Bringing Chess to Visually Impaired People

The Gazette - August 2008

Sponsored by the Ulverscroft Foundation
Edited by Guy Whitehouse
The views expressed in the Gazette do not necessarily reflect the policies or views of the BCA, nor those of the editor.

Obituary for George Plechaty

The funeral of George Plechaty was held on Friday 24th April 2008 at Pitsen Crematorium, Basildon. The following members of the BCA attended the funeral: Mike Murphy, Baz and Sal Kenealy, Clive and Phyllis Hodgkins.

Janet Plechaty telephoned a couple of days before the funeral and asked Clive if he would say a few words in memory of George at the funeral on behalf of the BCA; this is what he said:

I first met George about 20 years ago at a BCA tournament and over the years we became great friends. He thoroughly enjoyed playing chess, and, win or lose, he didn’t mind, as he always said what a good game he had had. He had a great sense of humour and was always cheerful. In the Braille Chess Association he was always appreciated for his loyalty and the hard work he did for them.

George was looking forward to going to the Netherlands last weekend to see his friends over there. He was greatly missed by all the chessplayers and host families. George was the organiser of the English party for several years.

All his friends in Haaksbergen send their condolences to Janet and all the family. I know that Phyllis and I and my family and all members of the Braille Chess Association will miss George immensely, and his personality will be very hard to replace.

All of us in the Braille Chess Association send our heartfelt condolences to Janet and all the family in their great loss. He will be greatly missed at future chess tournaments.

To finish, George, all I can say is this: You will be greatly missed but never forgotten, and as the song ‘getting to know you’ says, I will say, George, you have been great to know.

There are a number of comments on the BCA’s website (see front page of gazette for address) along the same lines. To conclude with I’ll quote these lines from Tyson Mordue:

It's another sad day. Yet again one of the BCA's most prolific OTB players has passed away.

I will remember George Plechaty as someone who loved chess. He thoroughly enjoyed the struggle, relished the plotting of tiny details, and ceaselessly strived to improve his game. His understanding of chess far exceeded his own playing standard, and he was able to raise his game after taking early retirement from Barclays Bank. George was thrilled to win the training tournaments at Teignmouth in 2003 and Windermere in 2004, and at the recent AGM tournament was delighted not only to be able to compete in the top section but also to draw with John Gallagher, graded thirty or so points above him.

George would never have considered himself as a strong player, but he was a very active one until his recent illness curtailed his appearances. George regularly played in the London League and congresses, as well as Spectrum-organized events all around the country. In particular, he loved going to the week-long Paignton event at the beginning of September. Whilst I was playing in my BCA challenge George was frequently together with Geoff Patching at events where I was also playing - Paignton, Weymouth, Torbay, Spectrum Dudley - and he was always asking after my progressive totals and encouraging me.

Until recently George was the only VH player to have played in the 4NCL for a team other than the BCA when he turned out for local club Basildon one weekend.

I had the pleasure of dining with George every evening at Derby during the recent AGM tournament. He recalled how much he loved walking along the Promenade at Paignton with his guide dog Keaton. Indeed, both he and his wife Janet enjoyed their holidays there so much that they very strongly considered moving to Paignton after George's retirement. It would have been fascinating to see this London 'rogue', as he once described himself, in the role of a seaside retiree, but sadly it wasn't to be.

One of the late Steve Boniface's favorite anecdotes was about George. The point of the anecdote was that he couldn't recall the name of this particular VH player, but he could remember the guide dog's name - Keaton! George was very amused when I told him. Indeed, George had a typically wry Cockney sense of humour to go with a wonderfully cheeky grin, even though he would admit to a 'short fuse' as well.

Recently George and Janet were featured in the newspapers in Basildon after they complained about the poor treatment of VH shoppers at a local supermarket. George was robust and determined with his complaint and eventually won an apology from the supermarket after several weeks of wrangling.

In spite of his illness George faced up to things very bravely, and he was planning to go to as many chess events as he could while he had the time. He admitted to me at Derby that the doctors said he had anything between three weeks to two years life expectancy. Sadly George didn't even get that, but he would be happy knowing that his last event was a BCA one.