Michael John Haygarth RIP

1934 – 2016 ( a belated obituary)

Michael John Haygarth was born on 11/10/1934 in Leeds. His family was well-rooted in Yorkshire. Keighley-born grandfather, Rhodes Haygarth, was in medical practice in Cross Gates, Leeds. Tadcaster-born father, John Rhodes Haygarth, was a chartered accountant, in Menston then Leeds. Mike in turn earned his crust from accountancy, apparently with one of the accountancy firms in Leeds.

He won the Yorkshire Championship in 1953/54, and 1959/60, though later did not usually participate. Early proficiency in chess was evidenced more emphatically by Mike participating in the British Championship as early as 1955, at the age of 20, and finishing 7th – 9th equal, then in 1956 finishing 3rd – 4th. He played in the Championship every year from 1955 to 1979, except for 1958. The champion’s crown fell to him at Whitby in 1964, when a very lucky win from a losing position against the leader, Norman Littlewood, spurred him on to take the title.

He represented England in two Olympiads, Leipzig 1960 and Tel Aviv 1964, as well as other events including the Clare Benedict Cup.

Though seemingly a confirmed bachelor, in 1982 he married Margaret Boardman (!), helping to seriously disrupt the Woodhouse Cup match schedule that Saturday. (Leeds University’s board one also got married on the same day!) The newly-weds lived for a short while with the bride’s mother in Horsforth, Leeds, then established their own home elsewhere in Horsforth, remaining at that address up to 1993.

Mike withdrew completely from chess after getting married.

As some stage he removed to France, perhaps in 1993, but eventually returned to England, seemingly Rochdale, Lancashire. “Michael John Haygarth, formerly of Leeds and France, past British Chess Champion” was reported as dying peacefully in hospital on 27/04/2016 [Yorkshire Post, 03/05/2016], aged 81. He was cremated at Rochdale Crematorium on 06/05/2016.

— Steve Mann 03/08/2018