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A. S. Hollis R.I.P.


Adrian Swayne Hollis (b. 02.08.1940 – d. Feb. 2013.)

Adrian Hollis, former West of England Champion, WECU Vice President and Grandmaster of Postal Chess, died recently at his home in Wells, Somerset after a long illness.

Hollis was the only child of Sir Roger Hollis and Evelyn Esme (née Swayne) whose families came from the North Somerset towns of Wells and Burnham-on-Sea respectively. At the time of Adrian’s greatest over-the-board activity, his father was Director-General of MI5 (1956 – 1965) a period that saw a string of controversial and high profile spy cases, including the Guy Burgess, Kim Philby, Anthony Blunt, George Blake and John Vassall affairs and the Profumo scandal. 

Adrian went to Eton and studied Classics at Christ Church, Oxford. He played in four Varsity matches from 1959 – ’62, the first three of which were drawn. He was an exact contemporary of future WECU President, Philip Meade, of Queen’s College, Cambridge, and the two played against each other on Board 1 in the 1961 match.  Adrian had learned the game at the age of 13 from a cousin and within 7 years had become the then youngest West of England Champion in 1961. He was also British Universities Champion and played in six Anglo-Dutch matches scoring 7½ / 12. Although the nature of his boarding education meant that he could take little part in Somerset’s domestic tournaments, he played in their correspondence teams from an early age. 

His first teaching post was at St. Andrews University before moving to Keble College, Oxford, where he lectured in Classics from 1967 until his retirement in 2008. He wrote books on the Roman poet Ovid and became a Fellow of his College. However, the twin calls of academic and family life (he had married Margaret and had daughters) soon led him to abandon any serious ambitions in over-the-board play and to concentrate instead on postal play from 1965. Ironically, his retirement from this stage of his chess career coincided with the award of International Master. 

However, he was destined for even greater recognition when he became England’s 6th Grandmaster in 1976, for postal play, when he got his final GM norm in the Potter Memorial Tournament. 

After retirement he returned to his Somerset roots in Wells.

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