Year Book 2019-20 Contents
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12/11/1946 - 14/08/2020
The death has occurred of John Brooke, one of Bradford’s oldest and more “colourful” chess-players. He died peacefully at his Bradford home on 14/08/2020, at the age of 73. He had been born in Bradford on 12/11/1946, the first child of John E Brooke and Alice Brooke (née Ridgway). Sisters Hilary and Sandra followed in time.
I first played against John in the mid-to-late 1960s, at a home I. M. Brown match of Sheffield B (captained by Tony Horlov) against a Bradford team, presumably Bradford B. We were both present as reserves, and not being called on in that capacity, we played a “proper” game under match conditions. John was White in a Queen’s Gambit, as I recall, and he came second on that occasion. Thereafter I always remembered him from that game, whenever I say him at a chess event, partly because for many years he seemed never to change in appearance.
Though very amiable and friendly, he could be quite cantankerous if officialdom was not doing what he thought it ought to be doing, both at the chessboard and more widely. Bradford chess players will have numerous tales about this.
He had spent some time in the United States, this perhaps being in the 1980s, and returning from the US may have been the occasion in one of the best stories about John: he was ejected from an aeroplane shortly before take-off, because he was drunken and disorderly.
Somewhere along the line he had found time to have a daughter, and I remember playing in a Woodhouse Cup match away to Bradford Central, at which John was sitting at his board with his baby in a pram beside him. Seemingly he had not allowed child-minding responsibilities to make him go back on an agreement to play in the match, showing his commitment to playing chess and supporting his team.
His eagerness to play chess was apparent when, around the late 1990s, I happened on him quite by chance in the centre of Sheffield. Apparently he was working in Sheffield at the time. He gave me his mobile phone number to call on him if my Sheffield league team was ever short of a player.
He must have caused a rumpus at the September 2012 Bradford Congress, as he is recorded in early 2013 as having been banned from entering the congress for two years. Accordingly he did not participate in the 2013 congress, though the committee must have relented, as John played in the 2014 congress.
For some reason he took up playing in the Yorkshire league for Harrogate, playing for them for many seasons up to and including 2013-14, but for an apparent virtual break from chess in 2009-10 and most of 2010-11. Had he fallen out with, or been banned by, organisers in Bradford?
I played against John for only the second time when Harrogate B visited Doncaster on 15/03/2014. Again John had White in some kind of Queen’s Gambit. I appeared to be winning material fairly early in the opening, but I was dependent on maintaining a pin on John’s knight at c3 with my queen on the a5-e1 diagonal. John found a humorous resource in sliding his rook up and down the file, hitting my queen each time, so that he was able to draw by “perpetual check” on my queen as it kept on the diagonal. In accordance with his usual good nature, he gave me a lift back to the centre of Doncaster on his way driving back home to Bradford.
He played in the I. M. Brown for Calderdale B during 2014-15 to 2017-18, and for Rose Forgrove B during 2018-19 and 2019-20.
In the Bradford League he played latterly for the club called Central Division.
Around 2016/17 John had a stroke, which was presumably what caused him to start walking with a stick, which he had with him on the last two occasions I saw him.
The funeral took place at Nab Wood crematorium, Shipley, on 28/08/2020.