TRIBUTES have been paid to Stourbridge international chess player Geoff Harris at a special memorial service.

Described as a “genuine gentleman of the chess board”, Geoff passed away peacefully at Russells Hall Hospital on May 27, 2016, at the age of 86.

Devoted wife Pat and several family members and friends paid tribute to Geoff during the memorial service held recently at St Peter’s Church, in Pedmore, which was led by the Rev Sarah Northall.

Geoff, a former pupil of King Edward VI School, was mentored early in his chess career by Tom Chattaway, a member of the school’s teaching staff.

He initially joined Stourbridge Chess Club while at school, but after completing his national service he joined Lye Chess Club where he played board one and was part of the Lye team that won the Worcestershire County Team championships.

When the Lye club folded, Geoff re-joined Stourbridge, becoming the regular top board at the club, helping them to win several county titles and two Birmingham Leagues.

He played regularly on top board for Worcestershire and even finished sixth in the British Open Championship in 1954, which gained his selection for a number of international matches including several on the continent.

Geoff was Worcestershire county captain for several years, as well as holding several offices at Stourbridge, being named the Worcestershire county chess champion for 1961-62 and 1962-63.

Outside of chess, his main interests included football, cricket and horse racing.

Eric Horwill, president of Stourbridge Chess Club, said: “In chess, Geoff was a very friendly opponent with a good sense of humour.

“He was always prepared to play anyone on club nights irrespective of their abilities. He often offered a draw in club events and was always willing to analyse his games and was generous in highlighting his opponents’ better moves.

“Geoff Harris was a genuine gentleman of the chess board.”