RIP Peter Poobalasingam

It came as a big shock to hear about the tragic passing of Peter Poobalasingam, aged only 27. He had his whole life ahead of him – this really has hit the chess community hard. No-one can believe it – life can be so cruel.  However, we can take great honour in having known Peter.

I first met Peter at a Richmond Rapidplay when he was around 8 years old. He was a nice boy and spoke to me very kindly after he beat me!  We then met on the chess scene for many years as juniors. Aged 11 he drew against Viswanathan Anand in a simultaneous display. This was just one of his many chess achievements.

We got to know each other very well when we both attended Millfield School. It was then that I realised how kind, caring and intelligent he was. He had many friends as well as being incredibly smart, hardworking and a brilliant chess player. In 2007 and 2008 his won the UK Chess Challenge out of the 40,000 players that began the competition!  He was always very humble and modest of his achievements.

After he left school he went to study mathematics at Bath University. At this time I was at university close by in Bristol. With our shared passions of chess and Bristol nightlife we became very good friends! Peter would arrange early morning chess sessions with James Jackson and myself. This really helped motivate me to study chess and Peter always wanted the best for everyone. In fact I never heard him say a bad word about anyone. It came as no surprise to any of us when Peter graduated from Bath University with a first class degree.

Peter became a FIDE master in 2009. We did lots of chess trips together. One of the most memorable trips was when we went to Zurich for the World University Chess Championships in 2010. The trip consisted of Peter, Vedantha Kumar, Hannah Dale, Lorin D’Costa (coach) and myself. It was full of fun times, lots of laughing and lots of chess. It was here that Peter played some incredible chess and achieved a well deserved second IM norm.

In the last few years of Peter’s life he was focusing on his career – last time I spoke to him he was very excited about a new job and he was flying through his accountancy exams with ease. His intelligence and work ethic ensured he achieved anything he put his mind to. No doubt he would have gone on to become an International Master and probably become a grandmaster. Peter was a member of Barbican 4NCL team since 2009 and was an extremely valued and loved member of the team.

He also helped inspire the next generation of chess players – offering his time to help them improve. Aside from his academic and chess achievements he was a very kind person. Tributes have been flooding in on social media but one of the most fitting states, “Peter was the loveliest person”

The chess community would like to offer their deepest condolences to his family at this extremely difficult time. 

— Sarah Longson