Obituary – Bernard Palmer

Posté par northlecale le 9 août 2015

Whilst on holiday with my family I learnt of the sad death of Bernard Palmer. To most people in Ireland he was probably better known as a Chess player. These days you can look through his game history with websites like 365chess.com or whatever, to get a feel of the length and breadth of his career, but that gives you little indication of what type of man he really was. At the Chess board, or even just debating about Chess Politics, he could exhibit a fell temper sometimes backed up by even worse threats. One can suppose that this relatively bad behaviour originated out of the very character of the game itself, for when playing Go, nothing of the sort could be seen. Most people remarked that he was a completely different and affable character.  I’m sure that those who have played Go in Ireland prior to 2008 will remember his larger than life figure, many might also remember Bernard for his role as a guide around the bars of Dublin. My first meeting with Bernard was inside the half light of the Pembroke Inn, when I noticed a large man drinking what was probably Carlsberg lager at the bar.  Over the years to come I remember seeing him playing Go there, and not seeing him playing Go there, several more times in the same circumstances. He seemed to have something of a natural gift for the game, for without displaying most of the skills normally associated with the calculating chess player, his positional instinct was powerful. Bernard was the challenger in the 1992 / 3 final against Noel Mitchell – you can see one of his games here. I believe it illustrates the fact that Bernard simply wasn’t up to the same level as Noel in the technical details associated with close quarter fighting. It also illustrates the perhaps forgotten fact that Bernard was one of the early powerhouses of Irish Go. He never progressed significantly beyond his level of 3-kyu he attained in 1992, which at the time made him one of the strongest players in the country, and the strongest player at Collegians. He was persistent though, playing in many further Top 8 competitions, and he ended up travelling to Japan twice to represent Ireland – once for the International Amateur Pair Go Championship, and once for the World Amateur Go Championship. The latter he was interviewed for by Peter Mioch. He was actually just 57 years old when he died, and with his passing we lose something of the history of Collegians Chess and Go Club.

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