GEOFFREY GORDON ROLLINGS
Geoff Rollings passed away on 26th August 2012 aged 84 years, leaving a widow, three children and seven grandchildren.
Geoff had not been involved with chess for more than 40 years but was very active in the 1950s and 1960s. He told me once that he gave up chess for the more sociable game of bridge.
A member of Neath Chess Club, he invariably played on Board 1 and with six appearances in the Welsh Championships between 1956 and 1966 he made a name for himself by finishing third in 1961 and again in 1962. He said that his main tactic was to keep his games going for as long as possible. This meant a series of adjournments and the organisers did not know who to pair him with. At the end of the tournament he would then rush through with a string of late results! In West Wales he won the County title in 1956. His games were rarely studied by him, mainly because he couldn’t read his over-the-board scrawl after the match! He reckoned that he was the worst scorer in Wales.
He worked hard to try and improve standards of chess in Wales , serving the Welsh Chess Union as Secretary 1957-1960; and in West Wales he had spells as Match Captain, Chairman and President and remained a Vice-President of the League until his death. His philosophy was one which many could learn from today; I can remember him commenting from the Chair at one heated meeting, something to the effect, ‘Right, let’s forget about the rules for a minute and let us do what is best for chess and for the people involved.’
He was a quiet man and a real gentleman, his cool calculating play probably stemming from his profession as an accountant, running his own business in the town. When I first started playing at the Neath Club he took me under his wing and I recall being taken by him in his Daimler to a County match in Cardiff and being treated to a hotel lunch before play started.
His father, Ernest Rollings, was a famous national personality, being referred to as ‘The Man Who Won the War’. In World War 1 he led a raid behind enemy lines which captured German documents that enabled the Allied tactics to foreshorten the war, savings immeasurable loos of life. Many years later there was a newspaper campaign to find ‘The Man Who Won the War’ and a substantial bounty was offered. Mr. Rollings did not put his own name forward but was named by a fellow officer. Not only did he receive the reward but was also made a Freeman of the Borough of Neath. He finished his own career as Acting Chief Constable of Neath.
Martyn J. Griffiths