Tuesday 16 December 2008

Bob Wade: The Father of Modern English Chess

The funeral of Bob Wade (1921-2008) was held at Eltham Crematorium on Tuesday 16 December at 10.15am. There was a very large turn out of people for this great man of chess - so much so that the stalls was soon filled and many people had to stand in the large auditorium.

I took a few photos of people who came to the funeral, and have scanned in the programme - click here

The speakers included Jon Speelman (who referred to Bob as his first and only teacher); David Anderton (who gave a warm and witty appreciation of Bob); Malena Griffiths (who spoke about Bob's enormous contribution to women's and junior chess); and Tony Gkountintas (who was a close friend and neighbour).

Amongst those present at the funeral: Murray Chandler (who travelled from New Zealand to be there), Stuart Conquest, Jovanka Houska, Michael Stean, Stewart Reuben, Malcolm Pein, William Watson, Ray Keene, Peter Wells, Jonathan Mestel, David Levy, Robert Bellin, Shaun Taulbut, Les Blackstock, Henry Mutkin, David Sedgwick, Jane Seymour, Peter and Rose-Marie Hannan, Peter Wilson, Peter Kemmis Betty, Tony Stebbings, Alan Hanreck, Bill Linton, Michael Bolan, Mario Houska, Alan Martin, Brian Smith... and many, many more. Bob's surviving brother and sister (he was one of seven children) are elderly and it was too far for them to travel.

In his appreciation, David Anderton referred to Bob as "the father of modern English chess" - and that is an excellent summary of a man who did so many things in chess. Sad though the occasion was, David's speech was peppered with wit, tailored to an audience which knew Bob well and loved him as much for his occasional moments of fatherly rage as for his (much more frequent) good humour. Looking round at familiar faces in the audience, David said: "there can be few of us who didn't feel the sharp edge of his tongue at some point" and the many chuckles in the audience confirmed the truth of this statement. As David said, "Bob was as fierce in debate as he was over the board" - but it was all geared towards the greater good of chess. David had been Bob's captain for Olympiad teams - "he was never the easiest man to tell he had been benched". But actually these little outbursts were very endearing. Bob didn't have it in him to get cross for long and within minutes he was at great pains to kiss and make up.

A very great man and completely irreplaceable. We shall all miss him. RIP

Obituary of Bob Wade (by Leonard Barden in the Guardian)

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