Wednesday 10 October 2018

Belated Obituary - Brian Hitchins

Robert Milner has submitted the following obituary regarding the recent passing of Brian Hitchins:

Brian Thomas Hitchins 1953-2018

Brian was born in 1953 at Smallthorne.  I believe he started to play chess when he was at Warwick University in the early 1970s but I am not sure and it may be that he only honed his skills after learning before he went there.  He became a very useful player with his grade rising into the 160s and 170s  in the 1980s and 1990s.  When he returned to North Staffordshire after University, he joined the Pioneer Club at Smallthorne which was the home of Smallthorne Chess Club and when I became more active in the old Stoke League in 1974, he was an established character at all the meetings.  During the middle and late 1970s, he often travelled to the county Congress at Northicote School in Wolverhampton on our bus, which we took down each day, and became friendly with several members of our club to whom he was known as "big H" - particularly amongst the younger ones.  I believe that this was how he was known at his own club.  By the late 1970s, he had taken over from Roy Willis as the Secretary of Smallthorne club and in 1981 he also became the League Treasurer.  He became as dedicated to that job as he was to his own club and its members.

During the late 1980s, he sometimes came to visit us as he wanted to know how to encourage his members even more as he was very despondent about some of them leaving to join other clubs.  When he visited us, he always came on the bus and I believe that driving was never to be one of his accomplishments.  During the 1990s, he gradually became more despondent and in 1996, he retired as League Treasurer and stopped playing.

I never saw him again until he turned up in  2016, apparently interested in starting to play again and I was delighted to hear that soon afterwards he joined Kidsgrove and graced the League once more - albeit with a somewhat reduced grade.  It is with great sadness, therefore, that I hear of his passing and think that the League has lost one of its greatest stalwarts of the last fifty years.