The Chess Club is reeling from the completely unexpected death of one of its stalwarts. Richard Almond died last Saturday at the age of 46.
Richard, who was the reigning Club co-Champion, had been a leading member of the Club for years and it is nigh impossible to imagine the Club without him.
He was a Grove School chess player who progressed to serious adult play in the Club, becoming a strong County player who twice played in the British Championship as well as occasionally taking the scalps of titled international players during his extensive tournament play. But as well as competitive success he also put his skills into chess administration and into supporting the game he loved: he had been captain of our title-winning Mid-Sussex League team, match secretary of the Sussex first team, Chess Club Treasurer and still was a Trustee of the charitable Junior Fund.
But above all the messages coming in from elsewhere in the chess world emphasise his perfect courtesy and gentlemanly approach to the game and the favourable impression this made on all opponents. An impression echoed in the Chess Club, where he always had time to help other members on all and any matters.
RIP Richard Almond 04/01/67 – 23/03/13
My name is Mark Rich and I will probably be known to a number of Hastings Chess Club members. I joined the club when I was 13 years of age and at this time became good friends with Richard Almond. We went to the same secondary school (as did Stuart Conquest – GM) in Hastings called The Grove.
Over the years, we must have played literally hundreds of games (mainly blitz but a few “over the board” matches) together. Richard was a quiet unassuming person who loved playing chess and also the social side that this brought to his life as well. He enjoyed sport and was a fan of Liverpool FC. In his younger years he was a good runner and also cycled a lot. He lived with his mother until a couple or so years ago when she sadly passed away. He was an only child so lived alone after her death.
Richard was a very good player and represented the club on many occasions, at the highest level. He represented Sussex at county level and also captained the first team for a period of time. He was very tough to beat and resilient. Richard was always a fan of the Queens Gambit Declined (as black) and initially the Caro-Kann against 1.e4 Later on, he played the Scandinavian Defence against 1.e4 As White he always played 1.d4
Richard was also a member of the e2e4 team that played in the National League (4NCL) event and, it was on his way to this event, that Richard was very sadly taken ill and passed away, as a consequence.
When I heard the very sad news of his death, I agreed immediately to speak at his funeral and say a few words in his memory. He was a good friend to me for in excess of 30 years and although in later years, we did not see each other much, we kept in touch via Email.
His death is a very sad occasion for many of us but I am sure that his memory will live on for very long. It was very touching to see so many people attend his funeral in Hastings with so many of them coming from all over Sussex to attend.
May you rest in peace my friend.
Here is a game from the Hastings Masters (3), 30.12.2008
Almond,RJ – Eames,RS
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nf3 Bg7 4.Nc3 0-0 5.e4 d6 6.Be2 e5 7.0-0 Nc6 8.d5 Ne7 9.Ne1 Nd7 10.f3 f5 11.g4 Kh8 12.h4 Ng8 13.g5 h6 14.Kg2 f4 15.Rh1 Rf7 16.Nd3 Bf8 17.Qg1 Rh7 18.Kf1 hxg5 19.hxg5 Rxh1 20.Qxh1+ Kg7 21.Qh4 Be7 22.Nxf4 exf4 23.Bxf4 Ne5 24.Bd2 Nf7 25.f4 Kf8 26.Kg2 c5 27.Rh1 Bd7 28.Qh7 Be8 29.Bg4 a6 30.Be6 b5 31.Qxg6 Ra7 32.Rh8 1-0
and a losing game against Bernard Cafferty in the Hastings Club Championship, 01.06.1996
Almond,Richard – Cafferty,Bernard
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 0-0 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.Qxc3 b6 7.Bg5 h6 8.Bh4 c5 9.e3 Bb7 10.f3 A double-edged move, slowing down his K-side development.
10…Nc6 11.Bd3 cxd4 12.exd4 d5 13.Ne2 dxc4 14.Bxc4 Rc8 15.Qd3 e5! 16.d5? He had to simplify by 16 dxe5 Nxe5 17 Qxd8 Rfxd8 18 Bxf6 gxf6 19 Bb5 with near equality, though Black has such continuations as 19…Nd3+ or 19…Rc2.
16…e4! 17.Qe3 Ne5 18.b3 Nfg4! The loose bishop at h4 and the uncastled king now come into the equation.
19.Qxe4 Qxh4+ 20.g3 Qf6 21.0-0 Nxc4 22.fxg4 Nd2 23.Rxf6 Nxe4 0-1