NORTH CIRCULAR CHESS LEAGUE
Dedicated to those, though no longer with us, are not forgotten
Sam Black was the North Circular Chess League’s Chairman from 1992-1995 and remained on the Committee until 1998. He had been a stalwart for Finchley Chess Club since he joined in 1963, though he had been playing chess since the 1930’s.
He was born the third son of Russian émigré parents who came to England in 1914. He had a varied career starting out as an ophthalmic optician and worked on Women’s Hour for the BBC broadcast from Alexandra Palace. He then went into Public Relations and it was for his work with the Board of Trade in organizing exhibitions that he received the MBE in 1969.
In 1988 he became this countries first Professor of Public Relations with the University of Sterling, followed by professorships from universities in Spain and China. Strangely enough both his elder brothers also became professors. He was the author of over a dozen books on public relations.
Sam had an extremely individualistic personality, he was never afraid to express his viewpoint regardless of popular opinion. He also had quite an explosive temper and was known for slamming down the telephone when sufficiently annoyed. Sam had a dry sense of humour. Despite reaching his eighties his faculties retained their sharpness and he took a keen interest in a broad selection of subjects.
He is sadly missed.
I first met Brian Edwards in 1990. I was the Essex League Secretary and he was the Secretary of Barking Chess Club. Brian was known as the scourge of the local chess establishment and before long he incurred my annoyance by sending in late results and indulging in sharp practice.
However there was much more to Brian. Although his behaviour could be considered slightly dubious, unlike other individuals he never did anything for personal gain. Brian was that rare person with total dedication to Barking chess club and his only motivation was the well being of his club and care of its members.
All clubs have problems finding people to assume responsibility and as Secretary, Brian was no exception.
Brian, besides being the club secretary took it upon himself to run several of the club teams. The fact that he financially helped subsidise Barking chess club was an open secret and he spent most of his spare time attending to club business.
Brian had a rare quality of loyalty and commitment and over the years I developed a great respect for him.
During the 1990's Brian approached the NCCL with the view to entering a couple of teams. The membership was accepted and frequently I would pick up the telephone to find Brian ringing Gary to enquire about results.
As predicted Brian became the thorn in the side of the NCCL with his unorthodox behaviour but Gary and I always maintained a liking for him and his antics caused us great amusement compared to the pomposity of other individuals.
As a woman in a sport dominated by men I especially appreciated Brian’s pleasant manner of speaking to me as an equal. Picking up the telephone to field chess enquiries can be a thankless tasks as many chess officials treat me as though I am a mere female at home with the children and domestic chores rather then a person.
Ever active in the chess world Brian developed an idea of a Summer League. His argument was that many players with a low grade were excluded from teams during the season and he decided to set up a grade restricted league. This proved successful with other clubs and thanks to Brian many players were given opportunities they otherwise would have been denied.
As a personality I never heard Brian say anything unpleasant about other people. He always owned up when he got caught bending the rules and he was unafraid of responsibility.
Brian’s lung cancer was particularly poignant as he had never smoked and had developed it due to his exposure to asbestos in earlier years.
Brian fought his cancer with tenacity and courage. The last time I saw him was in May while he was enjoying remission. He enveloped me in a bear hug and declared that he felt wonderful.
That’s how I like to remember him, a small fellow with a mischievous twinkle in his eyes, a glowing tan resulting from a recent holiday to Barbados and a love of Mercedes cars and chess.
Brian Edwards will be sadly missed by his family, Barking Chess Club and the NCCL.
Our thoughts are with his family and friends.
John died on Saturday January 26 with no known close relatives to mourn him. He had lived alone in a small first floor flat at Chase Side, Enfield for many years. It did not seem to trouble him at all. He appeared to those who knew him to be happy on his own. He had seldom volunteered information about himself, and the recollections of those who had been told a little about his early life are no longer good.
He had been employed as a draughtsman at Standard Telephone and Cables in Southgate, retiring from there well over twenty years ago.
John is known to his friends as a keen chess player. He confided that as a youth he had played in the London Junior Championships, and as an adult he was very active in chess playing circles in North London. He represented his own firm, Standard Telephones, Southgate Chess Club, and Enfield Chess Club in the Barnet League. In 1957 he was one of a small group who met to discuss setting up the North Circular Chess League. The minute books of the League record him playing a few days later in the first ever team fixture. The League is still running successfully, and a copy of this tribute will be placed in its records. In later years he travelled by ‘bus regularly from Enfield to Waltham Abbey to play for Powdermill Chess Club in Middlesex and in Essex, sometimes late into the evening.
Some two years ago he was knocked down by a car near his home, suffering severe fractures of both legs. Initially cheerful and philosophical about his bad luck, the long convalescence, and confinement to hospital beds in Chase Farm, North Middlesex and St Anne’s, Tottenham, caused a slow but steady decline in his faculties, and finally his health. He died peacefully a few days after his ninety- first birthday.
Many local chess players remember him. He was tallish, with bushy eyebrows over humorous eyes. Becoming a little deaf, and sometimes a little forgetful, his manner gave a hint of the authority he exercised in his prime. Well spoken, with an even temper the more marked for occasional lapses when he felt his time was being wasted, the word that everyone used in relation to him was "a gentleman."
Jeff, together with Ted Kirby, was one of the founding fathers of the League. When their chess club was refused entry into the Barnet League they decided to organise their. own The rest is history.
Probably his greatest accomplishment was almost single handedly editing/writing/producing a weekly club bulletin called Chess Chat for a number of years. I am not talking about a single sheet effort, Chess Chat was much more impressive. Jeff also produced a league magazine called strangely enough The League; which for six editions before a lack of information from the then League Secretary caused its early demise.
By a strange coincidence both Jeff's first and last games in the League involved the same clubs, though the name of one had changed and Jeff changed sides. On 29 October 1957 Wood Green defeated N.L.I 6-0, Jeff played on board 2 and lost to A.G.Whillock. Forty-five years later Wood Green lost to Edmonton (N.L.I by another name). Jeff, playing this time for Wood Green on board 5, again unfortunately finished second in his game, this time against Bill Porter. Over the years he played for a number of clubs including N.L.I, Finchley, Southgate and Wood Green.
I will remember Jeff as a gentleman who gave me a lot of help when I started to put the history of the NCCL together.
Tony joined Chingford Chess Club soon after it was founded and was a stalwart for over 50 years, holding numerous positions and ending up as President. Without his cheerful enthusiasm the club would never have survived till now. He was also Treasurer of the NCCL from 1995-2005 and involved with chess for the local scouts/cubs. Despite declining health in the last few years he remained mentally sharp and was playing chess a week before he died peacefully in his sleep on 26 August.
Outside of chess Tony spent much of his life working on the technical side of television for Thorn Electrical and in retirement was involved with the TV museum at Alexandra Palace. He is survived by his widow Margaret.