Mr Bruce Birchall

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John McKenna
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Re: Mr Bruce Birchall

Post by John McKenna » Wed May 09, 2012 1:24 pm

Bruce participated in the Ron Banwell Masters 2002. It was held at the Coulsdon Chess Fellowship (CCF) and Keith Selby took photos of the event in play. In at least one photo Bruce could be clearly seen face-on but at a distance.
The best description I can give of Bruce, facially, is that he was like Oliver Cromwell in certain respects - shoulder length brown hair but a high hairline framing a round face. He may even have had a wart to complete the likeness, but I may be imagining that. Also a fine orator.
To find a for(u)m that accommodates the mess, that is the task of the artist now. (Samuel Beckett)

Gordon Cadden
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Re: Mr Bruce Birchall

Post by Gordon Cadden » Wed May 09, 2012 2:37 pm

Bruce won the 1998 Mindsports World Championship competition for Creative Thinking. He organised many junior chess events. I knew him as a junior coach, and many junior organisers in the London area would remember him. He could be dishevelled and unwashed. During the summer season, he would often strip off his shirt, revealing a string vest, and tide marks. Not a good photograph.

John McKenna
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Re: Mr Bruce Birchall

Post by John McKenna » Wed May 09, 2012 3:03 pm

Some 'warts and all' photographers would not agree, me thinks.
To find a for(u)m that accommodates the mess, that is the task of the artist now. (Samuel Beckett)

Scott Freeman
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Re: Mr Bruce Birchall

Post by Scott Freeman » Wed May 09, 2012 8:37 pm

Keith Selby has found 1 photo of Bruce - he was playing Aly Wilson. Not the best picture but possibly enough.

Stewart Reuben
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Re: Mr Bruce Birchall

Post by Stewart Reuben » Thu May 10, 2012 12:51 am

Scott get Keiith Selby to pass th photo to
Daniel Kilroy DanielK@flametv.co.uk
Assistant Producer, Heir Hunters 7, Flame TV, 4a Exmoor Street, London, W10 6BD 020 7598 7315

I am sure they will be grateful.

Malcolm Clarke
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Re: Mr Bruce Birchall

Post by Malcolm Clarke » Thu May 10, 2012 8:22 am

I am not sure whether this information is helpful, but I do remember him being a direct member delegate of the British Chess Federation during the 1990's. I also met him twice when he assisted with Hampshire Junior tournaments during the early 1990's.

richardamullens
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Re: Mr Bruce Birchall

Post by richardamullens » Mon Jan 28, 2013 7:49 pm

Bruce Birchall entered Peterhouse to read Mathematics but changed I believe to English.

As an undergraduate, I saw his production of the play The Bacchae which was performed I think on the lawn at Peterhouse college. Not sure which year - 1967-1969 most likely

Stewart Reuben
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Re: Mr Bruce Birchall

Post by Stewart Reuben » Wed Mar 06, 2013 3:21 pm

HEIR HUNTERS
Monday 11 March BBC1 9.15 to 10am. There will be a segment on Bruce.

Few of you can have any idea how rare it is for programme makers to be so polite as to alert contributors to their programmes.

David Pardoe
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Re: Mr Bruce Birchall

Post by David Pardoe » Sat Mar 09, 2013 7:51 pm

Interesting to read the various testimonies to Bruce..
I wonder if a request could be put to the `estate` for a donation to the ECF. I`d see this as perhaps creating a fund for junior chess events, with a Memorial Trophy/Prizes....maybe presented at one of the British Champs junior events. How good to preserve the memory of such players...... and perhaps help boost junior chess, which he clearly had a keen interest...
BRING BACK THE BCF

Stewart Reuben
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Re: Mr Bruce Birchall

Post by Stewart Reuben » Sat Mar 09, 2013 9:33 pm

A good idea. Let's wait until after the programme. We have no idea of the size of the estate.
I'm not good at asking for donations.

David Pardoe
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Re: Mr Bruce Birchall

Post by David Pardoe » Mon Mar 11, 2013 10:22 am

Hello Stewart....
I watched todays Heir Hunters programme which featured Bruce, with much interest...
Bill Hartston made an appearance, with commentories about his recollections.
I see they discovered one UK based relation, and two based in Austria.
His UK cousen lives in Nottingham, if I heard it right, and mentioned that she`d like to see his estate (of circa £100k), put to good use. or maybe find a `home` that he might approve of, perhaps. Thats loosely how I interpret her words. And no doubt his relations in Austria will have there own views.
However, I do wonder if a request should be put forward for some kind of Memorial Fund/ Trophy, possibly towards junior chess, to remember him by. He clearly had a great love for chess...and was keen on helping juniors progress....so it might be a fitting and dignified way of preserving his memory.
Maybe the ECF could give this some thought and perhaps drop Hier Hunters a letter....
BRING BACK THE BCF

Richard James
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Re: Mr Bruce Birchall

Post by Richard James » Mon Mar 11, 2013 10:33 am

You can watch the programme, which features a contribution by IM Bill Hartston, here.

I believe there were two cousins on his father's side, only one of whom appeared on the programme.

Bruce's particular interest was in promoting girls' chess so perhaps something in this area might be considered.

I note that the BBC website describes Bruce as a 'chess champion' although the programme made no such claim: only that he was a player and teacher.

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Gerard Killoran
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Re: Mr Bruce Birchall

Post by Gerard Killoran » Mon Mar 11, 2013 2:19 pm

Although I enjoyed the programme I think they missed a couple of opportunities. A simple Google search would have thrown up some real gems, such as...

Firstly there's actually a photograph of Bruce Birchall directing his notorious student production of Marat/Sade here:

http://www.cherrygilchrist.co.uk/1/cate ... tre/1.html

Amazingly one of his actors turns out to have been no other than Julian Fellowes, later to become the writer of Downton Abbey. Nothing could be further - dramatically and politically - from Birchall's own work. His lax approach to personal hygiene gets a mention, as it does with my next link which also details his early theatre work:

http://web.onetel.net.uk/~davewalton/ar ... /1969.html

There's a clue to how he accumulated so much money here:

http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=jf ... 0%2C761457

It seems he found a way for people to pay him for doing no work. Being suspended for unprofessional conduct in your first week at work is an achievement in itself. I must admit I'm impressed.

Lastly, some memories both theatrical and chessic from those who knew him:

http://www.unfinishedhistories.com/hist ... -birchall/

Stewart Reuben
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Re: Mr Bruce Birchall

Post by Stewart Reuben » Mon Mar 11, 2013 11:43 pm

I am a real bozo. The programme triggered my memory.
I have on DVD a record of a play from 1993 written by, directed by and starring Bruce. It was staged at the British championship in Dundee and lots of teenagers took part. I also played a minor role.
Of course it was amateur and everybody read from their scripts. But it would have given them some video material of Bruce, instead of lamely using the same photo several times. It was highly topical with Kasparov Short 1993 forming a main theme. It also offered political opinions. I watched it tonight. There was some laughter and clapping.
And the camera crew spent 2 hours in my home!

We tried to do another such play in 1994 in Norwich, but the project collapsed. I never found out why.

Gerard Killoran has unearthed how Bruce came to have some capital. Presumably it just grew in the bank to £100,000. One wonders whether he thought it unethical to spend it.
He certainly had a knack of rubbing people up the wrong way.

Neil Graham
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Re: Mr Bruce Birchall

Post by Neil Graham » Wed Mar 13, 2013 11:45 pm

David Pardoe wrote:Hello Stewart....
I watched todays Heir Hunters programme which featured Bruce, with much interest...
Bill Hartston made an appearance, with commentories about his recollections.
I see they discovered one UK based relation, and two based in Austria.
His UK cousen lives in Nottingham, if I heard it right, and mentioned that she`d like to see his estate (of circa £100k), put to good use. or maybe find a `home` that he might approve of, perhaps. Thats loosely how I interpret her words. And no doubt his relations in Austria will have there own views.
However, I do wonder if a request should be put forward for some kind of Memorial Fund/ Trophy, possibly towards junior chess, to remember him by. He clearly had a great love for chess...and was keen on helping juniors progress....so it might be a fitting and dignified way of preserving his memory.
Maybe the ECF could give this some thought and perhaps drop Hier Hunters a letter....
Just a few words on the programme and some of the comments. I think it's rather futile to guess how Bruce's estate was accumulated. I'm sure that had he left a will the beneficiaries would have been more in keeping with his interests in life and not cousins who he'd clearly either never met or who held disparaging views on his life referring to him on several occasions as "the black sheep of the family". Of course the other thing is that the firm of heir hunters would have taken their cut of the estate which I understand can be anything up to 40% but certainly would run into many thousands of £s. The person who inherited the money could easily have contacted the ECF to make a donation - I think it would be pretty demeaning of the Federation to try and cajole something from her.

Moving on to a more general point, I seem to remember that during Paul Buswell's time as General Secretary of the BCF, he paid for some market research on behalf of the Federation. One of the salient points was that chess players were statistically much more likely to be bachelors than would have been anticipated in the sample taken. Since then the BCF/ECF has received several bequests from supporters in their wills. I recall that there was assistance offered to people drawing up wills to ensure that the Federation benefited from such bequests.
Does such advice still exist?

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