R.I.P. Richard O'Brien (1944-2009)

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John Saunders
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R.I.P. Richard O'Brien (1944-2009)

Post by John Saunders » Wed Dec 02, 2009 1:17 am

Andrew Smith emailed me this evening to tell me the very sad news that Richard O'Brien died on 5 November, aged 65.

He was of course a well-known player, arbiter, organiser and publisher in the chess world, previously based in Essex and latterly in Sussex for some years. Andrew was a good friend of Richard's and he kindly sent me an obituary which I have published on the BCM website...

http://www.bcmchess.co.uk/news/obitobrienrw.html

The obituary also provides details of funeral arrangements which I reproduce here...
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 apstubs@aol.com or by telephone 07962 580349.
Personal Twitter @johnchess / Personal Website http://www.saund.co.uk / Britbase http://www.britbase.co.uk

Kevin Thurlow
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Re: R.I.P. Richard O'Brien (1944-2009)

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Wed Dec 02, 2009 8:12 am

He was certainly "controversial" at times, but he was a character, and actually did things, so there were a lot of positives. Sad news.
"Kevin was the arbiter and was very patient. " Nick Grey

John Upham
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Re: R.I.P. Richard O'Brien (1944-2009)

Post by John Upham » Wed Dec 02, 2009 8:38 am

Here is a picture of RW O'Brien from the CentYMCA photo album :

http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/photo ... =665497194

J.

Paul McKeown
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Re: R.I.P. Richard O'Brien (1944-2009)

Post by Paul McKeown » Wed Dec 02, 2009 2:11 pm

John Upham wrote:Here is a picture of RW O'Brien from the CentYMCA photo album :

http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/photo ... =665497194

J.
Thanks for that John, but could I make a small request?

Why don't you publish the photo here, for the Luddites that aren't Facebooked?

P.

John Upham
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Re: R.I.P. Richard O'Brien (1944-2009)

Post by John Upham » Wed Dec 02, 2009 2:38 pm

As per PMs request :
13841_195998887194_665497194_3967911_6723494_n.jpg
23rd July 1981, National Film Theatre, London. Attempt on World Blitz Chess marathon record. We started on Friday evening...
13841_195998887194_665497194_3967911_6723494_n.jpg (25.93 KiB) Viewed 5390 times
Not being FB, the tags are now missing. Several prizes for those who can identify the persons... :D

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Adam Raoof
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Re: R.I.P. Richard O'Brien (1944-2009)

Post by Adam Raoof » Wed Dec 02, 2009 2:49 pm

When I first joined Lewisham Chess Club it was Richard who gave me my first introduction to chess organisation, asking me to help him out at the British Championship typing out game scores. I went to several of Richard's events such as the Lewisham Internationals as a spectator and thought - 'I can do that!' Richard never hesitated to help me with advice, or entrust me with responsibilities, and always paid a fair wage. I never looked back!

andrew martin

Re: R.I.P. Richard O'Brien (1944-2009)

Post by andrew martin » Wed Dec 02, 2009 4:17 pm

I am very sorry to hear that as I was friends with Richard for a long time.

His last will and testament must undoubtedly reveal that he has left his secret stash of 500,000 unread 'Trends Booklets' to me as the editor of that notorious series. We will see.

Richard was a colourful character and the chess world is much poorer without him.

Andrew

Simon Brown
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Re: R.I.P. Richard O'Brien (1944-2009)

Post by Simon Brown » Wed Dec 02, 2009 8:47 pm

Very sad news. Controversial, yes, and never afraid to give and defend his opinions, but if you were in the "friend" camp, very generous and very amusing. Larger than life, in every way.

Let's not forget he was no mean player either. I - and chess - will miss him.

Simon

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Re: R.I.P. Richard O'Brien (1944-2009)

Post by Simon Brown » Wed Dec 02, 2009 8:48 pm

John - I guess I am barred?

Simon

andrew martin

Re: R.I.P. Richard O'Brien (1944-2009)

Post by andrew martin » Thu Dec 03, 2009 12:28 am

The double mixed grill or ' two chicken curries, no rice ' orders may well have finished him off.

I remember a trip to Cambridge where he represented London Central YMCA in the annual epic encounter and afterwards we would go for a meal. It was not a coincidence that on one occasion we all went to a restaurant which advertised ' The largest curries in Cambridge. All you can eat and more'.

Imagine the waiter's consternation when Richard ordered TWO chicken curries, but without any rice of course. About half an hour later several waiters wheeled in a trolley piled high with dishes and we were all starving by then. Just as we were about to claim our order the waiter held up his hand to inform us that this was only for Richard. Needless to say he wolfed the lot '; possibly 3/4 whole chickens at a sitting.

Larger than life itself.

andrew martin

Re: R.I.P. Richard O'Brien (1944-2009)

Post by andrew martin » Fri Dec 04, 2009 12:38 am

Richard's middle name was Wilfred, which he obviously disliked. Cue Jim Plaskett who would therefore call him 'Wilfie' at every opportunity ( cruelly rhyming with 'mixed grill' ) , which made O Brien mad. In time this was corrected to the nickname of ' White Dwarf Wilf' , for reasons best kept strictly confidential.

Anyone who knows Plaskett understands that he is very tactile and you never quite know when and where he is going to touch you. I have nearly killled him on occasions.

Anyway, I have fond memories of Plaskett sidling up to O Brien at Hastings and touching him where no man had previously gone before. The world high jump record was in danger at that point and virtually the whole room was in stitches. I have never seen a large man move so fast.

It's Brighton 1980 and there are maybe 10 chessplayers dossing down in a rented flat, living cheap for the duration of the British. I was there and once again Jim Plaskett and RWOBrien are the main players. Washing up was out of the question. Plates and saucers were used,reused and I have fond memories of AP Taglione simply throwing a plate of out the window when it became too dirty too eat off rather than wash it up.

At that stage I was unemployed and my mother kindly baked me a large cake and gave me a whole roasted chicken to help out with feeding the 5000. Imagine the horror on returning from the round only to find O'Brien had eaten not only the chicken in everyone's absence, but the cake too! He'd washed it down with half a bottle of rum and was now lying asleep on the sofa with his shirt unbuttoned to the waist and his flies undone. A most unusual and revolting sight!


Manna from heaven for Plaskett who then proceeded to drape all the bones from the chicken carcass and what remained of the crumbs of the cake all over O Brien's trousers. At least 10 spectators were beside themselves with laughter. Proceedings were tragically curtailed when O Brien woke up just as Plaskett was pouring a saucer full of crumbs all over his belly. Now the boot was on the other foot as Plaskett was pursued up and down the house by a furious Richard , who evidently could move much faster than his frame would suggest.

He was a most unusual man.

Kevin Thurlow
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Re: R.I.P. Richard O'Brien (1944-2009)

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Fri Dec 04, 2009 8:11 am

"Richard's middle name was Wilfred..." (etc.)

Brilliant - more obituaries should be like this, focusing on happy memories... (although I guess you are still unhappy about the chicken).
"Kevin was the arbiter and was very patient. " Nick Grey

andrew martin

Re: R.I.P. Richard O'Brien (1944-2009)

Post by andrew martin » Fri Dec 04, 2009 9:40 am

There are many tales to be told about Richard and to do so with ALL the facts put down would fill a book. If I had to sum him up briefly, which is very difficult to do for such a complex man, I would say that he was 'singular' . Nothing he did was stereotyped or even remotely orthodox. He lived his own life, outside the normal tramlines.

As others have mentioned, he was highly intelligent, a miraculous manipulator of figures, loyal,kind,generous, he did a lot for chess and chessplayers and he was a true lover of the game. He most definitely had close friends

Yet....he was lonely,as are many chessplayers.This is your fate if you immerse yourself too deeply in this dangerous game. Richard's clumsy social skills were an attempt to mask this unremitting fact. So much would have been different for him if he could have forged a stable relationship with a woman. As it was several women told me they found him ' utterly charmless' . He tried and failed.

It took a while before you could see that Richard was deep, that he could understand and that he could certainly love, as he did his friends and without doubt roast chicken.

RIP Richard. We will miss you.

Jon Levitt
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Re: R.I.P. Richard O'Brien (1944-2009)

Post by Jon Levitt » Fri Dec 04, 2009 7:39 pm

You write with a lot of style and humor Andrew, enjoyed reading your tales of RW O B.

All the best

Jonathan

Anthony Taglione
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Re: R.I.P. Richard O'Brien (1944-2009)

Post by Anthony Taglione » Mon Feb 01, 2010 2:26 pm

My first memories of Richard are from a weekend tournament. We met in the final round where I only needed a draw to win and I open with P-K4, "Would you like a draw". Richard took that and my few further similar requests very stoically and merely declined until he was losing and then offered me a draw with a big smile of irony on his face. I couldn't help but accept.

I also have fond memories of being at the British with Andrew Martin and Gentleman Jim Plaskett and Richard. I never knew Richard to the depth that others here did and, to me, he was just another one of "our crowd". I saw the news of his passing with sorrow.

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