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Steve Berry

Posted: Sat Jan 05, 2019 12:57 pm
by Stewart Reuben
STEVE BERRY died very recently in St George's Hospital.
I have no further details and am currently on my way to The Maldives.
king's Head and Wimbledon Chess Club will have more information.

Re: Steve Berry

Posted: Sat Jan 05, 2019 2:01 pm
by John Foley
This is sad news for players in southwest London. Kingston players knew him to be a very strong and resourceful opponent. He was playing at a consistently high level for decades. He was Surrey Chess Champion a record 12 times and the current holder, was British senior co-champion in 2017 & helped Wimbledon win both the Surrey and Thames Valley Leagues in 2017 & 2018. He was one of the top boards for the Surrey county team. He was always well prepared whether in the openings or especially if a game went to adjournment. Steve was always ready to have a chat after a game. He showed a commitment to the game, to the art of chess, that will be sorely missed. A short tribute to Steve is on the Kingston website.

Re: Steve Berry

Posted: Sat Jan 05, 2019 2:50 pm
by Daniel Young
A very sad loss. I met Steve several times at county matches and the British - two events in which he enjoyed great success - and he was a thoroughly nice man as well as an exceptionally strong and correct player. He will be greatly missed.

Re: Steve Berry

Posted: Sat Jan 05, 2019 3:07 pm
by Kevin Thurlow
That is very sad news. Before Wimbledon, he was a stalwart for Mitcham (and I'm sure John Saunders will produce a much better tribute). I played him 7 times between 1978 (when he wiped me out) and 2002 when he sacrificed his queen to win. Happily for me the intervening games weren't all like that. He was always a tough opponent, but a very sporting one, and he always said hello when we were at the same event. Whatever the result, analysing with him afterwards was just the same. He was certainly one of the nicest people I have met at chess.

RIP Steve

Re: Steve Berry

Posted: Sat Jan 05, 2019 4:02 pm
by Angus French
Am sad and a little shocked to hear Steve has passed away. I knew him a little (from Surrey league chess, county matches and playing at Paignton). He was friendly and observant (taking an interest in other people's games, for example), had interesting and relevant things to say and a dry sense of humour.

Re: Steve Berry

Posted: Sat Jan 05, 2019 4:17 pm
by David Sedgwick
I cannot add anything to the comments of my Surrey colleagues in the four posts above, but I entirely concur with their sentiments.

Re: Steve Berry

Posted: Sat Jan 05, 2019 6:17 pm
by John Hodgson
I also share the condolences expressed above.

As my memory of Steve goes back longer than some I will briefly mention a few years in the 1970s (but I do not know the period before that).

I first played Steve in Birmingham in the 1970s. At that time he was working for B.H.Wood at the 'Chess' magazine office, and those with copies of the magazine will know he wrote the 'How Good is your Chess' articles at the time.

In the late 1970s we shared a house in North London (along with two other chess players, Paul Lamford and Dave Lynch) which made it quite an intense chess environment. In 1979 Steve left England to work for the European Space Agency in Darmstadt (on reflection, probably 1980).

Steve significantly increased his playing strength after leaving England, from the low 200s to the high 220s, which was quite an achievement for someone who was not a junior. I know he attributed this to learning to nurture small advantages from playing openings such as 1 b3 rather than his earlier 1 e4. He was rather iconoclastic when it came to chess (and in many other fields as well, for example in politics and economics) and never just accepted received wisdom without questioning it.

I certainly learnt a great deal from analysing with Steve over the years. He will be missed by many.

Re: Steve Berry

Posted: Sat Jan 05, 2019 6:46 pm
by Roger Lancaster
I'd like to add my condolences to the others expressed above - Steve was, in my experience, a thoroughly nice guy.

Re: Steve Berry

Posted: Sat Jan 05, 2019 8:42 pm
by Matt Mackenzie
How old was he?

(given that no posts have mentioned this detail thus far)

Re: Steve Berry

Posted: Sat Jan 05, 2019 8:46 pm
by Richard Bates
Matt Mackenzie wrote:
Sat Jan 05, 2019 8:42 pm
How old was he?

(given that no posts have mentioned this detail thus far)

Re: Steve Berry

Posted: Sat Jan 05, 2019 10:06 pm
by Matt Mackenzie
No age, that :(

Re: Steve Berry

Posted: Sat Jan 05, 2019 11:58 pm
by Mark Page
This is terrible news and I am totally shocked. Steve was a great friend of mine in the 80s and early 90s when we both played for Mitcham in the Surrey League, winning the title and the Cup on many occasions. He was always our board 1, except when we could cajole Peter Large to the board.

As we lived not too far away from each other in South London, we got into the habit of meeting every couple of weeks for a drink or three at the Alexandra pub next to Wimbledon Station. (Is it still there?) Steve would always have exotic wheat or craft beers if they were available (Hoegarten and Leffe were particular favourites of his in those days), while I stuck to the Young's Ordinary. Chess was a rather small part of our conversation, which ranged far and wide, though cricket (especially Yorkshire and England) was a perennial topic as was politics. He was a libertarian, and with me as a died in the wool liberal we seldom agreed, but it made for very entertaining evenings. I remember one night we were chatting outside the Alexandra prior to going our separate ways home, when some old guy came out of the pub much the worse for wear, got in his rather posh Jag or Bentley and in trying to get out of the small car park, just drove straight into the side of the pub. Luckily with no collateral damage to any chess players, or indeed non-chess players.

At this time he was sharing a house (or possibly a large flat) in Wimbledon with Dave Lynch and Julian Ward, I think. When I first got to know him I don't think he was working. Consequently, he followed his investments on the Japanese Stock Market very closely! In the late 80's (I think) he got a job as a technical writer with a small outfit somewhere in the London Bridge area, which I think he held for a number of years. He had a very wry take on the company, the owner and the job.

This was also a period when we used to play tennis against each other on the public courts in Wimbledon Park. Two less athletic people its hard to imagine, and Steve's technique was rather unorthodox. He didn't like to run around too much, and his favourite shot was a strange whipped forehand which would have looked more at home on the squash court - which is where I think it originated. Despite these slight impediments, and even though I considered myself the more natural player (self delusion, of course), I never won a single set off him. Strangely, though, I did once beat him at chess (a Mitcham 1 v Mitcham 2 encounter), where he was far superior to me. He had previously given me a right going over in a Surrey Championship game on the only other occasion we played each other.

We lost touch after I moved back to Warwickshire in 1995, but I did bump into him once at a Warwickshire - Surrey counties QF in Bicester in 2008. But then in Llandudno in 2017, where he tied for the 65+ British title, we met up again and spent several evenings eating and drinking together. It was just like old times, and he was still excellent and amusing company, with his very dry sense of humour. Then last year we were both in Radebeul at the World Seniors Team Championships, and I was really looking forward to seeing him again at this year's event in Rhodes.

RIP Steve.

Re: Steve Berry

Posted: Sun Jan 06, 2019 11:40 am
by Keith Arkell
This very sad news is hard to take in. Steve was only 67, and always seemed well and in good spirits.

Because we shared similar tastes in tournaments, I spent many many evenings simply chatting with Steve over a pint, and on each and every occasion I found his company very agreeable. He nearly always played at Paignton, and, in recent times, we also both took a shine to the delightful Vienna Open, and, as Mark mentioned, his interest in Senior Chess took him to the World Team Championships, in Radebeul. Steve had a very natural positional style, which was well suited to those kind of events, and I envisaged a long and successful future for him in the 65+team, but, tragically, it wasn't to be.

A thoroughly nice guy, Steve will be missed.

Re: Steve Berry

Posted: Sun Jan 06, 2019 2:04 pm
by John Saunders
Like Mark, I was a club colleague of Steve at Mitcham Chess Club back in the 1980s and 1990s, and I have little to add to his moving tribute beyond saying how much I too liked Steve. Obituarists will want to know that Steve came originally from Dewsbury in Yorkshire and his date of birth, gleaned from an old grading list, was 19 March 1951 (though this date and his middle initial 'H' don't tally with what appears in statutory BMD records).

Here's a short game which Steve annotated for Mitcham's club bulletin. The brief notes give a flavour of the dry sense of humour which Mark and others have alluded to. It was played for Mitcham against Richmond in the London League in 1995 (and I hope Gavin Wall, another former Mitcham club colleague, will forgive me for posting it):

Re: Steve Berry

Posted: Sun Jan 06, 2019 2:34 pm
by Paul McKeown
Sad news.