Graham lectured in surveying. When I met him in the early seventies he lived in Bishop’s Stortford with his wife Sally, son Matt and daughter Emma. He lived a two minute walk from my office and so Sally often kindly fed me before matches. He generally always wore a beard and looked like a young slim Graham Hill. He originated from Somerset, as did Sally. He was involved with the M5 construction at Taunton and according to him it was his Surveying error that caused the road to be terraced on two levels at Taunton! Graham was very involved in Bishop’s Stortford club, he was 1st team Captain for years and a great ambassador for the club. He represented the County often and did the congress circuit, later on accompanied by son Matt. Graham was a good footballer in his youth, and a strong supporter of grass roots football later on. A very nice guy who took me under his wing when I first joined the club. He was Best man at my wedding in 1984. He inspired and encouraged me during my early years and drove me to matches, county games and congresses. Graham rejoined the club after a long break a few years ago but sadly passed away soon after.
Max lived in Much Hadham with his wife, until very recently when they moved to Sawston to be nearer their daughter. He was a Carpenter by trade and worked on a farm in Hadham. My father was an Agricultural Engineer and actually met Max before I did, it was only when I mentioned Max to him that he told me he had known Max for years. Max was actually quite well known in Hadham, whenever I mention him to Hadham folk they always talk affectionately about him. He hardly ever missed a club night, having been a member for as long as I can remember. Max was the main contender to Graham Brown as nicest guy at club when I was young. I do not know much about his early years but allegedly was in England during WW2 and chose to stay after war.
Sid was a copywriter for a company in Harlow. He lived alone in a bungalow in Kingsbridge Road in Bishop’s Stortford. I always thought he bore a passing resemblance to Lasker. Sid always preferred a game of chess to household chores! He fed me many times before a match. He changed his openings every season and threw away the score sheet immediately after every game. His favourite joke was “what is the difference between a picture frame and Watneys Red Barrel? One is a missing picture and the other is a pissing mixture”. Sid loved his beer. Whenever he gave directions he used pubs as landmarks and digressed to explain how well their beer was kept and what beer they sold. He always commanded respect. Sid didn’t drive, never married, avoided congresses and county chess. He represented the club and took part in internals only. He always ran the Hewitt with a handicap system nobody understood, based on the relative strengths of the players, but which gave the weaker players a better chance. He always reminded me a bit of a mad professor. He was always very polite and softly spoken, I never saw him angry or upset. He always offered his opponent a pint. Sadly Sid passed away many years ago.
Freddie was a teacher or lecturer. He was renowned for being a bit accident prone. When he was driving he scared his passengers witless! He was on Mastermind but scored very low because kept asking for questions to be repeated. He was a very nice guy. Freddie was bald on top but grew the hair around the back and sides. He was a typical very intelligent but slightly batty head teacher type person, the sort liable to leave the house without his trousers because he was distracted by a mathematical equation! He was not unknown to wear a blazer, check trousers, sandals and short grey socks. Freddie was a dedicated club member in the Max Ashley mould. Sadly he passed away long time ago.
Tom was a Company director. He lived in Elsenham with his wife. He was an Architect come site manager and was involved in various projects in London, rail stations etc. He was very involved in County chess and was the 2nd team County Captainfor many years. I always thought he bore an uncanny resemblance to Alexander Alekhine. Tom was a very confident individual, proud of his professional achievements. He always wore a suit or was smartly dressed. Tom was very self effacing about his chess ability. Like most of the club members of his time he passed away long time ago.
Written by Graham Lawrence