Remembering Brian Reilly (12-xii-1901 29-xii-1991)

Brian Patrick Reilly (12-xii-1901, 29-xii-1991)
Brian Patrick Reilly (12-xii-1901, 29-xii-1991)
Signature of Brian Reilly from an after dinner post card from Hastings 1945-46
Signature of Brian Reilly from an after dinner post card from Hastings 1945-46

We remember Brian Patrick Reilly who passed away on December 29th, 1991.

Brian Reilly probably sometime in the 1920s.
Brian Reilly probably sometime in the 1920s.

From The Encyclopaedia of Chess (Batsford, 1977), Harry Golombek OBE (written by Wolfgang Heidenfeld) :”Irish master born at Menton, of Irish descent, who has represented Ireland in nine Olympic team tournaments between 1935 and 1968; three times on top board.

Brian observes a game during one of the early 1930s tournaments in Nice
Brian observes a game during one of the early 1930s tournaments in Nice

He was also Irish representative at seven FIDE congresses. Reilly played in a number of small international tournaments, wining first prize at Nice 1931 and sharing fourth prize with Klein and EG Sergeant behind Reshevsky, Capablanca and Sir G. Thomas at Margate 1935.

Brian Reilly playing Dr. Josep Vallve probably at Barcelona Chess Club in June 1935. Brian won in 61 moves.
Brian Reilly playing Dr. Josep Vallve probably at Barcelona Chess Club in June 1935. Brian won in 61 moves.

Winner of Irish championship in 1959 and 1960. General Editor of British Chess Magazine since 1949.”

Brian Reilly and friends
Brian Reilly and friends

His obituary in British Chess Magazine was written by Bernard Cafferty and appeared in Volume CXII (112, 1992), Number 2 (February), page 70:

Brian with journalist colleagues.
Brian with journalist colleagues.

“With great regret we have to report that Brian Patrick Reilly has, to use the older term, ‘joined the great majority’.

Brian analysing with Irish team mate, Wolfgang Heidenfeld
Brian analysing with Irish team mate, Wolfgang Heidenfeld

B. P. Reilly (Menton, 12 xii 1901-Hastings, 29 xii l99l) was born into an expatriate family on the French Riviera, and so was bilingual. He learned his chess in France where he had many friends and acquaintances. He knew Alekhine in the 1920s and 1930s and was a witness at Alekhine’s wedding.

Many years later he was to do extensive research on Alekhine’s life, and was the first to establish (though he did not publish the fact) that the Russian did not complete his doctorate studies at the Sorbonne, so that “Dr” Alekhine must be considered a purely honorary title.

Brian won the Nice tournament of 1931, ahead of Noteboom, Mieses, . . . Sir George Thomas . . . Znosko-Borovsky. . . and played for Ireland at the 1935 Olympiad beating Fine.

Crosstable for Nice 1931 from Megabase 2020
Crosstable for Nice 1931 from Megabase 2020

These results, taken with his fourth place at Margate 1935, behind Reshevsky, Capablanca and Sir George Thomas, made it clear that he was of IM strength.

Nice Masters, 1931. Standing : Daniel Noteboom, Abraham Baratz, George Renaud (Organiser),  Telling (Tournament Director), Marcel Duchamp, Brian Reilly (winner), Seated : Eugene Znokso-Borovsky,, Arpad Vajda, Sir George Thomas, Jacques Mieses, Stefano Roselli del Turco, Jacob Adolf Seitz. British Chess Magazine, 1931, page 201
Nice Masters, 1931. Standing : Daniel Noteboom, Abraham Baratz, George Renaud (Organiser), Telling (Tournament Director), Marcel Duchamp, Brian Reilly (winner), Seated : Eugene Znokso-Borovsky,, Arpad Vajda, Sir George Thomas, Jacques Mieses, Stefano Roselli del Turco, Jacob Adolf Seitz. British Chess Magazine, 1931, page 201

We are grateful to Tony Gillam for providing the following score which has only recently come to light. See Warsaw Olympiad 1935, The Chess Player, Nottingham, 2020.

During the war Brian was interned in France as a British citizen, coming close to starvation for a time. He described all this in the very detailed account of his life in the September 1980 BCM, on which we have drawn, along with the many reminiscences Brian passed on to the present writer.

Brian analysing with the Irish team at an Olympiad
Brian analysing with the Irish team at an Olympiad

After working for the Sutton Coldfield magazine just after the war (he did not get on well with B. H. Wood, thinking him not very business-like – do we put this too diplomatically?) Brian was a freelance translator in the pharmaceutical industry before taking over BCM in 1949. At the time the magazine was technically bankrupt.

Sir George Thomas And Brian Reilly Sir George Thomas (left), leader of the British chess team, playing Irishman Brian Reilly at the Easter Chess Congress, Margate, April 24th 1935. (Photo by Harry Todd/Fox Photos/Getty Images)
Sir George Thomas And Brian Reilly
Sir George Thomas (left), leader of the British chess team, playing Irishman Brian Reilly at the Easter Chess Congress, Margate, April 24th 1935. (Photo by Harry Todd/Fox Photos/Getty Images)

In 1964 he moved the office from London to St Leonards, showing his business acumen yet again. He ran the bookstall for many years at the Hastings Congress at the Sun Lounge and the Falaise Hall.

Brian Reilly setting up the BCM bookstall at Hastings

After the union troubles of 1970-71 and the Fischer boom he arranged for the magazine to be typeset by his son Freddy at the family home in West Norwood. This led to an expansion in the pagination after some teething troubles.

Brian Reilly playing Cesar Munoz (Ecuador) in round 8 of the Leipzig Olympiad played on 23rd October 1960. The game was drawn in 48 moves.
Brian Reilly playing Cesar Munoz (Ecuador) in round 8 of the Leipzig Olympiad played on 23rd October 1960. The game was drawn in 48 moves.

All this while, Brian was playing for Ireland in Olympiads, and attending to FIDE affairs as a FIDE delegate.

Brian relaxing during a FIDE Congress dinner.
Brian relaxing during a FIDE Congress dinner

After the death of his son Freddy in 1980, the magazine was sold to the BCF and Brian retired as editor in September 1981, remaining as a consultant for nearly a decade.

Brian Reilly, Ray Keene, George Botterill, Anatoly Karpov, Harry Golombek and Viktor Korchnoi
Brian Reilly, Ray Keene, George Botterill, Anatoly Karpov, Harry Golombek and Viktor Korchnoi

His last years were spent in Hastings, where it was his wont to carry on with the long sea-front walks that he had practised since a breakdown in health due to overwork. He had strong views on correct diet and exercise which he could expound to anyone willing to listen. The fact that he could walk up to six miles a day in his late eighties and that his faculties, including his memory, only seemed to be weakening in his last two years, is proof enough of the validity of his theories.

Brian Reilly playing Wolfgang Unzicker on board 1 during the preliminaries of the 1960 Leipzig Olympiad.
Brian Reilly playing Wolfgang Unzicker on board 1 during the preliminaries of the 1960 Leipzig Olympiad.

On his 90th birthday he attended the office and drank a glass of champagne to celebrate the occasion. We have the testimony of Mrs Arnold, who worked with him so long, that he was still talking of visiting the Hastings Congress. This was on Boxing Day, the day after he had been admitted to St Helen’s Hospital with a chest infection. He assured her he would be up and about again, but old friends such as Harry Golombek and Ritson Morry waited for him in vain as Hastings got under way. . .

Brian Reilly at a FIDE Congress (possibly Nice 1974?)
Brian Reilly at a FIDE Congress (possibly Nice 1974?)
Brian Reilly at a FIDE Congress (possibly Nice 1974?)
Brian Reilly at a FIDE Congress (possibly Nice 1974?)

BCM readers, too, must be counted amongst his old friends who will miss him. They should be aware that, but for Brian, and his decades of hard work. there would now be no BCM.”

Brian Reilly in the BCM office. Photographed most likely by Freddy Reilly.
Brian Reilly in the BCM office. Photographed most likely by Freddy Reilly.

From British Chess Magazine, Volume CI (101), Number 8 (August), pp 352 – 369 a conversation between B.P. Reilly and W.H. Cozens :

Brian Reilly conversation with William Harold Cozens, part 1
Brian Reilly conversation with William Harold Cozens, part 1
Brian Reilly conversation with William Harold Cozens, part 2
Brian Reilly conversation with William Harold Cozens, part 2
Brian Reilly conversation with William Harold Cozens, part 3
Brian Reilly conversation with William Harold Cozens, part 3
Brian Reilly conversation with William Harold Cozens, part 4
Brian Reilly conversation with William Harold Cozens, part 4
Brian Reilly conversation with William Harold Cozens, part 5
Brian Reilly conversation with William Harold Cozens, part 5
Brian Reilly conversation with William Harold Cozens, part 6
Brian Reilly conversation with William Harold Cozens, part 6
Brian Reilly conversation with William Harold Cozens, part 7
Brian Reilly conversation with William Harold Cozens, part 7

He won the BCF President’s Award in 1983 along with BH Wood

Here is his Wikipedia entry

Brian Reilly conversation with William Harold Cozens, part 8
Brian Reilly conversation with William Harold Cozens, part 8
Brian Reilly conversation with William Harold Cozens, part 9
Brian Reilly conversation with William Harold Cozens, part 9
Brian Reilly conversation with William Harold Cozens, part 10
Brian Reilly conversation with William Harold Cozens, part 10
Brian Reilly conversation with William Harold Cozens, part 11
Brian Reilly conversation with William Harold Cozens, part 11
Brian Reilly conversation with William Harold Cozens, part 12
Brian Reilly conversation with William Harold Cozens, part 12
Brian Reilly conversation with William Harold Cozens, part 13
Brian Reilly conversation with William Harold Cozens, part 13
Brian Reilly conversation with William Harold Cozens, part 14
Brian Reilly conversation with William Harold Cozens, part 14
Brian Reilly conversation with William Harold Cozens, part 15
Brian Reilly conversation with William Harold Cozens, part 15
Brian Reilly conversation with William Harold Cozens, part 16
Brian Reilly conversation with William Harold Cozens, part 16
Brian Reilly conversation with William Harold Cozens, part 17
Brian Reilly conversation with William Harold Cozens, part 16
Brian Reilly conversation with William Harold Cozens, part 18
Brian Reilly conversation with William Harold Cozens, part 1