Anne Hilda Gammans 1904-1988
As with most articles in this section of our website we are indebted to Sussex chess historian Brian Denman who writes….
“When one thinks of Miss Gammans, one invariably connects Miss Renwick, her housekeeper, with her. Both were chess players and were generally seen together at chess matches (at least in my time). I can remember as a 13 year old junior, who was very much at the stage of learning the game, playing in a match at Eastbourne in 1961 and coming across these two very kind ladies for the first time. However, Miss Gammans, herself, first seems to have appeared in Sussex chess just before the end of World War II. She was living at Shoreham and played a part in a new Shoreham CC in 1944. This club came to an end in 1951 and subsequently she became a member of a new Southwick CC. This club also disbanded (somewhere about 1956) and this time Miss Gammans named a new club Downsway after the road in which she lived in Shoreham. She probably offered the facilities of her own home for all three clubs and I can remember playing for Downsway at her home. The Downsway CC was a collection of friends and both George Self and Norman Fishlock-Lomax (who ran the annual Bognor Congress) turned out for the club. In later years when the Brighton CC played in the National Chess Club Championship, Miss Gammans offered the use of her home for at least two telephone matches.
The Downsway CC came to an end in 1963, but Miss Gammans and Miss Renwick were almost certainly members of both the Brighton and Regency clubs at that time. I have written about the Regency CC in my book – it was a very sociable club which for many years played evenings above a small cafe in Cranbourne Street near the Clock Tower. These two motherly ladies loved to encourage juniors and it was really nice to have them around. I believe that it was in the early 1970s that Miss Gammans ran a Sussex Girls team. You will know that they also joined the Worthing CC and I believe that David (David Graham – SJC chess coach) – has played against Miss Gammans. Neither lady was what one might call a very strong player, but they could hold their own in club competitions.
For many years the two ladies came to watch chess, but I remember hearing in 1981 that they might no longer be able to look after themselves. Miss Renwick died first in May 1986. She was known as Pat, but her Christian names were Jeannie Paterson. She had been born on 10th October 1893. Miss Gammans brother, Charlie, passed away in November 1986 – he had been born on 1.7.1908. The Sussex secretary, Paul Watson, visited Miss Gammans in a Shoreham home not long before she died and he commented that sadly she seemed to have lost all interest in chess. She died in January 1988, her date of birth being 1.3.1904. For me, however, I do not think that Sussex chess would have been the same without meeting these ladies.
One final note – according to information supplied to me by Paul Watson, when he gave up the Sussex Ladies’ Championship trophy (I believe that it was melted down), Miss Gammans won the competition in 1948, 1950, 1954-57, 1961 and 1963. Miss Renwick won the event in 1958 and was first equal in 1953 and 1959. The Worthing Gazette of 3.11.1965 refers to Miss Gammans as the holder of the Sussex Ladies’ Championship. Possibly that was an error or it might have been that Miss Gammans won the competition one more time, but her name was not inscribed on the cup.”
The Anne Gammans Cup – This is now in the care of Sussex Junior Chess, and is awarded to the best performing Sussex girl (U18) at the Weald Open Congress held in July each year since 2006.
The Gammans-Renwick Cup – This is now in the care of Sussex Junior Chess, and is awarded to the best performing Sussex Girls School team awarded at the annual Sussex Closed Girls’ Championships in December.
The inscription on the cup reads:
“Sussex Chess Association
Miss Gammans and Miss Renwick
for the Annual Girls’ Team Championship”