Mike Bolan

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David Shepherd
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Mike Bolan

Post by David Shepherd » Sat May 15, 2021 4:07 pm

I am sorry to have to report the death of Mike Bolan on Thursday 13th May .

Mike was a deserved winner of the 2004 ECF presidents award for services to chess and the following is the citation from that time

"Mike Bolan
An early member of Ashtead Chess Club and has been first team captain for at least 20 years until fairly recently
when he stepped down to run the second team. He attends the club every Tuesday and is always on hand to help
with new members, advise on team matters and generally keep in touch with what is going on in the chess world. He
has been coaching at the junior section of the club at least since 1978 and is unstinting in the effort he puts in to
helping juniors, encouraging them to play and to play better.
He is a founder member of Wey Valley Chess, Surrey’s primary school chess organisation. He started with the group
very close to 1976 when it was set up and probably has not missed a tournament since. This means he must have
attended at least 150 Wey Valley events to support players from Danes Hill (the school where he was once
Headmaster) and many other children who show an interest in chess. He is a member of the council of EPSCA and
has been Vice President and President. He also helps Ian Cowan every year with the selection of the England U11
team and in organising the national and international matches.
Mike very rarely says “no” to a plea for help and with anything connected with chess. This means that he is busy
almost every weekend throughout the year supporting one event or another."

Mike was active in training and encouraging juniors over many years and seemed to be an ever present fixture at junior events all over the country. He was a Life Vice President of the SCCA and was a good friend that I have known for many years and I am sure many tributes will follow RIP MIke.

David Sedgwick
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Re: Mike Bolan

Post by David Sedgwick » Sat May 15, 2021 4:48 pm

Sad news indeed. RIP, Mike.

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John Saunders
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Re: Mike Bolan

Post by John Saunders » Sat May 15, 2021 5:04 pm

That's very sad news. A quick check of statutory records indicates that Mike was 81, having been born in Whitchurch, Shropshire in 1939. Mike was the smiling face of Ashtead Chess Club when I, as match captain of (now defunct) Mitcham CC, used to cross swords with them in Surrey Trophy matches in the 1980s and 1990s. As anyone who's ever been a match captain knows, disputes can and do arise between people appointed to this thankless role but I cannot ever remember anything of the sort occurring between me and Mike, who was as affable as he was efficient. I think he was rather better at managing his side and running his club than I ever was (as evidenced by the fact that his club is still around and mine isn't). Lovely bloke - RIP.
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Re: Mike Bolan

Post by Angus French » Sat May 15, 2021 5:32 pm

Sorry to hear that Mike has passed away. He was always very friendly and made a point of saying hello.

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Re: Mike Bolan

Post by John Upham » Sat May 15, 2021 6:19 pm

I met (and photographed) Mike on many occasions such as the Berks and Bucks Congress. He was keen supporter of the UK Chess Challenge and was one of MJBs merry band of many helpers.

We chatted many times and he was always very jolly and good humoured.

I will miss him. :(

I have a gallery of images of Mike at https://johnupham.smugmug.com/search#q=Bolan

Here is a picture from Berks and Bucks 2015 showing his usual cheerful self :


mike_bolan.jpg
Mike Bolan (1939 - 2021)
mike_bolan.jpg (90.74 KiB) Viewed 1317 times
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LawrenceCooper
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Re: Mike Bolan

Post by LawrenceCooper » Sat May 15, 2021 7:49 pm

A true gent and was very supportive of me, firstly as a junior and continuing after that.

James Pratt
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Re: Mike Bolan

Post by James Pratt » Sat May 15, 2021 11:43 pm

Mike was a keen music lover, we went to a Gilbert & Sullivan concert at the Anvil in Basingstoke, often bounced musical opinions off each other. He started life as a librarian, went into teaching with a degree in French, thereafter was a stickler for linguistic accuracy. Like Argos the Hundred Eyed you'd see him at the bookstall seemingly drinking in all he saw, his leg pulled by me with annoying regularity. I shared his love of fish and chips and he'd celebrate with pints of Ruddles beer. He retired from teaching but stayed close to his school turning up at endless prize givings with loyalty and his bright smile, enthusiasm newer than any junior whom he mentored! Awarded the Presidents Award for Chess in 2004, he'd travel to the British or Paignton, shaking hands formally and always with great warmth, his trademark his Centre-Counters and Colles.

Mike suffered a stroke in 1985, lost his powers of speech. Regrettably he visited hospital at least twice more but coped with a modest grin. I never heard him complain. He retired to Oxshott.

I do hope Surrey chess can turn out a cup or two in his memory. So, so sad to see him gone. I think he leaves a sister and an untouched inheritance, a characteristic mark - dare I say it? - of principle.

James Pratt

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Re: Mike Bolan

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Sun May 16, 2021 12:18 am

Really sad news. The others have said it already, but he was the nicest person you could hope to meet, always greeted you with a smile, and was so enthusiastic. Most teachers want to escape from children at the end of the day, but he was eagerly coaching them and encouraging them out of hours as well. He pretended to be cross whenever one of our young players won against him, but there was always a twinkle in his eye.

It was a pleasure to know him, he did so much for chess, always with a smile on his face, and with none of the negativity which is so frequent these days. I really don't think he realised how much he was admired.

SCCA really must honour his memory in some way.

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Christopher Kreuzer
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Re: Mike Bolan

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Sun May 16, 2021 1:52 am

That is very sad news. I only knew Mike in his later years, and tangentially through Richmond and Twickenham Chess Club (rather than Ashtead), but his good nature always shone through as a stalwart of the chess scene (and with more backstory than I ever knew!).

RIP Mike.

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Re: Mike Bolan

Post by Andrew Martin » Sun May 16, 2021 8:40 am

Mike will be greatly missed. He was a staunch supporter of chess and of junior chess in particular. He was always positive, dispensing sound advice as he saw fit. He had true character and was a good man.

RIP Mike.

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Re: Mike Bolan

Post by Daniel Young » Sun May 16, 2021 11:02 am

Very sad news. As a junior in Surrey I had the pleasure of meeting Mike at many events, and he was unfailingly enthusiastic, always asking after everyone's progress with genuine delight. RIP Mike, you gave us all so much.

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Re: Mike Bolan

Post by Mike Gunn » Sun May 16, 2021 11:12 am

I have many fond memories of Mike including being greeted by him at British Championships where he would turn up to see his friends even when he wasn't playing. Apart from playing for his club and his support for junior chess he was a stalwart of the county teams I captained. I agree with the comments above that SurreyCCA should honour his memory in some way.

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Re: Mike Bolan

Post by John Upham » Sun May 16, 2021 2:28 pm

Pat Armstrong contacted BCN and asked for this to be posted both here and in other places :

“I am very sorry to have to report the death of Mike Bolan. He died suddenly on 14th May in hospital but was, in fact, just about to return to his care home where he has been living since towards the end of 2019.

We in Wey Valley Chess owe a very great deal to Mike. He was very supportive in the early days of the setting up of Wey Valley Junior Chess, way back in 1976 when Keith Powell started the ball rolling following guidelines from EPSCA. Keith handed admin over to me in 1985 when Mike Basman also became involved. Both Mikes coached our juniors to great successes over the years. Mike Bolan was always interested in promoting junior chess endeavours in all areas. He offered us Danes Hill School for years so we could hold junior coaching sessions for our Under 11, Under 9 and Girls U11 EPSCA teams. When Danes Hill was no longer available for us, he would still come along to sessions, wherever we held them.

He and Richard Davey started Ashtead Junior Chess Club in about 1970 (I think) and I became involved in 1976 when my elder son joined and I came along to watch.
Richard and Mike Bolan ran the Juniors at Ashtead CC together until Richard’s death when I stepped in to help Mike. Every week without fail, he would arrive with an interesting game or chess fact to reveal to the children; and he had something that all teachers yearn for and many fail to find, “presence”. The children would hang on his every word, even those that they didn’t quite understand at the time. It is almost certainly a good thing that they didn’t believe his threats to “cut off their hands” if they moved the pieces too quickly. He was always encouraging to both adult players and juniors, and was admired wherever he went.

He was a great supporter of EPSCA over the years, being Vice Chairman (1994) and Chairman (1996) in his turn, and helped Ian Cowen (Lincs.) and later Victor Cross, England Team Managers, running the England U11 teams in international competitions up until quite recently.
Mike never said no to a chess related request and I am sure others will be praising his support for club chess teams and chess club organisers all over Surrey.

I am very sad that he has left us, but his last year cannot have been anything but a trial for him. He was very well cared for and had all the physical comforts that could be provided, but he was only just regaining the ability to walk a little and would tell me that he didn’t think he would be coming back to teaching at Ashtead JCC.

He will be greatly missed by all who knew him, he was a true gentleman.

Pat Armstrong, May 16th, 2021. “

Best wishes,
Pat
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Richard Bates
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Re: Mike Bolan

Post by Richard Bates » Sun May 16, 2021 5:11 pm

That's sad news. I remember having a brief chat with him a couple of years ago where i recalled first meeting him in a primary school match between Danes Hill and Sheen Mount in the late eighties. Weirdly it stuck in the memory because of some sage advice i recalled he'd given at the start of the game that all clocks should be set with an extra 30 seconds on the official time control "to avoid disputes in the event of an early flag fall" (an occasional problem of course familiar to anybody who ever played with analogue clocks)

Needless to say when i recounted this he was mystified as to why he would have ever come up with such a barmy idea...

(it is of course possible that as a very young junior i'd misinterpreted somehow :))

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Re: Mike Bolan

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Sun May 16, 2021 5:49 pm

I'm reminded too that when Surrey Chess had a "Pub Quiz" between clubs a few years ago, Mike was part of the Ashtead team. The question was read out, "What is Jordan's real name?" Mike apparently immediately said "Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan", (which is correct), and he was somewhat bewildered when his team-mates expressed the view that the answer "Katie Price" was probably expected...

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