BH Wood

Baruch Harold Wood OBE MSc (1909-1989), founder editor of CHESS from 1935, and Daily Telegraph correspondent, was a leading member of Sutton Coldfield Chess Club from its inception. His Easy Guide to Chess, first published in 1942, is still in print. GM Nigel Davies calls it “one of the best beginners books on the market.” Wood was also a great organiser, chess entrepreneur, and thorn in the side of the British Chess Federation. He was reputed to be “the most travelled simultaneous display practitioner in this country.” Bernard Cafferty called him “one of the most influential figures in British chess of the 20th century.” In 1983 he received the BCF President’s Award for Services to Chess, and in the New Year’s Honours List of 1984 was awarded the OBE also “For services to Chess.”

He was born on 13th July 1909 in Sheffield. Apart from the Telegraph, he also wrote for the Illustrated London News, The Yorkshire Post, and was the Birmingham Post chess columnist from 1948 until February 1967 (when Peter Gibbs took over). He was a FIDE judge, and was awarded the rare title of FIDE Life Member in 1953. He won several semi-international events: Baarn 1947, Paignton 1954, Whitby 1963, Thorshavn 1967, and Jersey 1975. He won the British Correspondence Chess Championship in 1945. In the 1948 British Championship held in London he came 2nd (after scoring 6½ from the first 7 rounds). He still holds the record for winning the Warwickshire Championship – eight times altogether: 1938, 1939, 1941, 1947, 1948, 1949, 1950, and 1957. And held the record (until 2006) for the most Birmingham & District Chess League Individual titles – nine, all won in Division 1: 1937, 1939, 1954, 1956, 1958, 1960, 1966, 1967, and 1983. He was the Records Secretary for the League from 1951-61. 

His home was in Rectory Road, Sutton Coldfield. He died on 4th April 1989 aged 79. FIDE President, Florencio Campomanes, attended the funeral. There is an obituary in the May-1989 issue of Chess Monthly. Bernard Cafferty wrote a four-page tribute “Remembering Barry Wood (1909-1989)” in the June 2004 issue of the British Chess Magazine. His son Chris Wood (helped by brother Frank) wrote the eleven-page “B.H. Wood and his chess playing family” in the August 2009 issue of Chess Monthly. The Baruch H Wood Memorial Trophy is awarded under the auspices of the Birmingham League each season for best game submitted. When the Sutton Coldfield Division 1 side won the Terrill Trophy in 1971, the team included three Woods: Baruch and his sons Chris and Frank. Philip Wood, Baruch’s youngest son currently plays for Kenilworth Chess Club.

Addendum: The genealogist Peter Loach has uncovered that BH Wood appeared in the list of registered births as “Harold Baruch Wood” and again, that way round, in the 1911 Census entry (which was signed by his father).

MJS 10th May 2016.

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