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by Bill Mitchell


John Hampshire 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 chess.

Bill Mitchell
8th August 2003



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