Bringing Chess to Visually Impaired People

The Gazette - February 2020

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

David Welch 1945 - 2019

Many thanks to Peter Purland, who has kindly given permission for us to print the eulogy that he read at David’s funeral on the 6th of December:

David was born in Chesterfield on October 30th 1945, a good date! He was educated at Chesterfield Grammar School where he both played and organised chess which his father had taught him. After a successful career at school he moved on to Queen’s College Cambridge to study Physics. There he played for Queen’s at chess and, believe it or not, was a cox in the college eight. After four years at Cambridge he qualified with an MA and got a job at Liverpool College as junior physics teacher in the Upper School (current Year 9 and above). He started in September 1968 which was also when I started. I taught History and Sport, especially rugby and swimming, in the Lower School (Years 5-8) so at first we did not see a lot of each other. I had played chess at University and agreed to start some teams in the Lower School in 1969. I remember meeting Dave at “The Tram”, the staff pub, and we both mentioned that we would be able to drive the minibus after half term. It was then we found out we were both born on the same day – but in different countries. David was living in a College Flat in Croxteth Road and when Ann and I got engaged I was lucky enough to get the flat above Dave’s. Dave remained the owner of his flat until his death.

After a couple of years running school chess during which time Dave took over the Liverpool Junior Congress which had up to then been run by John Beech. Always a very large congress, in the year of the Fischer Spassky match he managed to top 2000 players which was the largest junior event in the world outside the Soviet Union. Players remember every nook and cranny of Paddington Comprehensive being filled with chess players. In a short time, David became a BCF Judge. He persuaded me to start doing adult congresses and I followed him down the path of International Arbiter and BCF Senior Arbiter. I remember Stewart Reuben saying that there would never be any law disputes when Liverpool College were playing! I am afraid I do not remember the exact dates when David moved up the arbiting ladder but he did become Chief Arbiter of the British Championships and also Chief Arbiter of the BCF (later ECF).

Dave became very involved with the scouts although by now in his 40s, and gave some marvellous experiences to very many young “Lerpoolians”. The respect with which he was held can be judged by the large number of ex 18th Picton scouts here.. For many years he was Group Scout Leader at successful camps both week and weekend. We also took school holidays, often to WWI and II battlefields. Dave did the finance and was very cheesed off when the Euro arrived as it made things far too easy!

Socially, we also started taking holidays together and travelled to Ethiopia, Libya, Jordan, Guatemala, Honduras, Crimea, Lithuania, Finland, Estonia, up the Hurtigruten, Romania, Bulgaria, Czech Republic and many other places. His interest in all these places was immense as was his background knowledge. I am convinced that once he had read or heard facts they were forever imprinted in his brain.

David retired due to ill health in 2000 but this did not stop him travelling or running chess events. He did go to Azerbaijan for the Olympiad and also took up hill walking in the Pennines with some chess friends. Both of us had been involved in chess at Gibraltar from the start of the tournament and visited over 65 times. Sadly, it was in Gibraltar in August 2017 that Dave suffered a severe stroke. He survived it but was left totally paralysed down the right side. He went into Arundel Park Care Home where his many friends visited him. Gradually his health deteriorated and on 7th November he was rushed to Royal Liverpool and passed away peacefully on Saturday 9th November.

He will be remembered as a true gentleman, polite, caring, hard-working and with an excellent brain. His contribution to English Chess has been immense and he will be sorely missed.

Gerry Walsh adds:

As an arbiter, David Welch always treated BCA members who took part in mainstream tournaments with consideration and respect. Therefore, he already had many friends in our association when he first joined us as an arbiter in 2012, at our 80th Anniversary tournament in Harrogate. His efficient and pleasant manner gained him still more friends among us and ensured that he was invited back to control many more BCA events!

David’s funeral took place on the 6th of December and was very well attended. The congregation of about 200 was probably equally divided between his school colleagues and his chess friends, including BCA members Matthew Carr, David Clayton and myself. The service began with the singing of the school hymn, and clearly his friends had not forgotten how to deliver such lovely Latin verses. Pete Purland’s eulogy reinforced our belief that Dave was a special friend to all he met and he will be missed by everyone.