Stan Owen , 1924 – 2020
Stan arrived at Pontypool Chess Club in September 1963, at a time when the club were considering disbanding due to dwindling membership. He had already represented Yorkshire in 30 board matches and immediately impressed with his blitz like playing style. He agreed to join the team, which encouraged the club to continue and indeed go from strength to strength. He subsequently held positions of Chairman, Auditor and President of the club, and represented the club in local leagues, as well as representing Monmouthshire. Stan also represented Pontypool Chess Club as delegate to the Monmouthshire County Chess Association. Stan was also the current President of the Gwent Chess Association.
Hailing originally from Brighouse, Yorkshire, Stan joined the RAF as a Ground Crew Technician in 1942 at the age of eighteen. His ambition to become a pilot was thwarted when he discovered that he was colourblind. However, he was rightly proud of his time in service. Stan pursued a career with the Co-Op and in 1963 he moved to Garndiffaith , becoming the General Manager for the local Co-Op organisation, which in those days consisted of stores in Varteg, Victoria Village and Garndiffaith, as well as numerous other enterprises in the surrounding area.
After retiring, he gained two degrees with the Open University, in Geology and Astronomy.
Stan prided himself on his fitness. In his younger days he would think nothing of cycling from Yorkshire to the Lake District, and was still an enthusiastic walker even into his nineties.
Stan was married to Jean, who passed away in 2010, one year short of their diamond anniversary. They had 2 sons, Andrew and Robert. Himself a chess player, Andrew regularly had heated discussions with his father about the relevant merits of his favourite King’s Gambit versus Stan’s much loved Ruy Lopez!
Although retired from competitive chess, having represented Pontypool for around 30 years with distinction (achieving ELO grades of 2000+), Stan continued to attend Pontypool Chess Cub until as recently as 2017 playing friendly games, and his blistering speed of thought and movement of the pieces never slowed down one jot! Another of Stan’s hallmarks was his generosity and kindness towards other players. It is typical of Stan that, in the minutes of the 1964 AGM, it is recorded that Stan suggested that instruction should be organised for the younger players, which he subsequently undertook. Several current players have told of how they were inspired to take up chess seriously by Stan when they were youngsters at that time. Apparently, Stan would never let them win, but he would make sure they reached an ending, and would even offer a draw when he could no doubt have won! Former club member and teacher Phil Smith tells of how Stan once controlled a lightning tournament for around 40 young players at Croesyceiliog School, displaying his usual energy and enthusiasm.
Stan suffered from a chronic heart condition and passed away on August 26th 2020, aged 96.
A true gentleman, he is sadly missed by all in the Chess world who knew him.