Timothy Whitworth obituary

Other lives: Rigorous teacher and expert chess coach

My uncle, Timothy Whitworth, who has died aged 86, was a rigorous and challenging teacher of economics and political studies and also an expert on chess endgame studies.

The son of Phoebe (nee May) and George Whitworth, he was born in Radwinter, Essex, where his father was the vicar. Timothy attended Marlborough college and then studied history at Trinity College, Cambridge, graduating in 1955.

After training as a teacher at Christ Church, Oxford, he took up a post at King’s College Taunton, an independent school, where he remained for 30 years, versatile enough to teach a range of subjects, some of which he had to learn from scratch. He started with history and English and later pioneered economics and political studies at A-level. Former students still remember his grounding in Adam Smith, Marshall and Keynes, where every view had to be justified and explained, and which lasted them well into the second year of an economics degree.

Timothy coached school chess teams to winning performances, and also studied chess endgames, later developing this into a retirement career in Cambridge. In an endgame study, the chess pieces are deliberately put into positions where the play shows something instructive, exciting or elegant. What is important is not who wins, but how they win.

Timothy composed endgame studies of his own, but it was as an editor and compiler that he was outstanding. He produced the standard collections of several eminent study composers, including Kubbel, Mattison and the Platov brothers, and was for seven years endgame study columnist of the British Chess magazine. He worked with Mike Bent to compile The Best of Bent (1993), a selection of endgame studies, and collaborated with John Beasley to write two editions (1996 and 2017) of the book Endgame Magic.

Timothy’s scholarly approach and meticulous attention to detail meant that, when writing his books on chess, he did not rely on secondary sources, but would travel to check the original in, say, the Royal Library of the Netherlands in the Hague.

Besides chess, Timothy enjoyed visiting places of cultural and scenic interest and appreciated art and classical music, particularly opera.

He is survived by his sister, Margaret, three nieces and two nephews.

Mary Osmaston

The GuardianTramp

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