Tom Clarke

Bangor Chess Club tribute to Tom Clarke

It was with deep sadness and a profound sense of loss when Bangor Chess Club learned the death of Tom Clarke. For now our first thoughts are with his wife and family and to them we extend our deepest sympathies.

Tom had been ill for some time and, typical of the man, showed great courage in battling his illness. Indeed he remained an active chess player up until last February playing league chess for his newly adopted Averdale, a team from Wales after his move there with his new wife.

As a chess player Tom was a formidable opponent and this was only eclipsed by his kindness and generosity to everyone who new or were fortunate enough to play him. In the few defeats he did suffer at he hands of lesser players Tom was always magnanimous and quick to commend his opponent. In victory he was just the same and would go through games with his opponents patiently trying to show them where they faltered. Indeed analysing a game of chess with Tom was a true joy.

On a domestic level Tom’s skill at the board saw him win three Senior Ulster Chess Championships and multiple local senior titles including the Williamson Shield no less than six times. But it was at international level where Tom’s prowess was rewarded where he played for Ireland in two separate Chess Olympiads in 1988 and 1992 and also in the 1989 European Team Championships. His most famous victory of that time came against the formidable Hungarian Grandmaster Istvan Csom, a player who outranked him in excess 0f 300 elo points. I clearly remember Tom recalling the whole experience to me and how the game lasted for nearly seven hours and ended on the fortieth move with a warm handshake from his great opponent. Both players totally shattered from the effort.

In Tom’s death, Ulster Chess has lost a true stalwart and Bangor Chess Club a true friend and supporter. And so in recognition club secretary Owen Wilson fittingly called for a minute silence to pay tribute to his memory last Thursday evening. Tom’s loss will be felt by all who knew him in Ulster Chess and finding someone just like him again will be hard. As far as Bangor Chess Club goes, Tom will always be remembered with great affection and respect and will never to be forgotten.

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