<Very sad and unexpected news that Peter Parr has passed away. He must have been only 67 years old or so and was an institution in Australian Chess for over 40 years.
Guy (Guy West) has written very eloquently about Peter but I’d like to add a few comments of my own. He was great company, always ready to tell you the latest chess gossip, and like most chess players whenever I was in Sydney I dropped in to his shop for a chat and to rummage through his chaotic collection of books and magazines. Peter and I shared many memories of Australian Chess in the 1970s and 1980s when he was the Olympiad Team Captain and I was our top player and whilst his views were often controversial I can only remember one occasion where we had a significant difference of opinion.
After the 1976 Olympiad in Haifa Peter and I went to England so Peter could visit his parents for a few days and I met his family. His brother David was a strong, if erratic player, who once complained that he was losing games because his opponents were so weak that it was distracting him. His father (Frank Parr) holds several chess records, such as having played in the most British Championships, and was very set in his ways. To the Parr family doing the same thing for 40 years was nothing unusual.
As a player Peter was pretty good without ever making it to the top in Australian Chess. At one Olympiad I can remember him reminding the team members that he had in fact beaten the Olympiad team 2.5-1.5 at the Doeberl Cup that year.
As an arbiter he was excellent and was duly recognised by FIDE with a place on their Rules Commission. He was Chief Arbiter of the Doeberl Cup for many years in the days before computers when arbiters used pairing cards and had to be both quick and accurate. As has been noted by others he was not officious but used his common sense - for instance in one Australian Championship where I was foolishly playing on with KvK against Max Fuller he came up to the board and politely suggested that it may be a good idea if we agreed to a draw.
As a journalist he was excellent as running of his column in the Sydney Morning Herald for 41 years will attest, and was always up with the latest news. After Bernie Johnson stopped producing “Chess in Australia” (the national chess magazine) Peter stepped into the breach with his upgraded “Australian Chess Magazine” which ran for many years also.
As a administrator he was forthright and efficient and a genuine “ideas person” who always had some new plan on the go to improve chess. He was made a life member of both the ACF and the NSWCA and deservingly awarded the OAM in 1997.
As a businessman he was effective even if his methods were old-fashioned and his paperwork was all hand-written. Perhaps he took after Cecil Purdy in that regard as Cecil’s Chess Shop was just as messy as Peter’s.
He was very good at self-promotion and his memory of facts and events could rarely be faulted. Over the years many famous chess identities passed through his shop, from former world champions to Presidents of FIDE. Peter knew them all and made them welcome to Australia.
It would be fair to say that over the last 40 years Peter, like no-one else, has lived at the centre of Australian Chess on a daily basis. His knowledge and memories of chess over that time were a great resource which tragically is now lost to us and passes into history.
Perhaps the ACF may consider some suitable way of recognising Peter’s contribution to Australian Chess, such as naming the next Australian Championships or Australian Open in his honour, as was done with Steiner in 1976. We can only hope.
Australian Chess has lost one of it’s truly great characters and promoters and we are all the poorer for his passing.
Peter Parr RIP.