John Naylor 1972-2020

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Nick Ivell
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Re: John Naylor 1972-2020

Post by Nick Ivell » Wed Aug 26, 2020 10:58 am

Thanks for posting, Chris. I was interested to hear John described as a northerner!

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Re: John Naylor 1972-2020

Post by LawrenceCooper » Wed Aug 26, 2020 12:01 pm ... _jsg5u2yWM

Entry is now open to this special 'John Naylor' Memorial Tournament.

It is invite only event. But if you're:
1) From the British/Irish/Icelandic chess scene
2) Knew John Naylor
3) A super GM
4) Luis Galego
Then please email me at for more details.

Alan Walton
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Location: Oldham

Re: John Naylor 1972-2020

Post by Alan Walton » Sun Sep 06, 2020 11:28 pm

Cracking event tonight, Firouja, Giri, Svidler, most of the top English players

Great show for John

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Re: John Naylor 1972-2020

Post by LawrenceCooper » Mon Sep 07, 2020 7:48 am

John Naylor Celebration Arena final standings:

1. alireza 2003 80
2. AnishonYouTube 68
3. MannerMandje 67
4. ParttimerGM 64
5. ameetghasi100 60
6. Moose959 59
7. HansSchmidt 54
8. gmluke 53
9. Zibbitvideos 51
10. TRendle 49

Firouja, Giri, Thomas Beerdsen, N Pert, Ghasi, Svidler, Howell, McShane, Ingvar Johannesson, Rendle.

Naylor After Party Tournament Arena final standings:

1. HansSchmidt 98
2. GingerGM 80
3. alexisharakis 68

Thanks to Simon Williams and everyone else who organised/donated and played the event(s).

Matthew Turner
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Re: John Naylor 1972-2020

Post by Matthew Turner » Mon Sep 07, 2020 9:42 am

An absolutely amazing event and not really what you would expect, which is, in its own way, fitting.

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Lee Bullock
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Re: John Naylor 1972-2020

Post by Lee Bullock » Mon Sep 07, 2020 6:30 pm

Played tonight in memory of John even though I didn’t want to. But felt it a nice way to pay tribute to him. I never met the guy but out of everyone on the internet I have never met I think I was closest to John. Been too gutted to even post on this forum post.

I spoke with John many hours a day over the past 5 years. Especially the past 3/4 months as he joined my chess team the Uk chess Patzers which I’m captain of. He became very fond of this team. And the banter and fun we had was brilliant.

John said to me on many occasions Lee I love playing as a team and love the chess Patzers. Was great to see him motivated and really getting back into chess. He told me he was in such a great place lately. And we said so many times we have to meet soon. Gutted I will never get to meet him as he seemed the type of person I really like. Also we are both kings of the defaulting chess games 😆. I unfortunately beat him on that.

He always stuck up for me and defended me and spoke like he cared. Such a lovely guy. And had a great sense of humour. Made many of us in the UK Patzers Fb group chat laugh.

And what a talented player he was. He said he got a bit emotional when people said how talented he was as he felt he had wasted that talent.

I had no idea how good a player he was till I watched him closely once he joined my team. He won 12 out of 12 games for us. As Sensiblesusan. Never asked him why that name haha. He had an initial rating of 500 fide when he joined us 😆. I watched him get it up to 1900 ish before he stopped. Think he would of got to 21 or 22.

Spent many nights up with him talking about chess and life and problems etc.

Will miss him so much. Rip mate. Xx
2013/2014 and 16/17 U140 Grand Prix Winner! ;)

2015 and 2016 Chess character of the year :)

Its not a failure to lose. Its a failure when you dont try and win.

Chris Rice
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Re: John Naylor 1972-2020

Post by Chris Rice » Fri Sep 25, 2020 8:05 am

A nice funeral flower tribute yesterday to John:


and he would have been thrilled to have made The Times on September 12:


Chris Rice
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Re: John Naylor 1972-2020

Post by Chris Rice » Tue Sep 29, 2020 11:37 am

John's funeral was last Wednesday. There was a beautiful eulogy from his sister, Bridget, which includes a lot of information about John's earlier years which most people would not have known about:


John didn’t especially like eulogies at funerals. He always said that everyone who was there knew you anyway, so what was the point?

So when I was asked to write down some memories about John, I wanted to think of things that perhaps people didn’t know. Most of you here will know John from his late teenage years, or in his adult life. So I would like to talk mostly about his early years - the things which shaped John into the person he came to be. John was born in February 1974. Uncharacteristically for John, when he was born, he was in a hurry to get here and was very nearly born in the foyer of the hospital. I have a very clear memory of our Dad taking me and our brother to see John for the first time in the hospital. It felt strange. All of the books in school had a Mum, Dad, brother and sister – just like us. Now there was another one! I remember we were in the back of Dad’s old VW Fastback (no seatbelts or child seats in those days), when I turned to our brother and said, “We’ve got a brother.
His name is John. John Naylor!”. Which for some reason, we found hysterically funny and rolled about laughing.

I first saw John in a high-sided cot at the hospital. The sides were made of either glass or plastic and I could see him in there looking so tiny. When John came home, I remember being a very proud big sister. I used to put my biggest doll in his high pram and pretend that I was looking after the baby. I remember telling people to “shush”, so as not to wake the doll baby up. My friends were very impressed that I was allowed to be in charge of the little one and I didn’t ever tell them that it was only a doll.

As John grew, it became apparent that something wasn’t quite right. He didn’t seem to be developing in the usual way. He couldn’t hold his own head up or try to do things for himself. The doctors checked him over and diagnosed him as being a “cabbage”. They told our parents to take him home to die. But as we know, that didn’t happen. With a lot of love and care and attention, John grew. But he was still unable to do anything for himself.

At around the age of two, John caught meningitis. He was extremely ill and was hospitalised. In those days, parents were not allowed to stay with children in hospital and could only come in during visiting hours. Prayers were said for John here in England and over with our family in Ireland.
When our Mum went to see John in the hospital, she was expecting to find a dead baby. She was not at all prepared for what she actually did see. John had turned a corner and was getting better. But not only that – the child who only a couple of days earlier could do nothing, was trying to pull himself up in his cot! The nurses didn’t understand why Mum was crying so much, as John was getting better and would be able to go home. They didn’t know that he couldn’t move before he was poorly. For some reason, the problems that had plagued John from birth, had simply and suddenly left him.

John came home and continued to develop. He was a long way behind other children, but was now able to guess whether he meant “No” or “Yes”, and often getting it wrong! John found school hard in the early years, as he still couldn’t hold anything properly so learning to write felt enormously difficult to him. We went to a convent school at the time, and the nuns spent hours with him teaching him how to hold a pencil. I can also remember practising and practising handwriting with him at home. The day that John learned to write his name by himself was a big celebration.

John, of course, didn’t remember any of this as he was too small. But, to us, he was our miracle baby and we were very protective of him. The family moved to Rugby and John joined English Martyrs School. As I was older, I went to the girls’ school down the road. But, as his big sister, it was my job to collect him from school and walk him safely home. It’s worth saying here that John was an exceptionally beautiful little boy. He had big
blue eyes, long eyelashes and blond curly hair. He was also a very good child, who was happy to take your hand and would follow you everywhere. Of course, all of my school friends thought he was really sweet, and there was no shortage of people wanting to hold his hand on the walk back from school.

When John was young, his blood didn’t clot properly. If he cut himself, he would bleed copiously . It would take ages to stop, and could be quite frightening to witness. John soon cottoned on how to use this to his advantage. If there was something he didn’t want to do at school, he would cause himself to have a nose bleed, so that our Mum would be called to collect him and make an emergency dash to the hospital. He would simply say, “I told them I didn’t want to do that”.

John was also an altar server at English Martyrs for a number of years. I can remember one very hot summer day when he fainted from the heat at the altar and brought the candles crashing down with him like dominoes. Luckily, he didn’t cut his head open that day, or everyone present would never have forgotten it.

One Summer holiday, when John was about 7 years old, I was bored. I was an avid reader and had read everything in the house, even the cereal packets. There was just one thing that I hadn’t read – a book which had come with a compendium of games. Eventually, I gave in and read it, even though I wasn’t remotely interested in the content. I remember that the book had a black and yellow cover and was called “How to play chess in 30 minutes”. Little did I know what that would lead to.

Having worked out how to play chess, I needed a victim (I mean partner). John, being the youngest, was the obvious choice. And that was where it all started. I tired of playing chess after a very short time, but John was hooked. He played constantly, both against himself and anyone who came to the house. I can remember a certain adult visitor who was not at all impressed at being soundly trounced at chess by a little kid!

It was about that time, that we realised that John had maybe found something for which he had a real talent. He never learned to swim or ride a bike, but here was something that he COULD do. I can’t remember how we found out about Rugby Chess Club, but I do remember the first time that John went to play a game in a junior match. All of the other players had their notebooks and were carefully notating the moves of all the games. John had never seen this before and was quite taken aback, so didn’t perform at his best that day. But it didn’t put him off. John quickly got himself a notebook and learned all about chess notation. He wasn’t going to look like the new boy again.

John played in what was a very good junior team at Rugby Chess Club, eventually playing at national level and some international games also. He used to play chess over the telephone long-distance and racked up some enormous phone bills. So much so, that a padlock had to be put on the phone to keep the bills down.

John started to appear in articles in the newspaper for his success at chess. We didn’t have the internet in those days, but we had the nearest thing of its time – Teletext! For some reason, chess was a big thing on Teletext. I lost count of how often I would walk into the living room and the teletext had been “accidentally” left on the TV screen, showing John’s latest success.

John was, by then, a teenager and attending Bishop Wulstan Catholic School. His appearances in the paper and his good looks gave him a bit of a local celebrity status. When coming home from work, our Mum would regularly find girls sitting on our garden wall, hoping to catch a glimpse of Mr Wonderful.

When John left school, he never really settled to a career. He tried a number of things, such as shop work, but nothing seemed to suit him. Eventually, John got a job as a croupier in a casino. Finally, something which interested him. No getting up early in the morning and a sociable job, where everyone was having a good time. He got really good at this job, and could handle a pack of cards like any magician.

Throughout this time, John continued to play and coach chess. The parent of a boy coached by John told me the story of their 8 year-old son, who was quite shy and didn’t want to go to after school club. At that time, John was coaching chess to the children at the club. The boy’s parents told me that, after a week with John, their son was a different boy. Going to play chess after school was the highlight of his day.

He became more confident and started to enjoy himself. Their son caught the chess bug, joined the chess club and John continued to coach him and provide encouragement through the UK chess challenge. He played in John’s recent memorial tournament and won against a Grand Master. John would have been pleased and proud to see how he had come on.

John’s coaching was not confined to chess, however. He volunteered to run a poker school during the 12th birthday party for one of his friend’s sons. It was the full works, with the green baize cloth, all the proper poker chips, and John’s amazing handiwork with the cards. The session was meant to last about an hour. Three hours later, the boys were still playing and having a whale of time. A photo from that day shows the walls of the room lined with parents waiting to take their boys home, but with everyone engrossed in what had become a thrilling game. The birthday boy got to take home the prize, with John holding up his arm like a champion boxer, announcing, “We have a winner!”. Huge smiles all round.

John was a laid-back person, who made friends wherever he went. He was also notoriously always late. John could never resist that last few minutes snoozing in bed. He was also famous in the family for having 2-hour baths – which could be frustrating if anyone else wanted to use the bathroom! Everyone knows about the time when John was playing chess in Israel and had been drawn to play the great Grand Master, Victor Bologan. John was really looking forward to this opportunity. The time for the match arrived – but John didn’t. Time ticked on and the match was eventually declared forfeit as John was a no-show. It turned out that John had forgotten to change his watch to Israeli time on arrival, so thought he had plenty of
time for one of his long baths to relax ahead of the game. So, while Victor was waiting for John, John was instead enjoying a lovely long soak in the bath! He was never allowed to forget that one.

John’s persistent lateness was such that we always said that John would be late for his own funeral. Today, we wish that was true. Chess took John to tournaments all over the world and he lived in London, Rugby, Lincolnshire and, finally, Leicester. Out of all the places he lived, John seemed to
have the best time when living in cities, where there was a thriving chess community. While chess was important to him, the people he met were just as important as the game (if not more so). He was always ready to have a pint and a long chat with everyone but, as soon as he sat in front of a board, the laid-back John disappeared and he became a dangerous opponent. At the end of the game, the sociable John would re-appear. If he lost, he would always congratulate his opponent on a good game and would invariably go off for a drink with them.

Before he died, John was enjoying playing for Syston Chess Club in Leicester and also played online for UK Chess Patzers. He was happy and playing some good chess among friends. His player record shows that he won all 12 out of his last 12 Patzer games.

We have been inundated with messages from the chess community, telling us how much they are going to miss John. The same words have been repeated over and over by people who knew him. “A kind heart”, “a warm heart”, “a good heart”. How many of us would love to be remembered like this. I also heard the word “humble” a lot.

Our family would like to thank Simon Williams and his friends at the Jutes of Kent chess club for putting together a special tournament in John’s memory. John would have been amazed to see 109 people playing in his memory, including no less than 13 Grand Masters. The players ranged from top international players, to club players and kids that John had coached. He would have been even more amazed to see it reported in The Times newspaper. A truly unique event, which was fitting, as John was one of a kind.
Last edited by Chris Rice on Tue Sep 29, 2020 5:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Kevin Thurlow
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Re: John Naylor 1972-2020

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Tue Sep 29, 2020 1:00 pm

"There was a beautiful eulogy from his sister, Brigitte"


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Re: John Naylor 1972-2020

Post by LawrenceCooper » Tue Sep 29, 2020 3:29 pm

Kevin Thurlow wrote:
Tue Sep 29, 2020 1:00 pm
"There was a beautiful eulogy from his sister, Brigitte"

I'll definitely second that. Even though I knew him from the mid 80s there's lots of information there that I was unaware of.

Simon Rogers
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Re: John Naylor 1972-2020

Post by Simon Rogers » Sat Oct 31, 2020 12:10 pm

Shocked, when I first heard about his death. I got to know John, when I played one of his teammates, a number of years ago at a Congress.
I spoke to him briefly at the Blackpool Congress.
Excellent tribute from Simon Williams and Danny Gormally.
There is a very lengthy but excellent tribute on the Rugby Chess Club website with some interesting anecdotes and a picture, which was posted the end of August.
John first came to Rugby Chess Club in the mid to late 1980s.
He played for Rugby A team on Board 1.
John last played for Rugby Chess Club during the 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 seasons.

Chris Rice
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Re: John Naylor 1972-2020

Post by Chris Rice » Sat Oct 31, 2020 4:47 pm

This is the article Simon which is made even sadder by the referencing of Bob Wildig who died last month.

Chris Rice
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Re: John Naylor 1972-2020

Post by Chris Rice » Fri Nov 20, 2020 3:09 pm

I've had it confirmed today that what would have been the Major Open for the British Online Championships 2020 will get a trophy in the late John Naylor's name. An amazing gesture by the ECF and much appreciated by all his family and friends.

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