his protégés Roger Paige and Arthur Brameld were moved to commemorate him by collecting his games and producing a booklet. He gave chess lessons (I found an entry in the Portsmouth Evening News, 28 October 1935, in which he advertised chess instruction at 6d per lesson. He referred to himself as "champion of Portsmouth; ex-Boy Champion England")

Quite a few of the games in the file were played outside formal competitions but they help to build a picture of Pratten the chess player. He was a renowned tactician and quite capable of taking down an illustrious opponent on a good day. The fact that he was active for such a long period, from the early 1920s to the mid 1980s, also provides interest, bridging the ages between Bogoljubow and Basman (and neither of said gentlemen got the better of him).

Hampshire Telegraph, 18 June 1954: "In April, 1924, a 15-year-old member of [Portmouth Chess] Club, W. H. Pratten, achieved national recognition by winning at Hastings the British Boys' Championship. Pratten learned his chess at the club and won its championship when he was 17. In 1924 and 1925 not only did Pratten win the British Boys' Championship, but no less a person than the Hungarian chess-master, Isidor Gunsberg, reckoned Pratten to be the strongest boy player he had ever known. Mr. Pratten still plays number one board for Hampshire in county matches, and last year he sensationally defeated the international chess-master and twice British champion William Winter, in 16 moves1. Since the second world war, however, Pratten has devoted himself chiefly to organizing, and in 1951 was honoured by the International Chess Federation by being elected an international tournament controller and judge. He is best known locally these days for his work in the world-famous chess charity for Portsmouth boys founded in 1932 by Sir William Dupree." 1 unfortunately the score of this game has not survived.

File Updated

Date Notes
2019 Games played by strong Hampshire amateur player Wilfred Henry Pratten (1908-1985). Pratten was a fine player who won the British Boys' (Under 18) Championship in 1924 and 1925 and might have gone on to become a master had not the necessity to earn a living and support a family intervened. 400 of these these games were originally published in a 2004 self-published book Wilfred Henry Pratten: Doyen of Hampshire Chess by Roger Paige; the number of games has grown subsequently and this file was kindly made available to me by Arthur Brameld who collaborated with Roger Paige in collecting them. I am grateful to both Roger and Arthur.
27 May 2019 Initial upload with 532 games. I was sent this file of games for BritBase publication by Arthur Brameld who collaborated with Roger Paige to produce and publish the latter's booklet 'Wilfred Henry Pratten: Doyen of Hampshire' (self-published, 2004). The booklet contained exactly 400 games but the number of games found has since swelled to 532. I (JS) have endeavoured to edit the file in order to provide full names, precise dates and competition identifications, etc, and to amend a few errors encountered along the way. Many thanks are due to Roger and Arthur for all their hard work in compiling these games.
28 May 2019 Added an odds game won by Pratten against AR Cooper in 1925. I have made one or two small cosmetic amendments since the initial upload yesterday and it may be worth readers' while downloading the file a second time to be sure of having up-to-date textual details.
4 June 2019 Brian Denman has kindly contributed a further 12 games, making the running total 545. The new games are: 1925, vs Arthur Eric Smith, Boys' Championship preliminary section; 1935, County Match vs JC Waterman; 1939, four games from informal matches with CH Stacey (including one correspondence game); 1946, Portsmouth Championship game vs JW (Jack) Smith; 1950, correspondence game with Arthur Eric Smith; 1951, Sussex v Hampshire match vs CH Stacey; 1963, a game from a John Lewis Partnership vs Hastings CC match, vs W Arthur Winser; 1964, Hastings Pelton Cup game vs HGT Matchett; and 1964, a Sussex-Hampshire county game vs RT Buckland. Brian has also sent some amendments: the date of the 1963 county match game against RT Buckland has been amended to 11 January 1958 and now shows the teams and venue. And the dates for Wilf Pratten's games in the 1965 Stevenson Memorial tournament at Bognor Regis have been amended, with round numbers and dates given where they were previously missing. Many thanks to Brian for his contribution.
19 June 2019 Some textual notes added to Pratten-Hooper, Southsea 1947, which demonstrate that it is not a complete game score and that Black played on after move 12. Played as part of the Southsea Autumn Weekend Tournament.
3 March 2021 I've had further thoughts about the game Bruning-Pratten, BCF Boys' Championship 1925, which I now think was actually Pratten-Bruning. I've included the reasoning in the game score.
20 April 2023 Added the game Pratten 1-0 A.Hayes, Portsmouth Club Handicap 1926. Running total now 546 games.
21 November 2023 I have revamped this file, making corrections and additions. There are now 558 game entries, of which five are stubs and three are part-games. One notable correction was to the game W.Pratten 1-0 N.Hutchinson, Portsmouth Invitation 26.05.1971 (which had previously been given as N.Hutchinson 1-0 W.Pratten, Stevenson Bognor Regis for the same date).
7 May 2024 Added the game W.Pratten 0-1 W.Fairhurst, played in the County Championship Final between Hampshire and Lancashire on 19.06.1948. From the Fairhurst game collection: thanks to Alan McGowan. 559 game entries.