Written by David Shire
It is with great sadness that The British Chess Problem Society records the death of one of
its most illustrious members, Chris Reeves. To attempt to write anything so soon after the
passing of a man whose life has been so full and rich is not easy. Fuller tribute will be
made later in the pages of our magazine. My few words now will paint an incomplete but
Chris’s early exposure to chess problems came through D. M. Davey’s column in
The Tablet. He started solving the diagrams at the early age of 8 and he enjoyed
the perceptive comments of the solvers as much as the problems themselves. With this
essential background he tried his hand at composition when he was 21. In this he was
encouraged by the “modern” #2 work being undertaken at the time by Barry
Barnes, Michael Lipton and John Rice. Chris was never a prolific composer; in the 1960s he
composed about 70 problems and has passed the century marker only in recent times. One
reason for this was that he always set himself very difficult tasks; he once described
worthwhile #2 composition as the “art of the almost impossible”. The technique,
imagination and determination he showed in his work were quite extraordinary. The example
below is a good illustration.
1st Prize, British Chess Magazine, 1970
Mate in 2
1.Sc~? (>2.d4) Bxe3! 1.Scd4!? (>2.Rxf5) hxg6!
1.K~? (>2.Rxf5) hxg6! 1.Ke7!? (>2.Qxd6) Rxc6!
1.Se~? (>2.Qxd6) Rxc6! 1.Sc5!? (>2.d4) Bxe3!
Cyclic white threat correction achieved in style
in 1970! The play is completed by two further
corrections by the wSe6.
1.Sed4!? (2.Qxd6) Rxc5 2.Sxc6 but 1...Sc5! (2.Qc3?)
Chris trained for the priesthood before making a professional switch to child psychotherapy
and a personal switch to marriage and family life. He was a wonderful man and a friend to
so many of us. He loved people and he enjoyed the interaction with them. Never was this
more apparent than in his role as editor of the #2 column. He saw his role as one of trying
to help a struggling contributor to find the setting with which his correspondent was
content. When I returned to #2 composition I too was a beneficiary of this attention. His
secret was the knack of asking the most searching questions; he would have made an
excellent teacher. Instead he devoted himself to helping emotionally disturbed children. He
was professionally active until the end; only a couple of months ago he returned from a
demanding round of lectures and workshops in Brazil.
Chris gave unstintingly to others; his was a life so very well lived. He will be missed by
many and remembered with great affection. Our loss is as nothing to that of his wife,
Claire, and their daughters. We offer them our heartfelt sympathy.
Christopher Reeves at the PCCC meeting at Wageningen, The Netherlands, in 2006.