View Full Version : John Sutherland 1968-2016

12-10-2016, 11:47 AM
A number of members of this forum knew John, who died on Monday after a brief illness. John's final club game last month completed his victory in the 2016 Otago Chess Club Championship, winning the title for the ninth time. His funeral is this Friday at Hope & Sons Dunedin.

12-10-2016, 07:39 PM
Very sad news. John was a very strong player, friendly person and will be greatly missed by many. RIP John.

13-10-2016, 07:16 AM
Yes a genial, unassuming man. here is a photo (https://www.flickr.com/photos/simonlyall/8374059707/in/album-72157632503714475/) of him up against kiwi legend FM Ewen Green in the 2013 NZ Lightening Championship in Wellington.

13-10-2016, 03:41 PM
Sad news. John's final NZCF ratings are 2235 standard, 21st on the ranking list and 2047 rapid, 39th on the ranking list. It will seem strange not to see John's name in the list of players for future Otago tournaments.

14-10-2016, 07:54 AM
There is an obituary and tribute page up at http://www.tributes.co.nz/ViewMyTribute.aspx?id=11872.

15-10-2016, 02:51 AM
Yes a genial, unassuming man. here is a photo (https://www.flickr.com/photos/simonlyall/8374059707/in/album-72157632503714475/) of him up against kiwi legend FM Ewen Green in the 2013 NZ Lightening Championship in Wellington.

Hi position didn't look good there, and Green is a very good lightning player (probably helps because he is also a time trouble addict). Here are a couple of good scalps against people who played in the strong 12-player round robin NZ Champs a few times:

[Event "107th New Zealand Ch"]
[Site "Auckland, NZ"]
[Date "2000.01.03"]
[EventDate "28th December to 11th January"]
[Round "6"]
[Result "0-1"]
[White "J Nigel Metge"]
[Black "John Sutherland"]
[ECO "A53"]
[WhiteElo "2160"]
[BlackElo "2055"]
[PlyCount "54"]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 d6 3.Nc3 c6 4.e4 e5 5.Be2 Be7 6.Nf3 Qc7 7.h3 a6
8.O-O O-O 9.a4 a5 10.Be3 Re8 11.Qd2 Na6 12.Rad1 Bf8 13.Bg5 Nd7
14.Rfe1 exd4 15.Nxd4 Nac5 16.Bf1 Ne6 17.Be3 Ndc5 18.Nf5 Nb3
19.Qc2 Nec5 20.Ng3 Be6 21.f4 f6 22.Qf2 Qb6 23.Nh5 Bf7 24.Qe2
Qb4 25.Bd4 Nxd4 26.Rxd4 Nb3 27.Qg4 Bxh5 0-1

[Event "NZL-chB"]
[Site "New Zeaeland"]
[Date "1992.??.??"]
[EventDate "?"]
[Round "10"]
[Result "1-0"]
[White "John Sutherland"]
[Black "Arthur Pomeroy"]
[ECO "A68"]
[WhiteElo "?"]
[BlackElo "?"]
[PlyCount "51"]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.f4 O-O 6.Nf3 c5 7.d5 e6
8.Be2 exd5 9.cxd5 Bg4 10.O-O Nbd7 11.Re1 Re8 12.h3 Bxf3
13.Bxf3 c4 14.Be3 Qa5 15.Qc2 Nc5 16.g3 Nd3 17.Re2 Nd7 18.Nd1
b5 19.Bd2 Qb6+ 20.Kh2 h5 21.Rb1 h4 22.Bc3 hxg3+ 23.Kxg3 Bh6
24.Bd2 Nf6 25.Nf2 Qxf2+ 26.Rxf2 1-0

Here is a game against one of Dunedin's late veterans, who also had a chess column at one point:

[Event "Otago Senior Ch"]
[Site "Dunedin, NZ"]
[Date "1997.??.??"]
[EventDate "?"]
[Round "?"]
[Result "1-0"]
[White "John Sutherland"]
[Black "Malcolm Foord"]
[ECO "D36"]
[WhiteElo "?"]
[BlackElo "?"]
[PlyCount "93"]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 exd5 5.Bg5 c6 6.Qc2 Be7 7.e3
Nbd7 8.Bd3 h6 9.Bh4 Qb6 10.Nf3 c5 11.dxc5 Nxc5 12.Bxf6 Bxf6
13.Nxd5 Qa5+ 14.b4 Nxd3+ 15.Qxd3 Qd8 16.Rc1 O-O 17.Nxf6+ Qxf6
18.Nd4 Rd8 19.Qb3 Bd7 20.O-O Qg6 21.Kh1 Rac8 22.b5 Re8 23.Qd5
Be6 24.Qxb7 Rb8 25.Qa6 Rb6 26.Qxa7 Bd5 27.f3 Ra8 28.Qc7 Rxa2
29.Qg3 Qd3 30.Qe5 Qd2 31.Rg1 Rg6 32.Qf5 Be6 33.Nxe6 Ra8 34.Nf4
Rf6 35.Qd5 Qa5 36.Rc6 Rd8 37.Qc4 Qd2 38.Rxf6 gxf6 39.Qb3 Re8
40.Nd5 Rd8 41.e4 f5 42.Ne7+ Kf8 43.Nxf5 Rd3 44.Qa4 Kg8 45.b6
Qf4 46.Qe8+ Kh7 47.Qxf7+ 1-0

A brevity in a strong tourney: his opponent was capable of giant killing, but finding one N lost, he threw away another right afterwards.
[Event "NZ Reserve Ch"]
[Site "Wanganui, NZ"]
[Date "1995.??.??"]
[EventDate "?"]
[Round "11"]
[Result "1-0"]
[White "John Sutherland"]
[Black "Prince Vetharaniam"]
[ECO "A43"]
[WhiteElo "?"]
[BlackElo "?"]
[PlyCount "29"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 c5 3. d5 g6 4. Nc3 d6 5. e4 Nbd7 6. Bg5 Bg7
7. Nd2 a6 8. a4 Ne5 9. f4 Bg4 10. Be2 Bxe2 11. Qxe2 Neg4
12. e5 dxe5 13. fxe5 Nxd5 14. Qxg4 Ne3 15. Bxe3 1-0

Bill Forster
16-10-2016, 09:25 AM
This is really sad news. I didn't know John well, and only played him once (curiously outside NZ, at the SIO a few years back). He seemed like the kind of man I like and respect, a potential friend if life had taken a different path. Also, it has to be said he seemed very youthful. I am surprised to see from his date of birth that he was as old as he was - but still far too young for this. I have had my own "battle" (if that's the right word) with cancer in the last year. (I may be making an unwarranted assumption). It looks as if I am going to be okay, although one of the funny things about cancer is that you never really can be sure. As my surgeon says, you pull out a weed, but it can come back in multiple places later. The lesson is; Those of us who are middle-aged we're basically in the "death zone" whether we recognise it or not - so make the most of your time. Don't waste it in pointless meetings and other things that bring no joy to anyone.

Bill Forster
05-11-2016, 07:47 AM
My apologies, it turns out that my unwarranted assumption was quite wrong. Often "a long illness" is a euphemism for cancer, and somewhat less frequently "a short illness". But not in this case as a few people have mentioned to me offline. Of course my main point is unaffected. Stephen Lukey is working on finding a remarkable win by John (over Stephen) in his records for publication in the NZ Chess Magazine.

Tony Dowden
07-10-2017, 10:27 PM
John Lachlan Sutherland passed away very suddenly one year ago (Oct 10 on Tuesday is the actual anniversary). I didn't post last year because at the time my father was in his final illness and passed away soon after - so this post (with considerable help from Tony Love) is my tribute to him.

I knew John when he was young teenager in the early 1980's and then again when I was back in Dunedin when John was in his late 30's. I remember he stood out as a very serious and quiet junior chess player who would spend a great deal of time building up menacing positions. John was always a very handy player but, let's be honest, his clock handling was always terrible! I remember so many times being transfixed as, on the old analog clocks, the flag would lift and John would still sit there thinking and thinking and not showing any sign of moving!

As I said, John was a very handy player. He won the Otago Championship a very impressive nine times - in 1995, 1997, 1999, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2014 and 2016. On the last occasion his title was confirmed only several days before he passed away. My research indicates that only Bob Rasa and Graham Haase achieved more Otago titles (ten) but, given that John competed in the era of several Olympiad players (e.g. Love, Martin & Sutton), his achievement is enviable. John competed in the NZ Championship a few times but I suspect he didn't travel well. Certainly one or two of my easiest games against him were 'away' games.

John was an civil engineer. He studied at Canterbury University and, apart from this period in Christchurch and a later stint in the UK, he lived his whole life in Dunedin.

John was introverted, gentle and kind. He was immensely dependable. He served on the Otago Chess Club Committee for many years including the role of Treasurer for at least two long stints. John had a small circle of close friends. One was my old mate Tony Love, who knew him much better than I did, so I'm pleased that Tony has kindly given me permission to reproduce his words from John's funeral below. Note, I've added edits in square brackets.


Eulogy by Tony Love

This is just the third time I’ve spoken at a funeral. The other times were for my mum, whom I loved very much, and for my grandma, whom I adored. So, I don’t just do it for anyone.

I know the idea at funerals is to say nice things about the deceased, and it makes sense, I get it. But I have been at funerals when I’ve been listening to all these lovely stories and I’ve thought: “Am I at the right funeral?” You’re probably wondering where I’m going with this. My point is that I couldn’t say a bad word about John even if I wanted to. He was a kind, decent, caring, loyal, gentle, quiet and thoroughly likeable human being. Helen sent me a text recently saying he was the best. A chess-playing friend on Facebook said he was a man without an unkind bone in his body and I’ve lost count of the number of people who’ve used the word lovely about him. I think I’d sum it up by saying he was one of the good guys.

Actually, I have to admit I did finally think of a minor flaw in John’s character. He had any number of admirable qualities but punctuality sure wasn’t one of them.

I first met John in 1982 when he joined the [Otago] Chess Club when he was 13. I was 21 and eight years is a hell of a lot at those two ages, so it took a while for him to appear on my radar. As he improved, I began to take a bit more notice but it was at the New Zealand Championships in Auckland in 1992-93 that we became mates. At the end of the day’s play, a group of us would have a few drinks, pretty much every day, and in that group were myself and John. We found out that not only did we both love chess but also a drink or two, sport and, very definitely, horse racing.

Later that year, John and I went to the Asian Team Championships in Malaysia as part of the New Zealand team. It was John’s first time out of the country and he’d bought himself one of those bum bags for his passport, money etc. Anyway, we’re on the flight and he comes back from the toilet, sits down and exclaims: “Oh Damn”. I ask what the problem is and he says “I’ve left that bag in the toilet”.

He got it back all right but while John and I landed safely in Kuala Lumpur, John’s bags didn’t. Anyway, I lent him some clothes until he got them back. Trouble is, after a big night out at the Party Box nightclub (the toilets were delightfully named His Piss Box and Her Piss Box) his very intoxicated room-mate mistook a bundle of John’s clothes at the foot of his bed for a toilet.

Shortly after that, we played in the Queen’s Birthday tournament in Invercargill. My grandma was in hospital at the time and before the last round – in which I was to play John – I got word that she’d died. So, John and I start playing and we’d only played three or four moves when John offered me a draw. I turned him down and played for another three hours or so and eventually it was a draw. I asked him why he’d offered a draw so early on and he told me that he thought I might not have been in the mood for chess. That was John.

So by now John and I are firm mates and have taken to going out for a few drinks every Friday – initially the Cook [Captain Cook Tavern]. When I started at the ODT [Otago Daily Times] in 1998, which meant working most Friday nights, we switched to Saturdays.

Our next overseas adventure was to Melbourne for the Australian Champs in 1997-98. The tournament started on December 27 but John and I flew over on Christmas Day so we could take in the Boxing Day test. Australia was playing South Africa. It was a stinking hot day and the big screens were all displaying these signs UV (as in U V) been Warned (as in Shane Warne). John had sunglasses and a hat but being fair ... The next days, he was a mess. His face! There was puss and yuk ... I remember we walked into the chemist and she asked him if he’d been out in the sun.

John and I also travelled twice to the Gold Coast (loved the rides during the afternoon and the bars at night) and then in 2002 to the US; Vegas and San Fran. I remember John’s mum was at Dunedin airport and maybe Jean, I can’t remember. Anyway, John tells me he’s heard this travel tip which is to write down the number of your passport and give it to someone you rely on. In this case, his mum. So he goes off to do that. We land in Christchurch and are making our way for our flight to Auckland when John is paged. We head on over and John is informed that his passport has been handed in back in Dunedin. He’d put it down when he was writing down the number and left it behind. They would fly it to Auckland for him but not in time for the flight to LA. He gets put on a later flight at no extra charge but I have to fly the 12 hours to LA by myself.

John and I were joined in Las Vegas by another friend, Pete. The city was really made for the three of us. John was a mad gambler and the gambling subsidise the boozes – that’s me – and the food – that’s Pete. I remember one time walking back to our motel with John at 7, maybe 8, in the morning. The sun was shining and Pete had left us hours earlier. We weren’t far from our motel when we walked past one last casino. We looked at each other and John said I wouldn’t mind one last bet and I said I could go another drink.

So, as I said, Friday was our night out initially but if there were trots at Forbury Park on a Saturday night then we’d never miss. I can remember – and more than once – being at the races and asking John how he was going on the punt and he said: “I’m having an absolute shocker but I just won $120 on the pokies”.

For three or four years, Wednesday also became a big night for us - quizzing at the Shiel Hill Tavern. I can’t remember why we went the first time but we finished fourth. There were money prizes for the top three but fourth was free entry the following week, so we went back. And back. And back. It didn’t take us too long to own that quiz. There were six in a team but the core four were John, me, Joss and Mary. In fact, the four of won it by ourselves various times. I remember the night we got 99 and I complained about the point we lost – we’d won by 10 points but ...

John and I even kept in touch when he was in the UK for a few years. In fact, he phoned me most Sunday nights after I’d finished work. We’d chat for half an hour and then play chess for a couple of hours. I pretty much gave up competitive chess when I started at the ODT but John and I, and often, another good mate Bill [Petch], would still have regular lightning chess sessions. I have to admit it’s been a while since our most recent one. Perhaps because I wasn’t winning any more.

Right, I’ll wrap this up. I was very privileged to be able to visit John in ICU. Thank you Helen and Jean. I was very privileged to know John and count him as a very dear friend whom I valued and loved. If I could compare John to a chess piece, he was a white knight.