AN international chess champion, who founded Bradford’s Chesstival in the Park, has died

Winston Williams, 62, was a well-known West Yorkshire chess player and junior coach. He was a FIDE (International Chess Federation) Candidate Master, played with distinction for Singapore in the 1980s and won two international titles in Chinese Chess.

Ihor Lewyk, organiser of Bradford and District Chess Association, and Tim Wall, who played on a chess team with Winston, said his death, aged 62, on July 29 has “shocked the chess community”.

This is their tribute to Winston: “The idea for ‘Chesstival’ came from Winston, who proposed the idea of a public festival in Centenary Square to the Bradford and District Chess Association. He was one of the main organisers of Chesstival, first held in 2013, which featured exhibition tournaments, open-air chess games and simuls by titled players including GM Gawain Jones, WIM Sue Maroroa, and IMs Malcolm Pein. Bradford’s chess scene gained many new players as a result of these events.

Winston’s chess activities in West Yorkshire were just one chapter of a varied career, which included him playing for the Singapore national team, winning international titles in Chinese Chess (Xiangqi).

Winston was born in London and moved with his family to Singapore. By the age of 15 he was a strong junior chess player, representing the Anglo-Chinese School as it won the Singaporean National Schools Team Championships for the first of three consecutive years. In 1974 he drew with the legendary GM Paul Keres in a 30-board simul, and later that year beat Australian master Max Fuller in a simul against the Singaporean junior squad. The following year he was one of four players to defeat GM Alexander Kotov in a 16-board simul.

Chess took a back seat as Winston did National Service, then studied at university in West Germany. On his return to Singapore, he joined the Singaporean National Police Force, and became an Inspector.

It was in the 1980s that he achieved his biggest successes as a player, in 1987 playing for Singapore in the Asian Team Championships, finishing 7th in the Singapore National Championships. Winston also enjoyed success in Chinese Chess, winning the non-Chinese section in the 1st Xiangqi World Championship in Singapore in 1990 then defending his title in China the following year. He was co-author of the book Chinese Chess for Beginners.

Winston is remembered fondly in the Singaporean chess community. FM Wong Foong Yin said: “He was an ‘old boy’ of the Anglo-Chinese School and came back to help out his juniors with sparring matches. I got to play some games with him.”

IM Chan Peng Kong, who played Winston when he was with Singapore Police, said: “I remember how he played with a pistol strapped to his ankle."

Winston moved to Yorkshire in 2003 and joined Bingley Chess Club. His love of the game and amiable personality soon had lots of people asking for him to play for their clubs. He played in Bradford, Calderdale and Leeds leagues and for a number of years ran Bradford League competitions, as well as helping at the Bradford Congress and British Rapidplay in Leeds. He was a tutor in local schools for the Chess in Schools and Communities charity and ran a Saturday morning children’s chess club at the Reginald Centre in Leeds.

Bradford players recall that Winston always created an interesting game and was willing to go over games with opponents and share his insightful, quirky thoughts.

A thoroughly lovely chap whose passion for chess was contagious. He was well loved in local leagues and will be greatly missed.”