2022 Gordon Birch Memorial Tournament

Professor Gordon Birch was our friend, former Chairman of Camberley Chess Club, and stalwart of local chess over many years. He sadly died last Christmas and he is very much missed by the chess community.

To mark the anniversary, we held a Gordon Birch Memorial Tournament at our club on Thursday 15th December 2022.

It was extremely well supported with a capacity entry of 30 members and friends of Gordon.  

It was an unrated 5 round Swiss tournament, with a rapid play time limit of 10 minutes plus an increment of 3 seconds.  As a nod to Gordon’s well known and strict adherence to the Grob Opening over many years, it was mandatory for all games to begin 1. g4.

This made the whole tournament very different and exciting as players were mostly unfamiliar both as white and as black with the opening and many often strange positions that developed. In fact over the 5 rounds of 75 games there were no draws in the first 3 rounds and only one draw in the 4th and two draws in the 5th round. This shows the volatility of the Grob!

There was no entry fee, instead donations were requested, and over £200 has been raised so far for UNICEF. Donations can still be made via the donations to the club on the membership page.

Our special guest Ian Birch, one of Gordon’s sons, also entered and was kind enough to say a few words and award the prizes at the end.

Seb Twisk
The best placed Junior was Seb Twisk who received a cash prize.
Julien Shepley
The overall winner was Julien Shepley who received a Michael Basman book on the Grob.

Full results are below. Click on the image below to open up round details.

Here are some photos from the evening.

Tribute to Gordon Birch and photos can be found here.

Gordon Birch (1934 – 2021)

It was a great shock and with extreme sadness that we learnt that Gordon Birch passed away Christmas 2021.

Gordon was a member of Camberley Chess Club for around 40 years.

Gordon joined Camberley Chess Club in around 1982.

For four decades Gordon was an outstanding contributor to the club as a valuable member, team captain and Chairman for many years and always helping with arrangements and club night duties.

Gordon was a kind gentleman and was always very welcoming at his home. In 1985 he organised a simultaneous display at his home where IM Michael Basman played everyone. Gordon was the only player not to lose their game.

It was around 1985 that Gordon started playing the unusual Grob opening 1.g4 d5 2.Bg2. He had significant success over many many years playing the Grob in chess club team matches. In fact Gordon became know as an expert in the Grob.

Gordon was an Emeritus Professor, Food & Nutritional Sciences at the University of Reading until he retired a number of years ago.

In the last 7 years Gordon played nearly 15,000 games online on chess.com, mostly Grob openings. He played 3000 games in 2021 alone.

Camberley Chess Club Chairperson, Martin Wallman said “I have many fond memories of Gordon going back to 2002. He was always a caring gentleman and his contribution to Camberley Chess Club was invaluable. He will be sorely missed”

Picture taken in late October 2021, Gordon Birch is 2nd from the right