Brian Tomson of the English Department died in Royal Newcastle Hospital on June 20 after a long illness. He was 44. He left no relatives in Australia, but the large attendance at his funeral showed how widely he was valued.
After graduating MA in English and French at Trinity College, Dublin, Brian Tomson took up post-graduate research on Malory at Brasenose College, Oxford and gained his BPhil. He came to the University of Newcastle in March, 1968, as a lecturer in English and continued to work towards an Oxford DPhil in medieval literature.
In his earlier years in Newcastle, he was able to carry out all his teaching in the fields of Old and Middle English. As the heavy staff-losses of recent years reduced the Department's range of courses, he turned his attention to the teaching of more recent literature. But, the older work remained his real love and students who shared that interest with him saw the best of his high abilities.
He was one of the finest chess players in the Hunter Region, playing with considerable success in the NSW and Australian championship tournaments. He did particularly well in 1984, the last year he was able to compete. He also acted as chess correspondent for the (then) Newcastle Morning Herald and was a regular contributor to chess journals.
Brian was a quiet but strong-minded man who warmed to a congenial conversation and had a shy but searching wit. His friendship was not lightly granted but his company will be greatly missed in the Department of English and beyond.
The 1971 Country Chess Championship of N.S.W. has been won by a member of the Newcastle Chess Club (a W.E.A. club), Brian Tomson.
A former player for the club and previous winner of the NSW Country title, Ken Hill, shared second place. Hill left Newcastle to move to Wollongong recently.
Brian Tomson is a lecturer in English at the University of Newcastle. Before coming to Australia he had gained fourth place in the Irish National Title, played for Oxford University and represented Eireland in an international universities tournament played in Europe against top class competition including the crack Russian. He modestly stresses the fact that the Irish team finished in last place on this occasion.
The acquisition of a player of Tomson's calibre should enable the W.E.A. club to overcome the loss of Hill and retain its high standing in NSW country chess.
N.S.W. Country Chess Champion, Brian Tomson
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