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  1. #1
    CC FIDE Master
    Join Date
    Jan 2017

    John Gray (1944-2020)

    As the link to the Parramatta Bridge Club site is slow to respond, I have copied their report below:

    "3/18/20 : John Gray - Rest in Peace

    The Parramatta Bridge Club is sad to note the passing of John Gray at
    five minutes past midnight on Tuesday 17 March 2020 after a long
    illness. John was an enthusiastic member of the club who never tired of
    searching for new ways to improve his bridge game. John was extremely
    knowledgeable in many areas particularly in the field of English and
    Old Norse languages. His other interests included a love of history and
    classical music. This made for interesting conversations in the
    interval between bridge hands. John was also a fine chess player and
    was, at one stage, Chess Champion of Queensland. John was very fond of
    the Parramatta Bridge Club and his friends in the club and he chose the
    club as his home club despite living in Randwick. In the last two
    years, John continued to play bridge although he was very ill and his
    stamina was failing. He will be remembered as a keen student of the
    game of bridge, a fine chess player, a fierce competitor, an
    interesting conversationalist and a scholar. John is greatly missed by
    his devoted wife Denese."

    I first met John when the late Adrian Harding and I made the journey to Townsville from Rockhampton by car for the North Queensland Championships in 1978.

    I got to know him better on moving to Townsville in 1981. He was by far the strongest player as well as being the prime mover and shaker at the Townsville Club. He posted out the “Northern Newsletter” detailing the activities of the club. I remember being roped into the lengthy task of folding the newsletters and putting them into envelopes.

    Parting with the money to subscribe to his newsletter gave you membership of the Chess Association of Queensland. His theory, derived from some American guru he had known, was that for every hundred letters you sent out you would get a certain few positive responses. All you had to do was keep sending out the newsletters and your readership would grow.

    Along with his readership, the CAQ membership grew alarmingly and since the voting power of a club at CAQ meetings depended on how many CAQ members the club had, then the voting power of “our man in Brisbane” the late Leo Wilkinson, grew such that he alone could determine the outcome of any vote. I was told that after a lengthy debate over an issue raised at a CAQ meeting, the assembled delegates would turn as one in Leo’s direction to await his verdict.

    John somehow managed to obtain the sponsorship for the National STD Chess Championship organized by Townsville, from Novag Chess Computers. Teams of eight players competed via an STD telephone hookup. The event was won by the Waverley Chess Club.

    I got the impression that John and Denese would much prefer a more cosmopolitan life in Sydney but both were tied to Townsville by their jobs. John taught English and Icelandic studies at James Cook University and Denese had a senior position in the administration of James Cook.

    I left Townsville in 1984 and lost contact with John. I was glad to learn from the Bridge Club that John and Denese made it back to Sydney in retirement. It was a privilege to have known him.
    Last edited by blackbishop; 23-03-2020 at 07:06 PM.

  2. #2
    CC Grandmaster
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    I never met John, but I believe that the AGM at which the CAQ changed the rules to limit membership to only one club was the first one I attended. I don't believe he was ever Qld Champion, however. RIP.

    I'm sure Kevin will move the report of his death to Australian Chess.

  3. #3
    CC Candidate Master
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    I met John Gray during the Australia Open in Sydney in 1982.

    He gave me a very good tip. He said how Alekhine was an expert at converting one advantage into another. Over the next year, I implemented this
    idea and my rating jumped 200 points to number 8 in the country.

    He told the story of a junior who lost his temper and kicked another junior in the stomach. He was too frightened to tell anyone, then the junior died.
    For coaching contact Bill Jordan at
    My Chess ebooks and paperbacks can be found at Amazon Author Central
    and my YouTube channel is

  4. #4
    CC FIDE Master
    Join Date
    Jan 2017

    CHESS A whirlwind in the north by Terry Shaw.

    The article below appeared in The Bulletin, September 1982.

    Last edited by blackbishop; 26-03-2020 at 12:59 PM.

  5. #5
    CC FIDE Master
    Join Date
    Jan 2017

    Funeral Arrangements

    From the Parramatta Bridge Club:

    The funeral will be at 11:00 am on Thursday 26 March 2020 in the South Chapel at the Eastern Suburbs Memorial Gardens. Please note that this timing differs from that advertised earlier in the newspaper. A change was made to provide a larger chapel to address coronavirus precautions.

    Due to the stringent controls implemented for the coronavirus by the Government, attendance at funerals has been further restricted and it would be better for John’s bridge friends not to attend his funeral. The club’s condolences have been passed on to his wife, Denese, who was comforted by this support.
    Last edited by blackbishop; 26-03-2020 at 05:07 PM.

  6. #6
    CC Rookie
    Join Date
    Mar 2020
    John Gray was a force of nature.

    I was a junior member of the Rockhampton Chess Club, but we noticed something was afoot up north. I remember his newsletters. I think I actually joined the Townsville club, even though I was a kid with no real money to hand, just because of the newsletters.

    Those tournaments up north. I remember getting the train to Townsville one year to play in a tournament he organised. Somehow travelled up and back alone, and even went over to Magnetic Island alone on a lay day afterward, all of age 15-16.

    Whether that or another year, I remember drawing against a chap called Greg Hjorth in the first round of the Townsville tournament. (Greg was not much pleased by this, but had run a Petrov against me, and time limits in those days actually allowed the weaker player to think.)

    It was an exciting era in the North. We ran an annual tournament in Rocky, as did Mackay. I remember being billeted in Mackay by the late Stan Long Hong, whose secret talent was that he was a fantastic chef. Prize billet. I remember sitting on Stan's verandah playing chess, and Stan was cooking us all Scotch eggs for breakfast - Yum! Alain Pardoen was playing a few of us simultaneous blindfold. Clear as yesterday. I was just some kid from Rocky, who'd cadged a lift to Mackay to be beaten by the guns from the South.

    Time limits meant the third round of a weekender (on day one) could pretty much start any time, and could end past midnight. But you pack in your chess, when you're living up north and the guns are only coming to town once a year.

  7. #7
    CC Candidate Master
    Join Date
    May 2020

    Eulogy by Denese Gray

    John Gray's funeral was held on Thursday 26 March 2020 when the Corona Virus restrictions were at their peak.

    John’s wife, Denese writes:

    ”We were able to have only seven people present, because the 10 allowed by the NSW Government had to include the celebrant, the funeral director, and the crematorium director. I was reduced the day before the funeral to telephoning people to ask them not to attend - so embarrassing. I had to do the Eulogy myself because none of the people I had thought to ask could attend because of travel restrictions. The Eulogy will tell you something of John's early life and of his interactions with Cecil Purdy.”


  8. #8
    CC FIDE Master
    Join Date
    Jan 2017

    John Gray and Friends Around the Year 1980


    Top left to right are Leo Wilkinson, Kerry Corker and Steve Clarry

    In front are Chris van Rooy and John Gray.
    Last edited by blackbishop; 05-10-2020 at 05:24 PM.

  9. #9
    CC Grandmaster Adamski's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Penrith, NSW
    Very sad news. RIP, John.
    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.

    Favorite movie line: Girl friend Cathy to Jack Ryan in "Sum of all Fears". "What kind of emergency does an historian have?".

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