Dr Richard J Palmer MBE

Richard Palmer

We are deeply saddened to report that our Life Vice-President Richard Palmer passed away peacefully in Cardiff University Hospital on Christmas Day after a recurrence of the leukaemia which had first afflicted him in late 2018. He had been in Cardiff for trials of a new drug and, being a scientist, he was keen to help in the development of something that may help others in the future.

He had recovered to play throughout the truncated 2019-20 season but of course he will be especially remembered at the club for having been our highly efficient secretary for 26 years from 1992 until 2018. But this quiet gentleman had other talents that many of us never knew about.

Richard grew up in Market Bosworth and was only 16 when he won a place to study theoretical physics at Oxford, where he obtained his doctorate. But not before he had started a life-long support of his local football team, Leicester City.

He then spent his entire working life with the Institute of Physics publishing division in Bristol. He was Editor of the Solid State Physics journal and was awarded an MBE in 2006 for services to Physics, about which he modestly kept rather quiet.

Richard had always followed other cerebral pastimes along with chess, having played bridge for his college and been for many years an expert crossword compiler. He was a much respected and admired setter across the whole of the crossword world. He compiled over 200 puzzles for the Telegraph, many on a Saturday and they were always enjoyable and contained a nice touch of humour. A typical comment: “One of the true greats. I have always loved his work, and relished the challenges that his sometimes astonishing clues set.”

Above all, we knew Richard as an outstanding club man. One of our captains wrote: “He was always willing to step in if I needed him, even at the last minute.” A member of another club recalls: “I played Richard several times and remember him as one of the quiet and decent men at D&F.” Richard won the Jack Milton Cup in 1988 and was a stalwart of various teams over the years. We pulled his leg a bit about not being available if Bristol Rovers were playing at home but it was only fair that he should be allowed to follow them as it is rather a long way to Leicester.

He had been Editor of the Bristol Chess Times for another long stint, producing 41 issues over a seven year period starting in 1985. Another recollection: “Back then, we used to look forward to the BCT coming through the letterbox to find out how our teams were doing. The BCT was an essential source of news and Richard put a lot of effort in to produce each issue, all without computer assistance. He did all this in his usual quiet and modest way."

Seventeen of Richard's games can be found on the club website and here is one of his most memorable efforts from October 2017, when he beat a player graded some forty points higher. And one which showed his fighting spirit from what turned out to be the Club's last match before lockdown. Evidently he liked playing against South Bristol.

Iain Bourne vs Richard Palmer

Richard will be buried at the Memorial Woodlands at Earthcott Green but, of course, because of Covid we shall not be able to attend as we would have liked. To summarise the comments of the members of his team: "He was a complete gentleman and sharing his company at the club was always a pleasure." We shall greatly miss one who did so much for the club over many years and extend our sincere condolences to his wife Marilyn and family.

David Neagle vs Richard Palmer