Richard Arnold “Dick” Collins, 1944-2020 RIP

It is with sadness that we report the death of Richard “Dick” Collins, who sadly passed away on the 7th of April. Several tributes have come in for Dick Collins as he was more affectionately known.

Dick Collins – Board One for Lancashire U150 Winners 2007.
Dick is standing up behind Bill in the blue and red t-shirt

Dick was nothing but helpful and cheerful with county teams and junior congresses (in Lancaster) over the years until his illness a few years back prevented any further participation.

Despite his grade going down, he fought like a tiger for both the u180 and u160’s county teams (if he wasn’t prebooked on one of his walking weekends) and was very often the man who pulled a full point out of the bag when I told him we needed a win for the team to have a chance – it seemed to motivate the challenge in him.

A really thoughtful gentleman with a sharp intellect hidden behind his friendly conversation.

Bill O’Rourke, President, Lancashire Chess Association

It is with great sadness that we report the unexpected death of Dick Collins on Tuesday 7th April 2020, reportedly of a heart attack. Dick had an association with our club going back many decades, and though he had played for Morecambe in team competitions in recent years, he also retained his membership of LCC and was a familiar sight to all of our members. Dick was a mainstay of chess locally and more widely in the NW through his play for Lancashire in county chess, and Manchester Manticores in the 4NCL league. I am reliably informed that in the ’70s and ’80s Dick was one of the strongest players in the NW, playing off a peak grading in excess of 200, and though this had dropped a good deal in recent years, he remained a formidable and competitive opponent to all but the very strongest. No doubt there will be fuller and more detailed tributes to Dick appearing in many places over the weeks to come, but we wish to pay our own tribute here to a fine player, a valued and popular member of LCC, and a real gentleman.

Barry Hymer, Secretary, Lancaster Chess Club

We recently had some very sad news about Dick Collins, who died recently following a suspected heart attack.  He had had heart-related medical problems for some time but even so his passing away was quite unexpected.

I myself knew Dick on two counts, because as well as being a chess player he was also a colleague of my father’s (along with the late Walter Fairbairn) as a lecturer in Lancaster University’s physics department.  Dick had been a very active chess player going right back to the 1960s.  I recall that he played for Middlesex in his early days, if I remember rightly including a match of 40-odd boards in the cafĂ© of the John Lewis store in Oxford Street, London (at a time when the store wasn’t open on Sundays).  In the 1980s, he largely dropped out of chess for some years to concentrate on his other main pastime, orienteering (a combination of running and direction finding).   But once he retired as a full-time lecturer, he returned to chess with great enthusiasm, while continuing his orienteering and part-time university work.

Mark Whitehead notes that Dick’s last games for 4NCL were on 29th February/1st March for the Manticores first team.  For my part, I had been looking forward to a new career of my own – Dick’s openings coach.  We were next to each other on the Saturday at 4NCL and he saw me play the Hungarian Defence (1 e4 e5, 2 Nf3 Nc6, 3 Bc4 Be7), which he’d not seen before, and although I eventually lost that game the opening was reasonably successful.  It obviously made an impression on Dick and so on the Sunday, on the spur of the moment, Dick played the opening himself in his own game.  A gritty, solid manoeuvring game ensued which was eventually drawn.  A very creditable contribution for his final Manticores game and a very pleasant memory for me of the last time I saw him.

John Lyth, Chairman, Morecambe Chess Club

A couple of games from Dick Collins, the first one is from 1970. Dick was playing for Lancaster University against York University, another battle of the roses. The second game features the game John mentions, his last game played in the 4NCL, playing for the Manchester Manticores against the Barnet Knights.