Pub plays host to international chess contest: In Sticklepath, Devon, locals lay down the law on world championships. William Hartston reports

ENGLAND has won the World Chess Championship. Not the official International Chess Federation's version of the title, nor even the so-called Times World Championship, shortly to be contested by Nigel Short and Garry Kasparov, but the Devonshire Inn World Chess Championship, the only title now recognised in Sticklepath, Devon.

'We decided to run our own world championship, when Mr Short and comrade Kasparov failed to respond to our offer to stage their encounter,' Colonel Walter Polhill, president of the Devonshire Inn Chess Club, said. The committee had offered a prize of pounds 150 as well as accommodation for the players. 'We felt slighted when they accepted a rival bid of pounds 1.7m,' he said. 'We felt that our experience of having already organised a major international between England and France would have given us the edge.'

He was referring to last month's match between the Devonshire and the Lion Rouge (formerly the Red Lion) in Exbourne which had ended with both sides claiming victory.

England and France began as favourites, despite challenges from teams representing Poland (The Ring of Bells, Chagford) and Luxembourg (The Tors, Belstone). The Ukraine (Seven Stars, Winkleigh) was forced to withdraw and the Italians (Tallyho, Hatherleigh) stayed at home when rain disrupted their travel plans.

The results have yet to be finalised as Col Polhill, the scorer, had to leave early. The other organisers, however, insist England took the gold medals with 12 points, followed by France with 10.

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