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Obituary: Richard W. O'Brien (8 iv 1944 - 5 xi 2009)

Last Edited: Wednesday December 2, 2009 1:18 AM

by FM Andrew P Smith

Sadly, I have to report that Richard O'Brien died in hospital in Sussex on 5 November 2009, aged 65. He had lived on the Sussex coast for many years.

Although a controversial character in the chess world, it shouldn't be forgotten that Richard made lots of positive contributions to the chess community. Many will remember him as the publisher of the Trends series of books on openings and Tournament Chess. He would sell these along with many other publications through his network of dealers across the world as well as at his chess stalls at weekend tournaments.

But perhaps not everyone was aware of his other chess accomplishments; he was an International Chess Arbiter, an accolade not achieved by many, and a chess tournament organiser, particularly of the Lewisham Internationals in the 1980s and 1990s, and the Accountancy Age Masters to name but two.

He was also very knowledgeable in the mechanics of the Elo Rating system and therefore was able to help many players achieve the results they required to get GM/IM norms, particularly at the Lloyds Bank Masters where he acted as an Arbiter.

He was Team Captain of the Essex county team in the 1970/80s and played for many club teams. I knew him from having been a member of Charlton Chess Club and my own club Lewisham for whom he was an excellent team captain. In that capacity, he was most definitely a hugely competitive captain who would 'play to win' at all costs.

He also represented Ireland a couple of times in matches against Wales and was a frequent traveller to Spain and other European countries to play tournaments and network with players and book dealers. Although he also dabbled in accountancy, chess was his life, love and living! A man who lived on his wits, he was a true entrepreneur.

In later years, he played for Lewes in the local Sussex League, although not for some time as his health had deteriorated over the last few years. Despite this, he still kept in contact with many of his friends from the chess community and remained interested in chess till the end.  

But, overriding all of this, on a personal level, his passing means the loss of a long-standing friend of more than 30 years. Andrew Smith

His funeral will be at 3.00pm on Monday 7 December at Eastbourne Crematorium in Sussex.

For further details of the funeral, please contact Andrew P Smith at or by telephone 07962 580349.


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