Bill Clarke recalls Bryan Holland who sadly died a few weeks ago (July 2021)
I first met Bryan in 1964 when I joined the Shropshire County Council Architects Department. He became a colleague and a good friend. In 1971 I suddenly became interested in chess due to all the publicity given to the Bobby Fischer against Boris Spassky in the World Championship match. Like many others at that time I wanted to learn to play the game, I was in my mid 30s and had no idea how to begin. I approached Bryan for advice as he had mentioned he had, “played a bit in his younger days.” He looked at me through his small round glasses, grinned and then said, “I wouldn’t do that if I was you, it’s a way to madness.” This was typical of his wry sense of humour. I ignored that and over the next few years he became my chess teacher. It was soon clear he had a good knowledge of the game and was in fact better than someone who had “played a bit.” We also used to play a sort of postal chess when we would exchange moves in the office. I was also beginning to buy chess books based on advice from Bryan. Eventually in 1977 I took the plunge and joined Shrewsbury Chess Club for a season. I tried to persuade Bryan to join me but he refused saying, “I don’t want all that pain again!” Around the same time Joy Mukherjee was also expressing an interest in playing, so we occasionally would have sessions at my house with both Bryan and Joy. In the end I had the idea of forming the NALGO club at Shire Hall during the early months of 1978, the principal reason was to get Bryan and Joy involved in a club and thankfully they both came along. We entered a team in the Shropshire league division 3 later that year and both Bryan and Joy were in our team. Both men were excellent players and our team did well.
Bryan was always a very calm, controlled man and it showed in his chess. In the following years during the 1980s he became even more involved, joining me on the County Chess Committee. I was running the County Juniors and Bryan became the County Grading Officer, producing immaculate handwritten sheets in his copperplate handwriting. For a period he also wrote the weekly Shrewsbury Chronicle Chess column.
Apart from the chess he was a very unusual character in that he was not interested in the slightest in modern technology. He was the only man I ever knew who all his life never owned a car, a TV, mobile phone or a computer. On the other hand he was the most well-read person I ever met. He would spend hours listening to classical music on the radio and was an incredibly good piano player. Perhaps he got his priorities right compared with the rest of us. I was proud to be his best man at his second marriage in the year 2000 and will always miss him.
Shropshire Star 05/01/21
Tributes have flooded in to the “father of Shropshire chess,” veteran player and multiple county champion David Everington, who has died.
Everington joined Shrewsbury chess club aged 16 in September 1963, and was the county champion on nine occasions, including for six consecutive years in the 1970s. As captain of the club’s A team, he led them to league titles in 2004 and 2011 and four Cox Trophy knockout competition successes. At the time of his death he was the club president and also the reigning club champion.
Club secretary Mark Smith said: “David was at the very heart of Shrewsbury chess club for many years. He had been seriously ill for quite some time and his non-participation in the recent online competitions was due, not to a dislike of online chess, but to the powerful drugs that he had to take.
“I’m sure lots of players have memories of David’s chess playing prowess as he was a strong player. I’m equally sure that still more have fond memories of David the man, who was unfailingly courteous and kind with an excellent sense of humour. We are going to miss him in Shrewsbury and our thoughts are with his family.”
Shropshire Chess Association spokesman Toby Neal said: “David was truly the father of Shropshire chess, his long playing career making him a bridge to the county’s big names of past eras, and with a unique knowledge of the game’s history in Shropshire.
“He had immense passion and enthusiasm, and was renowned for his swashbuckling style, typically sacrificing a pawn or two in the opening. He would love it if you played something a bit offbeat against him, and in the post-match analysis, which win or lose was always conducted in the atmosphere of friendship and great good humour which was trademark David, he would say something like ‘last time I saw that played was in Tal’s match against so-and-so in 1968!’”
And former county champion Carl Portman said: “David Everington was an inspiration, mentor and even a father figure in my youth. I looked up to him more than any other chess player. He influenced me in so many ways. I never heard a bad word said against the man in 40 years.”
David’s colleagues at Shrewsbury Chess Club share their appreciation and reflections here.
Dr Jeff Cox
Shropshire Star 08/01/2019
The Shropshire Chess Congress was tinged with sadness following an announcement at the start of play that the event’s founding father, Jeff Cox, died over the Christmas period.
As a result his son John, an International Master, pulled out of the competition.
Dr Jeff Cox, from Kynnersley, near Telford, was a leading figure in the local game who had organised the first congress in the early 1970s.
Veteran Shrewsbury player David Everington recalled: “He must have arrived in the county some time around 1970 – I think he taught physics at Wolverhampton Polytechnic – and quickly took on the secretaryship of Shrewsbury Chess Club, and quite soon afterwards of the county chess association as well.
“He had some huge achievements, including creating this tournament. I can remember that in 1975 there was a problem with the British lightning chess championship somewhere in the north of England, in which the organisers had to pull out, and he heard about it and picked it up and held it here, at Madeley Court in Shropshire.
“Under Jeff’s stewardship of the county association the league expanded very quickly, from one division probably into three, possibly four – I’d have to check on that.
“He also created the summer knockout competition – playing for the Cox Trophy.”
Shropshire Star 24/10/2018
Jim Samworth, who was a major force on the Shropshire chess scene in the 1960s and 1970s, has died aged 102 at a nursing home in Church Stretton.
He played for both Shrewsbury and the county team, and later for Church Stretton. David Everington, a multiple county champion for whom Mr Samworth was a mentor in his young playing days at Shrewsbury, said: “Jim was one of the players in Shropshire’s historic win against Worcestershire in 1969 when his win against G Elwell contributed to our first county-team win since 1916.
“He was a member of the Church Stretton Club after retiring to a bungalow at Little Stretton. “Jim didn’t play much outside the Shropshire league and county fixtures but was a high-class postal player and had an encyclopaedic knowledge of all aspects of the game, including its centuries-old history. “He kept a rather splendid Bentley in which he sometimes transported the Shrewsbury team to away fixtures. “In the early 1960s I was a junior player at the former Priory Boys’ school, and I remember with gratitude how much time he gave as a coach and mentor, and also the memorable piece of tongue-in-cheek advice: ‘Never resign a postal game as your opponents will occasionally die!’ “Outside of chess Jim was a civil servant with HM Customs and Excise and had previously served with the Royal Engineers in India and he was a member and supporter of the Royal British Legion.”
Shropshire Star 26/06/2018
Shropshire chess has suffered another blow with the death of the Telford veteran Windsor Peck at the age of 80.
Peck was one of those middle-grade players who are the lifeblood of many a club and his loss will be keenly felt. Although in recent years his grading had fallen below 120 – currently it was 114 – he had in the past been graded over 140, evidence of an experience and innate ability which made him a tricky opponent.
The funeral is on Wednesday, July 4, at noon at St Mary’s RC Church in Madeley.
Born and brought up in the Falkland Islands, Windsor came to England in 1958 to study engineering at Loughborough. In 1960 he met Rosa, who was teaching in a local girls’ convent school, and they wed in 1962. Rosa remembers that Windsor was playing chess even back then.
They had two sons and four grandchildren.
The pair came to Madeley in 1994, but some Shropshire players had already come across him. Keith Tabner recalls playing him in a 1983 Shropshire v Worcestershire match. He also used to play for Halesowen.
Shropshire Star 17/04/2018
Shropshire’s chess community is in shock after news of the death of Colin Roberts who has been at the heart of the game locally for many years.
Roberts, who played on board two for Wellington and was among the county’s leading players, was a former general secretary and league controller of Shropshire Chess Association, and a former county champion.
Colin’s older brother Keith said: “It has been a difficult time for everyone because of the speed of his deterioration but thankfully we were all together at the end which has been a great comfort. I wanted to share a message he sent while he was in hospital, which showed his sense of humour did not leave him – ‘I’ve got a great excuse for my grades dropping.’ I challenged him with: ‘Nah, you are just getting worse with all these youngsters up and coming.’ His riposte to that was: ‘We’re all getting old together, the trouble is the retired ones have got more time to prepare and, as you say, we’ve got a couple of good younger players.'”
Wellington captain Toby Neal said: “Everybody has been devastated by the news and our thoughts are with his wife Mandy – who often used to accompany Colin to matches – and the family. Colin was of no age at all and was very popular on the chess scene with a great sense of humour, taking his chess seriously, but not too seriously, if you see what I mean. He was his usual cheerful self when he last played for us at the end of February but then cried off March fixtures with what was thought to be an ear infection. In hospital the diagnosis was much less benign but Colin was talking of playing on the internet, and then last week came the terrible news that he was back home with not long to live.”
Roberts had first started playing as a junior with the old Shifnal club and won the county individual championship 10 years later. Living in Hadley, he moved from the old Shifnal & Telford club to play for Wellington, being a key player in the 2014 season in which Wellington came within a whisker of winning the league title.
This week’s Wellington A v Ludlow A match has been called off as a mark of respect.
Shropshire Star 17/04/2018
The funeral of Colin Roberts has now been finalised. It is on Monday, May 14, at 1.30pm at Telford Crematorium followed by refreshments at the Sir John Bayley Club, Wellington. Dress code is black and white with a touch of red. Family flowers only. Donations to the Severn Hospice at home team.
Tribute to Warren Lewis – Newport Chess Club
Newport Chess club announces the sad death of Warren Lewis who recently returned to play for Newport after an absence of over 40 years when he played for Shropshire alongside veteran David Everington of Shrewsbury Chess Club and Mike Moore of Newport. Mike remembers Warren both as a star player in a dominant Newport side and as a mentor.
Warren was a very popular person and an incredibly exciting player as he always seemed to sack at least one piece per game. He will be sadly missed. Warren managed to play several games last season in the Shropshire League for both the A and B teams and was starting to enjoy his games again prior to his illness.
Warren died in hospital on Friday 2nd June with his family around him.
Danny Griffiths 06/06/2017
Funeral service at Edgmond Church on Tuesday, 20th June at 1.30pm
Followed by Interment at Great Bolas Church
Wake at the Sutherland Arms, Tibberton
I expect only close friends and relatives will go to the interment while others will go to the Sutherland Arms.
Tribute to Alan Bliss – Shrewsbury Chess Club
We at Shrewsbury Chess Club would like to say a few words about Alan Bliss who, for a few years, was our president.
I knew him over a period of about 25 years. Not only was he a very good chess player but he was also committed to the club which he demonstrated by serving both as secretary and as president.
On a personal level Alan had a quiet, thoughtful demeanour. I never saw him lose his composure. His actions always seemed reasonable and it was obvious to everyone that he was both astute and clever.
Away from the club I knew little about him. He was born in Australia (I remember trying to place his accent when I first met him – MS). I met his wife once and on one occasion visited his home. He worked in power distribution as an electrical engineer.
I would also like to mention an attribute which Alan had which I think we should all practice more – that is the art of apology! Alan had this quality in abundance. A personal example; some years ago we had a mildly heated discussion and Alan accused me of not knowing what I was talking about -nothing new there! Two days later I received a handwritten letter from Alan apologising profusely for his outburst. This is a measure of the man -thoughtful and polite, as well as a lesson for us all .A good legacy for Alan to be remembered by.
May he rest in peace. Thank you.
Fred Harris – 06/11/2016
Off my own bat and with my secretarial hat on I would also like to give thanks for all Alan did for the club over the years. On a personal level he was terrifically kind to me when I first joined the club more years ago than I care to remember. I shall also remember our many battles in the Caro Kann, Alan’s favourite opening. He would never give an inch!
Mark Smith 06/11/2016
Shropshire Star 27/09/2016
Wellington Chess Club is mourning the loss of club captain Derrick Powell, the long-time stalwart of the club.
Powell, who had fought a long battle with multiple sclerosis, was admitted to hospital with a chest infection and died on Friday.
Clubmate Toby Neal said: “Derrick’s passing is an incalculable loss to the club. He was the rock on which everything was built. There cannot be a chess club in Shropshire so closely associated with one man. He was Wellington’s beating heart for so many years – at least since the 1980s. Our thoughts go out to his wife Sheila, who, when Derrick’s mobility problems became more acute, would drive him to the club and to away matches. “Without him, things at the club will never be the same.”
Tribute to Derrick Powell – Wellington Chess Club
Hell’s teeth! When you heard Derrick muttering that, you knew you’d got him. Two hours later, you’d still be playing.
Difficult to beat, Derrick. We are talking about social chess. With the clocks, it was different. They were his great enemy.
We played innumerable games, and whenever you played Derrick you knew you were in for a long evening. In the days when Wellington’s venue was the Wrekin Arts Centre, we had the key to lock up at night, and it was not uncommon for us still to be playing at 1am.
He had his little quirks that you got used to, which contributed to those long evenings. If you beat him, he’d concede, and then say: “Let’s look at that again.” He would then rewind the pieces to that point where his position started to go downhill, and try another defence. So in the course of one game you would have to beat him several times.
The other quirk was that he would make a move after long, considered thought. As you sat digesting it, a hand might reach out and move the piece back. “Let’s have a think about that,” he would say. After another think he would perhaps make the same move anyway. Or maybe make another, better, move. Difficult to beat, Derrick.
And then there was his response to e4. Always, always, always, the French Defence. In all the years I knew him he never, ever, played anything else. If he had, it would have been the talk of the club – Derrick didn’t play the French! But he always did.
He was the beating heart of Wellington Chess Club ever since I joined in the 1980s. He was the rock on which everything was built. There cannot be a club in Shropshire more associated with just one person. Grading-wise, he was in the 100 to 120 range, and it puzzled me that his grading was not higher when I found him such a tricky opponent. Those darned clocks were a great part of the reason.
In his final years multiple scerosis made things increasingly difficult for him, initially with a bit of clumsiness moving pieces, later needing help when the action was at the far end of the board, such as queening a pawn. That did not stop him and he kept turning out.
More seriously, it became problematic getting to the board to play. He had an electric wheelchair thing. Ultimately his wife Sheila had to drive him everywhere and he would lift himself out onto the wheelchair using a rope. I still feel guilty about the night I asked him to fill in for the A team in a match against Oswestry. True, I didn’t say it was home. But I didn’t say it was away, either.
Finally the difficulties became insuperable in getting into the car, into the venue, back into the car, and back into their home. Yet h e was still planning to play this season. If it was possible, he would make it possible. He loved his chess that much.
Derrick went into hospital with a chest infection. It was touch and go but, Derrick being Derrick, he wasn’t beaten yet. However, it proved to be one position he couldn’t get out of.
His flag fell on Friday, 23rd September 2016. – Toby Neal
The funeral of Wellington stalwart Derrick Powell is as Telford crematorium at noon on Thursday, October 13
Tribute to Alan Wright – Ludlow Chess Club
I am writing to inform you that my father-in-law, Alan Wright, sadly passed away returning from Ludlow’s match at Oswestry on Monday evening. He was 88 and passed away peacefully in the back of the car while travelling back to Ludlow with Richard Croot, Ludlow’s secretary, among others. We are grateful to Richard Croot for the attempts that he made to resuscitate Alan and for the care that was shown to him in his final moments. Although Ludlow lost 4-1 Alan was delighted that he won his final match.
He got tremendous pleasure from playing chess – he was also a member of Birmingham Chess Club – and enjoyed the companionship. I have spoken to Richard Croot to thank him for his efforts in what was a traumatic evening for him. I will also let Richard know of Alan’s funeral arrangements when we know them. – Paul Bolton 22/01/2015
Club secretary Richard Croot said: “He regularly attended the club and played in the Birmingham leagues too. These words from Peter Hallett of Ludlow chess club express the sentiment of club members: ‘It was always a pleasure to accept an invitation to a game from Alan, despite the fact that I never expected to win, and never did, except on one notable occasion when he could easily have won had he so wished.
“The term ‘gentleman’ certainly seems the most appropriate one to apply in this case. I was never made to feel that I was an unworthy opponent and, while I no longer attend the club, I am sure that he will be sadly missed at all levels.”
And Paul Munday said: “Alan was a valued member of the club for some 15 years, always ready to play if needed and also provide transport to matches. He was a true gentleman and sportsman who took a keen interest in the running of the club, holding the office of treasurer. He was held in high regard by all who knew him and we will much miss his presence at the club. He was also an active member of Birmingham chess club, playing for them over many years.”
Paul Munday and the Ludlow team have decided that they will withdraw from Division 1 for the remainder of the season as a mark of respect.
Shropshire Star 27/05/2014
Shropshire chess is mourning the passing of veteran John Tunks, a tough competitor on the playing scene for many years.
Paying tribute, club colleague Eugene Raby said: “I have the sad job of informing Shropshire chess that John Tunks passed away last Tuesday night at the Shrewsbury hospital.
“John Tunks would himself like to be remembered for his encouragement and support to young players throughout his chess-playing years. John first started playing chess seriously in the early 1960s but was given his first showing with Shropshire when he moved into the area in the early 1970s when he helped form the Sutton Hill chess club. This club quickly grew and won the league at their first attempt.”
“John then joined GKN Sankey’s which within two seasons became very successful, producing many strong youngsters. John contributed greatly. Then in the early 1980s Sankey’s needed a new venue and moved to the famous Coddon club which went on to become one of Shropshire’s most successful until the club’s closure in 2011 when they relocated to the Lion at Priorslee.
“John continued to enjoy success even at his later years, but had to endure a bypass operation in his mid-sixties and through grit and determination recovered well to play some of his best chess.
“One thing anyone knew when they sat down to play John Tunks is they were in for a tough game. Sadly for John during his last few weeks his health suffered and he passed away quietly at hospital.
“I am sure everyone who knew John will offer his family their deepest thoughts and respect.”
Eugene Raby 21/05/2014
Joyce, John’s wife, would welcome anyone who knew John who would wish to attend his funeral. It is to be held at the Telford Crematorium (Woodhouse Lane, Redhill,Telford. TF2 9NJ) at 11am Friday 6th June 2014.
Tribute to former county president Iain Wilson
I very sadly have to report that Iain Wilson passed away earlier this afternoon at the Severn Hospice in Telford.
As you may know, he had been suffering from cancer for some time, and had been admitted to the Hospice at the weekend. He had been heavily sedated and died peacefully in the presence of his sister and one of his brothers. He was unmarried and had no children.
Iain was a member of Telford Chess Club, and then Shifnal & Telford, for close on 30 years, and played a major part in the club’s continued existence. He was captain of the Shropshire League A team and Chairman of the club for many years, and latterly also Treasurer.
He was an invaluable supporter of the Shropshire Chess Association, serving at various times and for many years as County 1st Team Captain, League Controller, General Secretary and President, usually at times when no-one else would come forward to fulfil these roles. The Association owes him an enormous debt of gratitude for keeping these roles going, efficiently and without fuss, through difficult times.
He was a pretty strong player, being graded 149 in the July 2012 list, having been up to, I think, 156 a year or two back. He regularly played the English as white, and was fond of the O’Kelly variation of the Sicilian as black. I will miss his devilish chuckle when finding the winning move in friendly games.
He was a good friend to me and to most people in the Club and Association. He will be sadly missed.
Richard Thompson 10/10/2012
Iain’s funeral will be held on Monday week, 22nd October at 2.00pm at the Telford Crematorium, just off the A5 at Red Hill. There will be refreshments afterwards at the Cock at Wellington. Please can we give Iain a good send-off. I’m sure he would want it.
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