Photo: Brendan O'Gorman
It is with sadness that I note Keith Woodhouse’s death from cancer. Keith was a member of Royston Chess Club and a good friend. We connected due to our both being members of a correspondence chess network who happened to live in the same village. Keith originally introduced me to Royston Chess Club.
For many years most of our Friday nights have consisted of trying to decipher and analyse our games round one or other of our houses, alongside 25 minutes/person games in the time remaining. Keith lost more than his fair share of these quick games due to running out of time more often than not.
During the summer months we switched to Scrabble and Upwords, where Keith tended to get his revenge.
Deciphering Keith’s games was always an entertaining (and frustrating) prospect: he used a blend of descriptive and algebraic notation; his ‘c’ often looked like an ‘e’ and if a square could be reached by both rooks or both knights it wasn’t always obvious which way he’d proceeded. There were multiple games that we had to give up on trying to recreate. But his games were seldom dull.
He was an attacking player and didn’t like retreating, even when it was probably in his best interests. This occasionally led to his downfall and he would get pessimistic when forced to go on the defensive. He was, in person, straightforward, intelligent and practical and always had time for his opponents and club-mates alike. Despite this, he was occasionally frustrated by his own play, but this usually only surfaced on the way home after a match or tournament.
He was well-known and liked throughout the Herts Chess Association, judging by the number of people who have asked after him during his recent absences. He leaves behind a wife and three daughters.
Royston Chess Club
For many years Keith and I used to go to each others houses and play chess in an evening. We used to play matches using a chess clock anywhere from 5 to 25 minutes. I usually lost these matches as Keith was much better than me at playing speed chess. Occasionally I would get the upper hand in a game and begin to feel confident that I could win, this however was a big mistake. I learned quite early on that Keith was at his most dangerous when you had him cornered and would often turn a game around with aggressive chess play. As time went by we began to refer to this as "Keith Chess".
Keith was also an accomplished builder and helped me some years ago repair some walls in my house, he was a good friend with a very generous nature and I will miss him.
Friend of Keith
Friday 31st January 2020. It is very sad to record that Keith passed away this morning, finally succumbing to the cancer he had been fighting for years. Keith played for Royston Chess Club for 25 years and he also enjoyed county and correspondence chess. He was still playing two games in the latter until very recently. Just a few years ago he played for at least three of the county teams in one season. In July 2017 he won the U120 Trophy for the best county performance of the season although in his heyday he reached a grade of 146. His county experience really started in 2003 with Keith taking over the captaincy of the U120 team from Quasi Latif. He continued in this role until handing over to Steve Dicks in 2008. From there he played regularly in the U150 SCCU and subsequently the U160 in the EACU. Mike Price, his captain in those teams, says he was one of the most reliable players he could call on. From my own experience of playing Keith, I knew not to expect a quiet positional style. He would attack and sacrifice without fear. One of his games will appear here soon. Keith was a friendly, approachable guy and chess in Hertfordshire is poorer without him.