Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Brian Eley, the only British Chess Champion to appear on Crimewatch, is dead

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Brian Eley, a former British Chess Champion who skipped bail in 1991 while charged with sexual offences against underage boys, died in Amsterdam in April.

He was, as the leading English grandmaster John Nunn once observed, the only British Chess Champion to appear on Crimewatch.

Eley had acted as non-playing captain to a number of English junior teams, but was not asked to fulfil this role after 1980 because he had encouraged his players to turn up late for their games and generally behave rudely.

As some young players had complained about his sexual advances to the British Chess Federation the year before, the suspicion is that the behaviour of his team was used as an excuse for getting rid of him without having to deal with the more serious problem.

One mystery is why Eley was never arrested. In the chess world "everyone knew" that he had fled to Amsterdam and now and then sightings of him there were reported.

There is a growing thread about Eley on the English Chess Forum, with many posts suggesting the chess authorities knew he was doing more with boys than teach them the rudiments of rook and pawn endings.

And Fiona Pitt-Keithly, partner of grandmaster Jim Plaskett, who knows some of the young players who complained about Eley in 1979, wrote about the affair before his death, suggesting that no one was trying too hard to find him.

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