A memorial service was held for England international chess player Geoff Harris on Saturday 7th January at St Peters Church, Pedmore. Geoff passed away peacefully at Russells Hall Hospital on 27th May 2016, aged 86 years. He was the devoted husband of Pat and lived in Bromwich Lane.
Pat, several family members and friends paid tribute to Geoff at the service which was lead by Priest in Charge Sarah Northall.
Geoff was born in 1930. He gained a scholarship which enabled him to attend King Edward 6th School, Stourbridge. His early chess was mentored by the legendary Tom Chattaway, a member of the teaching staff. He initially joined Stourbridge Chess Club whilst at King Edward’s.
After the Second World War, like many other young men, he undertook National Service. As a member of the Pay Corps he was posted to Wolverley, so was able to continue his chess career with little or no interruption. He sometimes walked from Wolverley to his home in Stourbridge. After National Service he joined Lye Chess Club where he played board one and was part of the Lye team that won the Worcestershire County Team championships.
When the Lye Club folded, Geoff rejoined Stourbridge. Geoff became the regular top board at Stourbridge helping them to win several County titles and two Birmingham League titles. He played regularly on top board for Worcestershire. He played in tournaments and finished 6th in the British Open Championship in 1954 which gained his selection for a number of international matches including several on the continent. He was Worcestershire County Captain for several years as well as holding several offices at Stourbridge. He was also the Worcestershire County Chess Champion for 1961-62 and 1962-63.
Geoff played postal chess to a very high standard both in individual and inter-county championships and contributed to the Chess column of The Birmingham Post.
He had many interests outside chess including football, cricket and horse racing.
In chess, Geoff was a very friendly opponent with a good sense of humour. He was always prepared to play anyone on club nights irrespective of their abilities. He often offered a draw in club events and was always willing to analyse his games and was generous in highlighting his opponents’ better moves.
Geoff Harris was a genuine gentleman of the chess board.