David Welch at the Gibraltar Festival in 2015 (photo John Saunders)
Dave was born in Brampton (Chesterfield), Derbyshire, on 30 October 1945. After attending Chesterfield Grammar School, where he captained the chess team, he took a degree at Cambridge University before taking up a teaching job at Liverpool in 1968. Also starting teaching the same day at the same school was Peter Purland, who like Dave was to become an equally distinguished servant of British chess over the past half century. The two spent their entire teaching careers at the same school, and often worked in tandem as arbiters and organisers over the same period of time and long into their retirement from teaching.
Dave joined Liverpool Chess Club in 1968 and eventually became its president, and organiser of the Liverpool Congress. He became involved in organising and arbiting at British Championships in 1981, later taking on roles as chief arbiter of the British (later English) Chess Federation and director/manager of congress chess. He was also chief arbiter of the 4NCL for some years. He was awarded the FIDE International Arbiter title in 1977 and the FIDE International Organiser title in 2010. He received the ECF President's Award in 2007.
I first came into regular contact with Dave at the Isle of Man and Gibraltar tournaments where he also officiated as chief arbiter for some years. His vast experience of chess organisation made him a safe pair of hands, and almost the automatic go-to man when a major congress needed someone to take charge, as happened at the Monarch Assurance Isle of Man tournament when Richard Furness passed away. Dave's firmness of resolve and stentorian voice (albeit not quite matching the molto fortissimo of his Welsh colleague Peter Purland) will remain a particular memory of these events. These schoolmasterly traits gave way to a more whimsical personality, and a wicked sense of humour, when off-duty over a pint in the bar at the end of play. One small example: when musing over the experimental one-game knock-out tournament format being proposed by Stewart Reuben for the Hastings Congress in 2004/5, Dave told me, "if it works, we will call it the Hastings System. If it doesn't work, we will call it the Reuben System."
Dave died on 9 November 2019 after suffering a stroke which left him greatly debilitated some two years ago. His is a great loss to British chess. I shall miss him greatly. RIP.
(c) 2019 John Saunders