Peter Campbell Gibbs 1934-2023

The chess community is much saddened by the news of the death of former MCCU President Peter Gibbs. Peter was educated at Bradford Grammar School and trained as a solicitor. He first came to notice in chess circles when he shared first place in the 1952 British Under-18 Championship with Bernard Cafferty and Peter Sanderson.  In 1954 he came second to Bernard Cafferty in the under-21 British Championship and he was British Universities Champion in 1956.

He represented England in the World Student Team Chess championships on four occasions between 1954 and 1960 where he played against the world’s best players.

Between 1955 and 1962 Peter played in the British Championship tournament with a highest finishing place of 6th in 1957. He beat Gerald Abrahams in the 1962 British in Whitby with a Ruy Lopez Worral attack with some fine attacking play.

(15106) Peter Campbell Gibbs – Gerald Abrahams [C86]
BCF-ch Whitby ENG (1), 13.08.1962

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0–0 Be7 6.Qe2 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.a4 Na5 9.axb5 Nxb3 10.cxb3 Bb7 11.bxa6 Bxe4 12.Nc3 Bf5 13.d4 e4 14.Ng5 d5 15.f3 0–0 16.fxe4 Bg4 17.Qd3 h6 18.e5 hxg5 19.exf6 gxf6 20.Bd2 Kg7 21.Ne2 Rh8 22.Ng3 Rh4 23.h3 Be6 24.Nf5+ Bxf5 25.Rxf5 c6 26.Ba5 Qh8 27.Be1 Re4 28.Bf2 Bd6 29.Bg3 Be7 30.Bh2 Qc8 31.g4 Qe6 32.Rf3 Bd8 33.Bg3 Bb6 34.Bf2 Ba7 35.Rc1 Re8 36.Qc3 Rc8 37.b4 Bb8 38.b5 Rh8 39.b6 Rxg4+ 40.hxg4 Qxg4+ 41.Bg3 f5 42.a7 f4 43.axb8Q Rxb8 44.Kf2 fxg3+ 45.Rxg3 Qf4+ 46.Kg1 Rh8 47.Qe3


Following Peter’s appearances in the British Championships, he played in the Britain v The Netherlands match in 1964 where he won both of his games. Peter was for many years a member of Birmingham Chess Club, usually playing board two, below Bernard Cafferty.

Although Peter’s work as a solicitor for the Royal Borough of Sutton Coldfield precluded competing in international events at the highest level, Peter was keen to promote the game and could still beat up-and-coming players such as Tony Miles in 1970. He was also three time Warwickshire individual champion in 1956, 1966 and 1970. 

Peter retired from the post of deputy town clerk of Sutton Coldfield in 1974 when local government in England was re-organised. Although he continued as a solicitor working for Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council, he had more time for chess. He moved to Burbage in Leicestershire and played for Nuneaton which became his main club.  He played board 1 for Leicestershire securing a draw against Keith Arkell in 1978. Peter was also a keen correspondence player winning the 1999-2000 British Veterans Correspondence Championship.

Peter did not confine his chess activities to playing. He was a British Chess Federation arbiter and an English Chess Federation accredited coach. He jumped at the chance when in 1967 he was asked to be chess correspondent for the Birmingham Post. Peter was a stalwart for his club, Hinckley and gave simultaneous exhibitions and visited schools to generate local interest.  He contributed greatly to the organisation of chess for the Blind and correspondence chess. He helped organise training for blind players and accompanied the British Braille team when they played abroad. In the field of correspondence chess he was active in committees of the English Federation for Correspondence Chess between 1965 and 2007, a tournament organiser between 2000 and 2011, and donated a trophy for the MCCU individual Correspondence Chess Championship.  

Peter’s contributions to the game have been recognised by many chess organisations. He was a Life Vice President of three county associations –Warwickshire, Leicestershire and Yorkshire – and has been President of the Midland Counties Chess Union and the English Federation for Correspondence Chess. He received the British Chess Federation President’s Award in 1988. He will be much missed within the chess community given his outstanding contributions across so many areas. Ray Dolan, CEO Midland Counties Chess Union writes, “A legend … a gentleman of the game of chess”.

Peter is survived by his wife Celia and two children. The funeral will be held on Friday 4th August 12:30pm at Heart of England Crematorium, Eastboro Way, Nuneaton. Family flowers only, donations in Peter’s memory to the Braille Chess Association.

Written by Ray Collett with input from Ray Dolan and many thanks for the illustrative game from Nigel Towers, and information from Colin Green, Alex Holowczak,  John Saunders, and David Thomas. The picture, showing Peter on board 1 at the 1960 World Student Team Championships, playing Boris Spassky, is courtesy of Dr John Upham/BCM