**March 2007* *
Tony Kiddle R.I.P.
It is with great sadness that I have to report on the death of one of the all-time local chess greats, Mr Tony Kiddle.
Tony died on the way home from a recent Middlesbrough football match. The news was shocking, unbelievable and has left the local chess community absolutely stunned.
It is impossible to give any sort of justice to his contribution to chess in our area in such a short column. For most of us, he has always been there, with his big booming voice and indomitable personality. In many ways, he WAS Middlesbrough Chess Club. He put so much time and effort into so many aspects of local chess life, including many, many years teaching and encouraging an abundance of juniors.
He was a very competitive man; the record of his beloved Middlesbrough Rooks speaks for itself. Yet when Elmwood turned into serious rivals and traded league titles with the Rooks over the last few years, he was always the first to congratulate the opposition on a job well done and there was never any doubt that he was totally sincere in giving his best wishes.
Not many of Tony’s best games survive; I believe he threw his scoresheets away shortly after each match. Therefore I can quote very few instances of play and must confine this tribute to various random vignettes that have stuck in my mind over the years.
When I first started playing the county team, in the early 1980s, Tony was graded in the 160s. There is no doubt at all that he would have easily maintained such a high grade if he had out just a fraction of his chess time into his own game instead of encouraging others all his life. Tony frequently occupied a high board for the county A team, usually around board six or seven. I remember watching the end of the top games on one occasion (I was a minnow in the B team at the time). I looked at Tony’s game and he seemed to be under pressure. The opponent had a Bishop pair right in the middle of the board in a late-middlegame. Tony leaned back, took a big draw from his massive cigar, turned to me and boomed: ‘Strongest pair of Bishops I’ve seen in my life!!’
I didn’t get the chance to play many games against him. The most memorable was this one…
T. Kiddle v S. Marsh
Middlesbrough Rooks v Guisborough, 1987
White is in trouble, but Tony thought for some time and then played 16 Qd6. Normally he would get straight up and look at the other games or start making fun of someone (in a nice way, of course). This time he remained seated. All because…he wanted to sacrifice his Queen to force mate, with 17 Qxf8+ Kxf8 18 Rd8+ and Re8 mate! I played 16 …Na6, connecting the Rooks and eliminating the danger, whereupon he broke into a thunderous and lengthy guffaw before booming out to me (and the whole of Guisborough) ‘What do you want to spoil all my little traps for, eh?’
Tony was one of the specially invited players in the 1st Cleveland Senior Chess Championship I organised two years ago this month.
It became apparent that Tony was not on his best chess form on that day. The reason? He’d been ‘…up till four o’clock at my mate’s party – hahahahaha!’
In the days before obesity became the national norm and made him look relatively slim, Tony was, frankly, the largest person any of us ever knew. With his big, booming voice and penchant for always speaking his mind, this could have given the impression of him being some sort of ogre, but he was very kind-hearted and public spirited.
Always laughing, always joking, always keeping things moving along. That’s how I – and many others – will remember the great Tony Kiddle.
25th March 2007