Mar 262015

resignedWe’ve just been given sad news by our colleagues at the Bradford Chess Club of the untimely passing of Steve Priest. Steve was a stalwart of our club and a regular player in our ‘B’ and ‘C’ teams up until last season when illness forced him to significantly reduce his playing commitments. He was a prolific player outside Calderdale too and I remember being amazed a few years ago when I found out that, aside from playing for us in the Calderdale League, he was also appearing regularly in Bradford, Leeds and Huddersfield competitions as well. In fact a quick look at his record on the Yorkshire Chess Association Grading list confirms that he played an incredible ninety five rated games in Yorkshire in the 2011-12 season! Moreover, he played only a handful fewer in each of the three seasons before that one. These statistics demonstrate his passion for the game and his unquenchable competitive spirit.

Steve was a real fighter at the board. On the handful of occasions when I played him I found him to be a most tenacious and resourceful opponent who simply didn’t know when he was beaten and made you struggle to draw any concession from him. Even the handshake at the end of the game could sometimes seem grudging but he always gave his opponents full respect though he hated losing and it wasn’t uncommon to hear him muttering rebuke to himself at the board when he make a mistake. Put simply he was one of those characters that make playing club chess such a joyful and interesting recreation. Last year I published a particularly memorable and intensely hard fought epic draw that I had with him in my Travail Pursuit column on the Yorkshire Chess website. I’ve published the game again below as I believe it’s a typical of his uncompromising and spirited approach to the game.

I’m sure that some readers will want to share their own memories of Steve here. I don’t know where chess players go to when they pass on but I’m sure wherever Steven is he’ll have announced his arrival with his traditional greeting of “Fancy a game?”

  8 Responses to “Steve Priest remembered”

  1. God bless his soul and may he rest in peace.

    My thoughts are with his family, friends and club colleagues at this very difficult time.

  2. Sad news

  3. Steve was a great guy. He was very generous in offering lifts to other players and in spreading the word about other chess meetings. He was also very active away from chess, setting up local nature reserves and organising rubbish collections, and more. A sad loss to the community as a whole.

  4. I remember playing in a match at the Trades when suddenly loud reggae music came from the bar … I looked around at several clearly annoyed chess players but,then noticed Steve who was practically dancing in his seat and obviously enjoying the music … a lovely moment

  5. Very sad to hear, only played Steven in a handful of friendlies but seemed like a nice chap and a tenacious handful.

  6. Steve was always up for a friendly scrap on practice night, in life we are all adviced to embrase victory and defeat with the same calm response, as much as you can do in chess Steve wore his heart on his sleeve enjoyed his victories and was uncomfortable in defeat, he will be a much missed character who loved the game.

  7. […] Huddersfield Examiner Obituary Hebden Bridge Chess Club […]

  8. What a sad loss Steve is to his community, his family and to chess. He will be much missed. A side of Steve’s character that few chess players knew was this: ”
    Huddersfield restaurant reviews
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    West Yorkshire News
    Huddersfield New College

    Obituary: Stephen Priest

    09:51, 30 March 2015
    By Neil Atkinson

    Man who helped keep Huddersfield beauty spot immaculate


    Stephen Priest

    A man who spent years helping to preserve a Huddersfield beauty spot has died from cancer.

    Stephen Priest, founder member of local conservation group Friends of Longley Woods, has left behind a lasting legacy of his dedicated voluntary work, protecting and developing the woods as a local nature reserve.

    For the last decade, Mr Priest worked tirelessly, campaigning to improve access, protect wildlife and clear tons of unwanted rubbish, including motorbikes, cars; even old fridges.

    He lived in Kings Mill Lane, Aspley, so the woods were virtually his back garden.

    Mr Priest founded the group with Mrs Margaret Clements back in October 2003 and as chairman of the Friends of Longley Woods, he organised monthly meetings at Longley Golf Club, who provided much needed support in the early days of the group.

    Until its closure, the group also met at the Flyboat pub in Aspley, running activities for local people including building bird/ bat boxes, fungus forays, tree and bulb planting, work on ponds, paths and countless clean-ups. There was even a Teddy Bear’s Picnic and The Friends linked up with local organisations like Huddersfield Sea Cadets, local schools and Kid’s Clubs to encourage people to visit and cherish the woods on their doorstep.

    Mr Priest and other members of the Friends of Longley Woods went on to write their own book, “Hidden Treasures”.”

    This extract was taken from the Huddersfield Examiner.

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