John Gibson (1948–2022)

“There, that’s an insidious little move…”

It is with great sorrow that we report the death of John Gibson, one of the Irish Go Association’s longest-serving and best-loved members. In the course of a long career in Go, John achieved a ranking of one kyu, representing Ireland four times at the World Amateur Go Championship and twice in the Korean Prime Minister’s Cup. He was among the Collegians Chess Club contingent that combined with the Trinity College group to found the Association and remained a core member of the committee for nearly three decades until declining health prompted him to step down. John played a central role in the running of the 2001 European Go Congress in Dublin, still far and away the largest and most prestigious tournament ever held on Irish soil, and served the European Go Federation as Secretary for four years. He was coach to the Greek national team for a time. He was a strong Chess player, and somehow also found time to fit in games of Bridge and Tennis while running a successful interior design business.

Beyond these bare details, John was a man of unfailing generosity of spirit. In the fifteen years that I knew him, I do not recall him ever having a bad word to say about anyone, not even the attested murderers he had faced across the board (he could not say for sure whether it was only two, or if there might have been a third). Although he liked to portray himself as a devious and ruthless (some might say shameless) operator on the Go board, he was endlessly encouraging to newcomers, never turning down an opportunity to teach or share his pleasure in the game. The innocent pleasure he took in perpetrating his latest rip-off disarmed any resentment at his tactics. His openness and kindness earned him friendship wherever he went: from his former colleagues at the EGF to the staff of countless pubs across Dublin, everyone asks after John, remembers him fondly. Even ill-health did not shake his sunny disposition: he dismissed his problems as being merely “a touch of cancer”; his deteriorating eyesight only held the tantalising prospect of a final chance to represent Ireland at blind Chess. When chemotherapy robbed him of his taste for Guinness, he switched to white wine, regularly showing up at Dublin club meetings to work his way through a bottle of Chardonnay while introducing the newer members to pre-AI esoterica like the High Chinese opening.

He will be greatly missed.

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8 responses to “John Gibson (1948–2022)”

  1. Olivier Demé says:

    So sad to learn this news.
    RIP John. You were great support to me and everybody else during my go days.
    The heart and soul of Irish go,you will be greatly missed.

  2. Ian Davis says:

    In my head I have this image of his bright little face in the darkness of the Pembroke bar. The little green lamps, the dense grey beard, the inevitable pint of Guinness and the old stones reflected within the metal rims of those spectacles. He seemed to know everything about the game in Ireland. The love of the high Chinese opening was perhaps something that didn’t entirely fit for me, given his reputation in chess. But everything else seemed entirely natural, even his desire for fame as a rip off merchant. He did great things for the game in Ireland. Rest in peace John.

  3. Dylan Carter says:

    I’m lucky to have met John and had the opportunity to experience his warm generosity. I remember my mother telling me of a kind conversation she had with him in the side-lines of the Irish Open tournament.

  4. Noel Mitchell says:

    It would be difficult to overstate how important John was for Irish Go. For nearly 30 years he was the man that would reliably be at the club most nights, involved in teaching activities, tournaments and the main international communications. His great friendship, enthusiasm and wealth of experience will be greatly missed.

  5. Martin Klemsa says:

    Condolences from the Czech Republic. This is sad news indeed. I’ll always remember you.

  6. […] a heartfelt loss. John Gibson, long time stalwart of the game, has passed away. Eoghan posted an eloquent piece on the IGA site. The Irish Chess Union has a thoughtful article by Paul […]

  7. Carol says:

    It was John who first taught me how to play Go in The Pembroke. I remember him proudly telling me about his daughter who held the title of Irish Female Champion and he always encouraged me to aim high. A kind and wonderful man who only wanted to share his great curiosity and enthusiasm. I will miss him.

  8. […] the many tributes that poured in for John Gibson was one at the Irish Go Association web site, which features a very nice recent […]

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