liked playing chess, not only for the pleasure of playing the
game but also for the delight he got in defeating his opponents
and in my case this meant perpetually.
John had earlier served with the RAAF at the same time as another
officer of the same name and rank and in order to avoid confusion
he always introduced himself as Fat John Hampshire as against
the better known Long John Hampshire.
He also advocated that crews in the field be provided with sporting
equipment such as tennis raquets, golf clubs, cricket gear and
parlour games including ludo scrabble, backgammon and most importantly
chess; the suggestion was agreed to by management, but the adoption
of the scheme was slow in emerging.
We were operating out of Daly Waters a township not noted for
its recreational diversions, so at the end of the working day
it was inevitable that the chessmen would be set up and John would
proceed to wipe me off the board. He also had the most disconcerting
practice that if perchance he made a move he later thought better
of he would immediately ask for permission to play the move again.
How could one refuse such an innocent request.
The game was underway and on this occasion I was able to block
most of his advances and capture more of his men than he had of
mine. Things were looking up. I felt comfortable, John looked
worried. Could it be that I was about to break the run of losses
and achieve my first victory over the maestro?
Yes indeed I had him. I jumped for joy, but the triumphant cry
of Checkmate was stifled in my throat as my knee contacted the
board and sent the chessmen awry. John's laughter echoed in the
rafters for quite some time after. Yes he really enjoyed playing
8th August 2003