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  1. #1
    CC Candidate Master
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    Sep 2009

    Greg Hjorth has passed away.

    The Age death notices list tf ahat Greg Hjorth died suddenly on January 13th 2011.The cause of death is not yet known.This is a tragedy for chess,and the loss of a dear friend.

  2. #2
    CC International Master Bereaved's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    That is so sad..........

    He will be missed indeed..........

    My condolences to his family

    Vale Greg,

    Take care and God Bless, Malcolm Pyke

    the Age tributes page:
    Last edited by Bereaved; 15-01-2011 at 11:03 PM.
    It is not a matter of God being on your side; it is a matter of being on God's side that matters

  3. #3
    CC Grandmaster Adamski's Avatar
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    Nov 2007
    Penrith, NSW
    That is sad news indeed. My thoughts and prayers are with the family of this well-known Australian chess identity.
    God exists. Short and to the point.

    Secretary of, and regularly arbiter at, Rooty Hill RSL Chess Club. See

    Psephological insight. "Controversial will only lose you votes. Courageous will lose you the election." Sir Humphrey Appleby on Yes Minister.

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  4. #4
    Monster of the deep Kevin Bonham's Avatar
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    Jan 2004
    Sad loss for chess and mathematics; he was only 47.

  5. #5
    Reader in Slood Dynamics Rincewind's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    The multiverse
    Yes indeed a great loss.
    So einfach wie möglich, aber nicht einfacher - Albert Einstein

  6. #6
    CC Candidate Master
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    Jan 2005
    This is very sad. Just around 18-20 months ago, he played (what I believe was) his last competitive chess tournament, the City of Melbourne Open 2009. And now he is no longer with us.

    I hope the Melbourne Chess Club and the wider chess community in Victoria and the rest of Australia honour his memory. Perhaps, this year's City of Melbourne Open (which will happen after the Club Championship) can be renamed the Greg Hjorth Memorial.

    Of course he was a big part of chess in this country, but he is much more than simply a player - he was also a teacher, researcher and friend. I can imagine that contemparies of Greg - Guy West, Ian Rogers, Darryl Johansen, et al - will be deeply saddened. Finally, we shouldn't forget his family who will miss him.

    Vale Gregory Hjorth.

  7. #7
    CC Grandmaster
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    Apr 2006
    Melbourne, Australia
    This is horrible news. I was priviledged to get to play Greg in some Allegros last year as well as to have some great conversations with him...RIP
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  8. #8
    CC International Master Rhubarb's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    I too am very saddened by this news. Although I only met Greg once, in passing at the Shore Inn in Sydney in the early nineties, players of my generation knew him as a legend of Australian chess even after he moved to the US.

  9. #9
    CC Candidate Master Sutek's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Yes, very sad news indeed.
    I played Greg a number of times when we were juniors.

  10. #10
    CC Grandmaster ER's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Melbourne - Australia

    Greg's ChessChat Interview

    Sad news indeed.

    I interviewd Greg for ChessChat in July last year

    The interview, complete with many other chess personalities comments, can be found here rest in peace Greg!

    RIP Greg
    Last edited by ER; 16-01-2011 at 09:13 AM.
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  11. #11
    CC International Master
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    I remember Greg as a fellow member of Waverley Chess Club and a rising star in Victorian junior chess in the late 70’s. Though a few years their junior, he competed for top honours with the likes of Rogers, Johansen, West and Smith. A brilliant and insightful player and, by all accounts, a brilliant mathematician, it is sad to hear of his untimely passing.

  12. #12
    CC Grandmaster Ian Murray's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Very sad news. It was only last week I was reminiscing on Greg's acceptance of my invitation to play in Rocky -

    I saw him again at the 2000 National Open in Las Vegas, but didn't get a chance to talk

  13. #13
    CC Candidate Master
    Join Date
    Jul 2005

    Goodbye old friend. From Guy West.

    I first met Greg when I was in secondary school and I heard that Preshil Primary School had a young boy who was a bit of a chess wizard. Because both Preshil and my school, Era, were so called 'experimental' schools, there was a relationship between the two, with Era getting a lot of Preshil children whose parents wanted progression into a secondary school with a similar framework.

    I organised a four game match with the diminutive champion, and after winning the first three games was stunned to be beaten in the fourth game. He could hardly see over the table at that age! I remember telling Greg that he had a lot of talent and should play tournament chess, and that Greg seemed quite surprised and interested. Needless to say I saw a lot more of Greg over the chessboard in the ensuing years!

    I'll say a little about Greg's chess, as that is where our lives intersected, and it was important to him, as to nearly all serious tournament players. Greg was a chessplayer with a deep appreciation of the artistic side of the game and he played games of great beauty and subtlety. Interestingly he combined a strong competitive drive with quite a dreamy, dissociated demeanour at the board, almost as if he was playing in a mild trance sometimes.

    Something Greg and I had in common as youngsters was a penchant for going barefooted, something that sometimes got us into trouble with tournament officials. In my nonsense poem, "Waverley versus Mars" I recall there was a verse about Greg which ended with the lines, ....who perched upon his chair, and wouldn't do his laces up, because his feet were bare. Greg had a refreshingly anti authoritarian streak which I have more than a suspicion caused him grief in the increasingly hierarchical environment of Melbourne University.

    One night Greg and I were playing in an A grade interclub match but our Team Captain had forgotten to tell Greg he was rostered to play. In those days the time limit was 40 moves in 90 minutes, but if you weren't at the board within the first hour you lost on forfeit. With about 20 minutes left before forfeit our Captain rang Greg to see where he was, only to find Greg was already in his pyjamas! Amazingly Greg did a fast change, like Superman in a phone booth, jumped on a tram and arrived with literally less than a minute remaining before forfeit. With only 30 minutes remaining on his clock against his opponents hour and a half, Greg whipped out the swashbuckling Belgrade Gambit and achieved a crushing victory. That kind of charismatic performance, and his attacking style and exceptional results at a very early age, helped to create a larger than life mythology around Greg in the chess scene that persists to this day.

    Greg loved, and was well read in, philosophy. He also loved a good argument. I remember once driving to Canberra from Melbourne for the Doeberl Cup and shortly after we left, Greg and Darryl Johansen started arguing some philosophical point. I swear they were still arguing what seemed to be the same philosophical point when we arrived! I don't believe either has ever been defeated in an argument. Darryl was kind enough to be on the receiving end of Greg's 'immortal g-file game'. No doubt Darryl would be able to recall the origin of the saying, "Strong move, Gregory!" I can't remember where it came from.

    Unfortunately (for Australian chess at least), Greg's genius for mathematics took him to the United States, where he carved out a distinguished academic career, earning the title of Professor at (I think) UCLA. His chess seems to have gone on the backburner for quite a while. He had already earned the title of International Master and was widely regarded as someone who would inevitably attain the Grandmaster title, but as often happens, other talents and interests intervened. For decades his old friends and sparring partners didn't hear much, though there was a frisson of excitement when he reappeared in a few tournaments in the United States, still playing at a high level. When George Bush junior was elected I received a one word e-mail from Greg that said only, "Aaaaaaaarrrrrrrrgh!"

    Then Greg came back to Australia and we had the great pleasure of becoming reacquainted. Greg admitted to me that when we were young chessboard rivals there were times he hated me, and we laughed about that. We had so much shared history, so we were both very happy to reconnect, and any past rivalries only added to the texture of our friendship. People who have grown up together and shared travel, triumphs, defeats and defining experiences like representing Australia at Olympiads, can find that the intervening years are trivial, and so it was with Greg. He was one of the few old friends from chess I was able to invite to my small wedding, but due to his travel plans it wasn't to be.

    I was very sad when, after a lot of soul searching, he decided to go back to the US permanently. He told me privately he was 'divorcing' Australia. I had the feeling that Greg was still searching for something, that perhaps he had something of a restless soul. No doubt having a foot in each of two cultures can be a lonely experience and it's sad that Australia, his true home, couldn't provide the environment for a person of Greg's abilities to flourish professionally. I think as a country Australia needs to reassess its direction in some areas. It's nice to win lots of swimming medals, but mathematics and hard science underpins the whole modern way of life, and the brain drain from our shores can't be good for us long term.

    When I heard yesterday that Greg had died suddenly I was deeply shocked. Why do the brightest stars often go too early? My deepest sympathies go to his loved ones. Greg was a person of great complexity, with a great capacity for warmth and love. He would greet his friends, male and female, with a big hug and usually some greeting like, "I'm so glad to see you". He was an unforgettable person, with a diverse and eclectic group of friends. His brilliant mind, inquisitiveness, love of philosophy and humour will be missed by so many of us.

    I'm not part of Greg's family, who must be devastated, I'm just a friend and fellow chessplayer, yet I feel like a unique part of the jigsaw of my life has gone missing.

    Rest in peace, Greg.
    Last edited by Gattaca; 16-01-2011 at 09:42 PM.

  14. #14
    CC International Master
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    I didn't know Greg particularly well and only knew him for 2 years. However in the time I knew him, I was so impressed! The following enigmatic story seems to capture what Greg was about fairly well:

    On the opening night of the 2009 City Of Melbourne Open, I was was collecting entry fees when Greg turned up to play blitz with Erik Teichmann. He had no idea that the tournament was even on! Yet surprisingly, it took almost no convincing to get him to play in the tournament, despite the fact that he had not played tournament chess in years! The publicity which his presence in the event gave our then struggling club was amazing and I will never forget it! But there is more! As well as playing in the event, Greg also forked out $150 for a Melbourne Chess Club membership - he didn't need to become a member to play in the tournament, yet generously bought one anyway. I have got no idea what made Greg decide to make a chess comeback there and then, but I am sure that it was not for the prizemoney, as he wasn't able to even play in the final 2 rounds of the event as he would be overseas at the time. I suspect that he decided to play either to help out the MCC, or because he simply wanted to play chess and have fun. Whatever the reason though, he presence in the tournament gave our club a huge amount of 'street cred' at a time when we needed it most!

    Greg also regularly frequented my favourite coffee shop - The Gypsy Bar, on Brunswick Street. I actually saw him there on New Years Eve. He was reading a book and drinking a coffee or a beer (I don't remember which) and he seemed happy and relaxed and he wished me a happy new year. I may even have seen him there since then too. He was very popular figure at the Gypsy Bar and the staff were shocked at the news of his passing. It was known that he was a strong chess player, yet he often played chess there against people who had never even played tournament chess before. These people got such a kick out of playing him!

    My favourite Greg Hjorth game is not a particularly well known one - but it is one which shows another side to his chess - that he was also an exceptional positional player! In this game, against Peter Parr in the 1980 Australian Championship, Greg played 1. d4 and then exchanged pawns with dxe5 in a Kings Indian Defence. He then went on to play a positional masterpiece, convincingly beating his opponent with the open d-file and queenside space advantage. What was so memorable about this game though, was that he made it all look so easy... The game can be seen in Ian Rogers' book "Australian Chess Into The Eighties".

    Rest in peace Greg, you will be greatly missed at Melbourne Chess Club and at the Gypsy Bar.
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  15. #15
    CC Grandmaster Tony Dowden's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Brisbane, QLD
    I didn't get to know Greg but back in the 1980s I know Kiwi players regarded as one of the most talented of a fiercesomely strong generation of young Aussie players. RIP

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