Simon Webb

Author of 'Chess for Tigers' and Grandmaster of Correspondence Chess
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The Independent Online

Simon Webb was a rare creature among top-class chess players: a modest and charming person, generally liked by even his most bitter opponents.

Simon Webb, chess player: born London 10 June 1949; married (one son, one daughter); died Stockholm 14 March 2005.

Simon Webb was a rare creature among top-class chess players: a modest and charming person, generally liked by even his most bitter opponents.

Born in London in 1949, he learned chess at the age of seven, and won the British Under-18 championship in 1966. Selected to represent England in the European Junior Championship the same year, he finished in a highly creditable fourth place. He was a regular member of British teams in the late 1960s and early 1970s, but never quite established himself as one of the leading half-dozen players. His style was fluent and practical rather than deeply strategic and, while effective against weaker opposition, he tended to come unstuck against the very best. Despite his limitations, he won small tournaments in Hamburg and Athens in 1977 which gained him the International Master title.

Around this time, he was writing the highly successful Chess for Tigers, first published in 1978 and scarcely out of print ever since. The title seemed strange to those who knew the author. His benign nature marked him out as one of the least tigerish of all top players, yet the book was full of good practical advice on how to win games, rather than how to play well in an objective sense.

In 1981 he discovered correspondence chess, which suited his mild temperament perfectly. With a day or two to ponder each move, which is then posted to the opponent, he found the brand of chess best suited to his temperament. In 1983, he gained the Grandmaster title for Correspondence Chess, a title held even now by only 13 Britons, and was, at the time of his death, still Britain's highest-rated Correspondence Grandmaster. He also represented England at bridge, partnering his younger brother Roger.

The achievement that must have given him greatest satisfaction was his role in the British team's success in the 9th Correspondence Chess Olympiad, which ended in 1987. Scoring six points from his nine games that had begun almost five years earlier, Webb's score helped the team to the gold medals ahead of West Germany and the Soviet Union.

Simon Webb was working as a quality control manager in Stockholm, where he had been living for 30 years. Reports indicate that he was stabbed by his 25-year-old son, who had previously served a prison term for drug dealing. The son has been charged with his father's murder.

William Hartston

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